Author Topic: One of the other Jesuses  (Read 988 times)

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Offline Graybeard

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One of the other Jesuses
« on: January 28, 2014, 07:51:33 AM »
Jesus ben AnaniasWiki
Quote
Jesus ben Ananias ("the son of Ananias") was a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the First Jewish-Roman War began in 66 AD, went around Jerusalem prophesying the city's destruction. The Jewish leaders of Jerusalem turned him over to the Romans, who tortured him.

[…] And when Albinus (Lucceius AlbinusWiki) [for he was then our procurator] asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him.

Anyone recognise a New Testament story?
M'r:15:1: And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.
M'r:15:2: And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.
M'r:15:3: And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.
M'r:15:4: And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.
M'r:15:5: But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.

M't:27:11: And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
M't:27:12: And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
M't:27:13: Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
M't:27:14: And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

Lu:23:3: And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.
Lu:23:4: Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.

Joh:18:37: Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Joh:18:38: Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

Is this just a coincidence, a regular occurrence? The Jewish elders all brought madmen to Pilate if the lunatics had offended God? After all, “Jesus” was a relatively common name in 1st century Judea, or have the stories of the New Testament been constructed around several local heros/characters/events and simply been attributed to a mythical but longed-for "Messiah"?

And then there is: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2013/06/the-mocking-of-carabbas/

Quote
There was a certain madman named Carabbas … […] the sport of idle children and wanton youths; […] setting him up there on high that he might be seen by everybody, flattened out a leaf of papyrus and put it on his head instead of a diadem, and … when, […], he … had been dressed and adorned like a king, … Then from the multitude of those who were standing around there arose a wonderful shout of men calling out “Maris”; and this is the name by which it is said that they call the kings among the Syrians; …


« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 08:11:30 AM by Graybeard »
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline junebug72

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2014, 08:09:16 AM »
What is the evidence this Jesus ever existed? Curious...JB
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
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Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/t/thomas_paine.html#XXwlhVIMq06zWg2d.99

Offline junebug72

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2014, 08:12:07 AM »
I'm sorry GB let me be more clear.  I read the wiki article.  It provided a link to a, novel?  I take it you did more research than what you have here. 

Similar stories indeed.  Thanks for sharing it.
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2014, 08:19:59 AM »
A novel? I missed that... which novel?
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2014, 08:50:24 AM »
Jesus ben AnaniasWiki
Quote
Jesus ben Ananias ("the son of Ananias") was a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the First Jewish-Roman War began in 66 AD, went around Jerusalem prophesying the city's destruction. The Jewish leaders of Jerusalem turned him over to the Romans, who tortured him.

[…] And when Albinus (Lucceius AlbinusWiki) [for he was then our procurator] asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him.

Anyone recognise a New Testament story?
M'r:15:1: And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.
M'r:15:2: And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.
M'r:15:3: And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.
M'r:15:4: And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.
M'r:15:5: But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.

M't:27:11: And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
M't:27:12: And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
M't:27:13: Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
M't:27:14: And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

Lu:23:3: And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.
Lu:23:4: Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.

Joh:18:37: Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Joh:18:38: Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

Is this just a coincidence, a regular occurrence? The Jewish elders all brought madmen to Pilate if the lunatics had offended God? After all, “Jesus” was a relatively common name in 1st century Judea, or have the stories of the New Testament been constructed around several local heros/characters/events and simply been attributed to a mythical but longed-for "Messiah"?

And then there is: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/anxiousbench/2013/06/the-mocking-of-carabbas/

Quote
There was a certain madman named Carabbas … […] the sport of idle children and wanton youths; […] setting him up there on high that he might be seen by everybody, flattened out a leaf of papyrus and put it on his head instead of a diadem, and … when, […], he … had been dressed and adorned like a king, … Then from the multitude of those who were standing around there arose a wonderful shout of men calling out “Maris”; and this is the name by which it is said that they call the kings among the Syrians; …

The story of this Jesus (from the Hebrew for Joshua meaning "The Lord Saves") is written by Josephus (per Wikipedia).  Depending on who you talk with, Josephus is either one of the finest historians of his time or one of the worst historians of his time.  There doesn't seem to be much middle ground. 

One can argue that the Gospel writers used the story of Jesus ben Ananias for the narrative regarding Jesus of Nazareth.  And one can argue that Josephus lifted the Gospel writers account to talk about Jesus ben Ananias.  I don't know one can be proven over the other. 

Still, it is an interesting reference and reinforces my understanding there were many in Jerusalem preaching / predicting the end times due to the Roman rule prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.  This was not a pleasant time and the Jews seemed divided on what to do with the Romans.  There were those who wanted to start another Maccabees war as was done against the Greeks.  There were those who were convinced it was fool hardy and the best course was to get along with the Romans as best as possible. 

My two cents,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

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Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2014, 08:54:44 AM »
What is the evidence this Jesus ever existed? Curious...JB

Here are a couple of links to check into.  Granted, it is Wikipedia, but it gives you a starting point.

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

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

As always,

OldChurchGuy
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle - Philo of Alexandria

Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion - Dalai Lama

Offline penfold

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2014, 08:56:59 AM »
What is the evidence this Jesus ever existed? Curious...JB

While there are a few highly contested reference to Jesus in near-contemporary historical sources in general it is accepted that the historical evidence for Jesus is to be found in Christian texts.

The best sources in terms of being close to contemporary with Jesus himself are:

(i) Pauline letters - written within 3-20 years after the crucifixion
(ii) The synoptic gospels - the earliest parts of Mark probably date to about 20 to 30 years after the crucifixion.
(iii) The non-canonical gospel of Thomas - earliest parts also probably within 20 to 30 years.

For what it is worth my suspicion is that we can be reasonably sure that there is some historical figure who 'became' Jesus. I have a number of reasons for this:

First, there is a core group of sayings and parables which make it into all of the early sources; while this may have another explanation by far the simplest is that they came from one figure.

Second, we know there were many historical figures around that time claiming to be Messiah (eg John the Baptist) so it would seem peculiar that the one who 'made it' was fictional.

Third, there are some aspects to the story like Jesus title of Nazareen (ie born in the obscure backwater of Nazareth) which would not be given to a fictional Messiah; if he were fictional he would have almost certainly have been born in Bethlehem (as later stories in Lk and Jn claim) or Jerusalem. Similar are events like Jesus' rejection in his home town and cry of abandonment on the cross - if Jesus were fictional they would almost certainly not be included as they detract from his status.

Fourth, Christianity quickly comes under fire from the traditional Jews they find many reasons for attacking the Jesus-cult, if he were fictional one would expect that they would have at least made the charge. The fact that even his early critics accept the historical reality of Jesus is telling.

If you want a far more detailed discussion Bultmann is the guy to read: http://www.religion.emory.edu/faculty/robbins/Pdfs/BultmannNTMyth.pdf

Hope that helps  :)
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline junebug72

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2014, 09:13:28 AM »
A novel? I missed that... which novel?

I wasn't sure that's why I was asking.  I know I should have just clicked.   I just basically wanted to know what you had already found.
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2014, 09:26:42 AM »
The story of this Jesus (from the Hebrew for Joshua meaning "The Lord Saves") is written by Josephus (per Wikipedia).  Depending on who you talk with, Josephus is either one of the finest historians of his time or one of the worst historians of his time.  There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.
I am disappointed that you should cast doubt on Josephus in this instance.

If you read Josephus, and I'm sure you have, his reports (You may agree that they are 'reports' and not 'stories') are broadly divisible into two: Those concerning the political and military exploits of the Jews and Romans and those that are glimpses into everyday life. Whereas any reporter can be accused of bias where he is paid by one side, his stories of everyday life are unlikely to be biased or inaccurate - they are background interest. So, here, Josephus is not acting as historian but as "Your local reporter." If, in this instance, we ask "Quis bono?" (Whom does it benefit?) the answer is "nobody."

For these reasons, the story of Jesus ben Ananias has a very high probability of being true. The point of it seems to be his surprising death. You can see the headlines "Mad Man killed by rock!" - Josephus's superiors would like to read such things, just as we all do. Gruesome deaths are always interesting.

See also the parallel: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/28/world/asia/pakistan-british-man-blasphemy/

Quote
And one can argue that Josephus lifted the Gospel writers account to talk about Jesus ben Ananias.
Wouldn't that be strange? Why would anyone want to do such a thing? Josephus was a Jew. Were the gospels around when he wrote that? Why would he read Gospels? Whose Gospel would he read?

Quote
Still, it is an interesting reference and reinforces my understanding there were many in Jerusalem preaching / predicting the end times due to the Roman rule prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E.
Indeed. And thus we might think that the stories of these characters were combined and placed under the heading of one person. I'd refer you to the character "Mullah Nasruddin" He was, allegedly, a man filled with wise sayings and is buried in about 8 different places. It seems that story-tellers would tell a good story about someone they called "Mullah Nasruddin" and, when asked for more, they obliged by either inventing them or adapting the deeds of others but kept the name as they knew people liked "Mullah Nasruddin" stories.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2014, 10:09:31 AM »
Quote

If you read Josephus, and I'm sure you have, his reports (You may agree that they are 'reports' and not 'stories') are broadly divisible into two: Those concerning the political and military exploits of the Jews and Romans and those that are glimpses into everyday life. Whereas any reporter can be accused of bias where he is paid by one side, his stories of everyday life are unlikely to be biased or inaccurate - they are background interest. So, here, Josephus is not acting as historian but as "Your local reporter." If, in this instance, we ask "Quis bono?" (Whom does it benefit?) the answer is "nobody."

For these reasons, the story of Jesus ben Ananias has a very high probability of being true. The point of it seems to be his surprising death. You can see the headlines "Mad Man killed by rock!" - Josephus's superiors would like to read such things, just as we all do. Gruesome deaths are always interesting.

See also the parallel: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/28/world/asia/pakistan-british-man-blasphemy/ 

It was not my intent to malign Josephus.  I recall from various posts on this website, he is either revered or degraded depending on the quote attributed to him.  And, from checking other internet websites that seems to hold true outside this web page. 

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Josephus.html

http://www.josephus.org/

Quote
And one can argue that Josephus lifted the Gospel writers account to talk about Jesus ben Ananias.
Wouldn't that be strange? Why would anyone want to do such a thing? Josephus was a Jew. Were the gospels around when he wrote that? Why would he read Gospels? Whose Gospel would he read? [/quote]

You are correct about questioning the dates.  Josephus died in 100 C.E. so it is unlikely he had access to any of the gospels. 

Quote
Indeed. And thus we might think that the stories of these characters were combined and placed under the heading of one person. I'd refer you to the character "Mullah Nasruddin" He was, allegedly, a man filled with wise sayings and is buried in about 8 different places. It seems that story-tellers would tell a good story about someone they called "Mullah Nasruddin" and, when asked for more, they obliged by either inventing them or adapting the deeds of others but kept the name as they knew people liked "Mullah Nasruddin" stories.

One thought occurs to me which is often brought up regarding Jesus the Christ.  Is there any documentation by the Romans of the execution of Jesus Ben Ananias?

Sincerely,

OldChurchGuy
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Online wheels5894

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2014, 01:20:39 PM »
What is the evidence this Jesus ever existed? Curious...JB

While there are a few highly contested reference to Jesus in near-contemporary historical sources

the problem with these sources is that they are later than Jesus and describe 'what Chrisitians said they believed' as distinct from describing the events that caused them to believe. Thus PLiny the Younger's letter to Trajan for example.

Quote
in general it is accepted that the historical evidence for Jesus is to be found in Christian texts.

The best sources in terms of being close to contemporary with Jesus himself are:

(i) Pauline letters - written within 3-20 years after the crucifixion
(ii) The synoptic gospels - the earliest parts of Mark probably date to about 20 to 30 years after the crucifixion.
(iii) The non-canonical gospel of Thomas - earliest parts also probably within 20 to 30 years.

You are giving some quite early dates for the biblical sources here. Mark, the earliest gospel is usually dated to around 70CE. Identifying 'the earliest parts' is very speculative at best and, considering there is nothing much to use to date any of it, hardly worth the effort. The fact is that we have a 2 generation gap between Jesus and Mark - a gap big enough to generate some interesting myths which are probably part of Mark's narrative.

Paul seems to fit into the period ending in the early 60s but that is also problematic. There are no historical records of Paul outwith the biblical texts - basically Acts - and the archaeological work at the various places he claims to have founded churches does come up with anything to validate the biblical accounts. As such, Paul might be an early account - he might even have, in effect, invented the religion itself - or it might be quite a lot later. Paul's style and content isn't like the gospels so it is unlikely that either Mark or he used the other as a source so we can't date anything like that. Really, Paul isn't well enough documented to claim it to be early enough to the events described and Paul wasn't an eye witness anyway.

Good luck dating Thomas! As a saying gospel it hasn't anything helpful in it to tie down a date. It might be early and then again - with the Gnostic stuff in it -it might be 2nd century. Again it doesn't help the casue unless it can be tied down to an early date and there is nothing to help do that.
 
Quote
For what it is worth my suspicion is that we can be reasonably sure that there is some historical figure who 'became' Jesus. I have a number of reasons for this:

First, there is a core group of sayings and parables which make it into all of the early sources; while this may have another explanation by far the simplest is that they came from one figure.

Second, we know there were many historical figures around that time claiming to be Messiah (eg John the Baptist) so it would seem peculiar that the one who 'made it' was fictional.

Third, there are some aspects to the story like Jesus title of Nazareen (ie born in the obscure backwater of Nazareth) which would not be given to a fictional Messiah; if he were fictional he would have almost certainly have been born in Bethlehem (as later stories in Lk and Jn claim) or Jerusalem. Similar are events like Jesus' rejection in his home town and cry of abandonment on the cross - if Jesus were fictional they would almost certainly not be included as they detract from his status.

Fourth, Christianity quickly comes under fire from the traditional Jews they find many reasons for attacking the Jesus-cult, if he were fictional one would expect that they would have at least made the charge. The fact that even his early critics accept the historical reality of Jesus is telling.

If you want a far more detailed discussion Bultmann is the guy to read: http://www.religion.emory.edu/faculty/robbins/Pdfs/BultmannNTMyth.pdf

Hope that helps  :)
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline junebug72

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2014, 03:15:43 PM »
What is the evidence this Jesus ever existed? Curious...JB

While there are a few highly contested reference to Jesus in near-contemporary historical sources in general it is accepted that the historical evidence for Jesus is to be found in Christian texts.

The best sources in terms of being close to contemporary with Jesus himself are:

(i) Pauline letters - written within 3-20 years after the crucifixion
(ii) The synoptic gospels - the earliest parts of Mark probably date to about 20 to 30 years after the crucifixion.
(iii) The non-canonical gospel of Thomas - earliest parts also probably within 20 to 30 years.

For what it is worth my suspicion is that we can be reasonably sure that there is some historical figure who 'became' Jesus. I have a number of reasons for this:

First, there is a core group of sayings and parables which make it into all of the early sources; while this may have another explanation by far the simplest is that they came from one figure.

Second, we know there were many historical figures around that time claiming to be Messiah (eg John the Baptist) so it would seem peculiar that the one who 'made it' was fictional.

Third, there are some aspects to the story like Jesus title of Nazareen (ie born in the obscure backwater of Nazareth) which would not be given to a fictional Messiah; if he were fictional he would have almost certainly have been born in Bethlehem (as later stories in Lk and Jn claim) or Jerusalem. Similar are events like Jesus' rejection in his home town and cry of abandonment on the cross - if Jesus were fictional they would almost certainly not be included as they detract from his status.

Fourth, Christianity quickly comes under fire from the traditional Jews they find many reasons for attacking the Jesus-cult, if he were fictional one would expect that they would have at least made the charge. The fact that even his early critics accept the historical reality of Jesus is telling.

If you want a far more detailed discussion Bultmann is the guy to read: http://www.religion.emory.edu/faculty/robbins/Pdfs/BultmannNTMyth.pdf

Hope that helps  :)

Thanks penfold.  Very helpful.
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2014, 03:53:14 PM »
One thought occurs to me which is often brought up regarding Jesus the Christ.  Is there any documentation by the Romans of the execution of Jesus Ben Ananias?

Touché!

Well, unless you count Flavius Josephus as "Roman documentation", I don't suppose so, but he was not executed, he was hit by a large rock fired from a Roman catapult - look on it as "collateral damage." : ) Also, Josephus does not say that Jesus Ben Ananias went around raising the dead, walking on water, turning water into wine, etc. merely that he was a lunatic and so did not reach the heights of notice that someone who did that sort of thing might.


Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2014, 04:15:01 PM »
One thought occurs to me which is often brought up regarding Jesus the Christ.  Is there any documentation by the Romans of the execution of Jesus Ben Ananias?

Touché!

Well, unless you count Flavius Josephus as "Roman documentation", I don't suppose so, but he was not executed, he was hit by a large rock fired from a Roman catapult - look on it as "collateral damage." : ) Also, Josephus does not say that Jesus Ben Ananias went around raising the dead, walking on water, turning water into wine, etc. merely that he was a lunatic and so did not reach the heights of notice that someone who did that sort of thing might.

Have you seen the movie "The Last Temptation of Christ"?  As I recall the opening scenes, they did a very credible job of showing the unrest and multiple Messiahs which were in Jerusalem at the time.  Some people had a hard time separating the theology from the history as I remember.

As always,

OldChurchGuy
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2014, 06:02:57 PM »
I've not seen the film but having travelled on the Indian Subcontinent, I know there is no shortage of these fellows even today. Ours tend to be locked up[1].

However, there are a few loose-ends but first a site that lays out the similarities between Jesus in the Gospel of Mark and Jesus[2] in Josephus' Jewish War even more graphically: http://vridar.info/xorigins/josephus/2jesus.htm

Now the loose ends:

Josephus's writings reference Jesus who may be the one of the Gospels twice more: once in Antiquities of the Jews, (xx.9)

"Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned...[3] which does not at all fit with
Lu:24:49: And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
Lu:24:50: And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.
Lu:24:51: And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.
Lu:24:52: And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:
Lu:24:53: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
[4]

The questions surrounding James are strange. The Gospel writers claim that James did not follow his brother until after the Resurrection - I suspect sibling rivalry and that Jesus (of the Gospels) was seen by him much as you describe one of "multiple Messiahs[5]."

And the infamous entry, in Book 18, Chapter 3, 3 of the Antiquities[6] of which the less said the better as it give more heat than light.


 1. see The Three Christs of YpsilantiWiki
 2. I am told there are at least 20 Jesuses mentioned in Josephus's writings
 3.  see http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Antiquities_of_the_Jews/Book_XX#Chapter_9 and James the JustWiki for a variety of explanations and speculation on who James was.
 4. A thought has crossed my mind and you may be able to help: if they were now "the first Christians" and believed that Christ was the Son of God, why did they go to a temple?
 5. see also "The Life of Brian"
 6. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Antiquities_of_the_Jews/Book_XVIII#Chapter_3 Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline kcrady

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2014, 03:15:58 AM »
BM
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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2014, 03:24:23 AM »
You are giving some quite early dates for the biblical sources here. Mark, the earliest gospel is usually dated to around 70CE. Identifying 'the earliest parts' is very speculative at best and, considering there is nothing much to use to date any of it, hardly worth the effort. The fact is that we have a 2 generation gap between Jesus and Mark - a gap big enough to generate some interesting myths which are probably part of Mark's narrative.

The date of 70CE is certainly plausible (as for that matter is a later dating of 150CE). However I prefer an earlier date precisely because of the lack of elaborate myths! I make the, I feel, not unreasonable assumption that many of the miracle stories are early. We know from other 'charismatic cults' both in antiquity but also in the medieval period (and the modern day) that attribution of miraculous powers often get attributed to cult leaders in their lifetimes.

The stories I see as obvious fictions are those which either (a) fullfil an OT prophecy or (b) Jesus directly claims to be God.

Mark is lacking in both. I think (b) is especially telling. We have a number of stories in very different sources - Acts, Book of Philip, Gospel of Mary which depict a struggle between two factions in the disciples after JC's death. Peter on the one hand and Mary (with Thomas' support) on the other. It seems that the root of this disagreement is that Mary claims JC gave her 'secret knowledge' while Peter claims JC has risen from the dead. My feeling is that the notion of JC as God starts with Peter; the fact that it is a claim only found in the mouths of others in Mark leads me to place it early - within a generation.

Quote

Paul seems to fit into the period ending in the early 60s but that is also problematic. There are no historical records of Paul outwith the biblical texts - basically Acts - and the archaeological work at the various places he claims to have founded churches does come up with anything to validate the biblical accounts.

This is very special pleading. History in Antiquity and early Medieval periods often suffer from a lack of sources. So there is always some uncertainty but the claim that Pauline literature is mere fiction is a paranoid interpretation. As for archaeology it is unlikely the early cults engaged in mammoth building programs; so their footprint could easily have vanished.

Quote
Good luck dating Thomas!

I wouldn't try; but I think we can date parts. Professor Koester's work details how some saying which appear both in the synoptic and in Thomas are far closer to Aramaic in the Thomas versions. Thus I agree with him that we can make a reasonable claim that parts of the Gospel are earlier than Luke and probably earlier than Matthew and Mark too.



Having said that all these dates are contestable. I still stand by my conclusion that the historical Jesus most likely existed for the reasons I gave.

 :)
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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2014, 10:23:07 AM »

Having said that all these dates are contestable. I still stand by my conclusion that the historical Jesus most likely existed for the reasons I gave.

The best we can ever say, as you have done, is "To me, and on the balance of probabilities XYZ."

Here is an article by Richard Carrier who tackles the Gospel of Matthew describing just some of the the insurmountable difficulties in dating (biblical) historical sources. http://richardcarrier.blogspot.dk/2008/09/ignatian-vexation.html
Quote
Many issues I thought were cut-and-dried are actually mired in complexity, ... The two most annoying examples of this (though not the only ones) are in dating the contents of the New Testament and identifying their authorship and editorial history. There is no consensus on either,

In each paragraph, and there are many, you think a solution has been reached, only to have that pulled from your hands by a new problem.

Worth a read.


« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 10:52:40 AM by Graybeard »
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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2014, 11:20:31 AM »
Thanks for an interesting article to read. It rather shows how difficult it is to date the gospels and thus to see how close to Jesus they were. Given there's nothing in the NT that is quoted in the 1st century, the whole of these texts could be really quite late if we don't assume

Paul is writing when the text says he was - and given the evidence outwith the NT for the existence of Paul and his churches in nil - Paul could have been writing much later. Paul is always assumed to be the earliest text in the NT and, although Paul never met Jesus, he is thought of as having early testimony to him. If his date is in doubt then historical Jesus claims are also in doubt. 

Moving things along in the dates does leave room for other choices of Jesus though I don't favour them because the longer after the dead of Jesus there is, the more the stories build up and I'm pretty sure if Christians could visit Jesus back then they would be unimpressed with the lack of miracles.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2014, 11:43:06 AM »
I agree, Christianity is a bit of a misnomer: a substantial amount of the dogma is postulated upon the writings of Paul who never saw Jesus, although he did meet Peter but disagreed with him. http://sethrichardson.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/peter-vs-paul-agree-to-disagree/ and James the Just (allegedly the half-brother of Christ) defended Peter: http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/doctrine/JamesPau.htm

Here we see the Pauline view that salvation is by faith alone. This was quite clever, it required a church to explain that faith and to keep members faithful, whereas salvation by deeds required no church, merely people being reasonable. The latter view seems more in line with Jesus of the Gospels.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2014, 05:52:32 PM »
All of the other Jesuses used to laugh and call him names..... :angel:
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2014, 06:55:38 PM »
Was Jesus even called Jesus in his time? In Matthew he's "Jesus", in Isaiah, I believe, he's Immanuel. Was he called Jesus or Immanuel, or some other name (like Joshua?)?

-Nam
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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2014, 05:27:53 AM »
While there are a few highly contested reference to Jesus in near-contemporary historical sources in general it is accepted that the historical evidence for Jesus is to be found in Christian texts.

The best sources in terms of being close to contemporary with Jesus himself are:

(i) Pauline letters - written within 3-20 years after the crucifixion

Paul's letters describe Jesus as an eternal celestial God-man who created the Cosmos and appeared to people like Paul in ecstatic visionary experiences.  There is no indication in the Pauline corpus that his Jesus ever walked the wilderness of Galilee, spoke to large crowds of Jews in Israel, was born in any particular Earthly location, etc..  There are phrases that sound like they're talking about a human (maybe), e.g. "born of (lit. "made of/from") woman," "according to the flesh," and so forth.  On the other hand, Osiris was a king in Egypt, had a brother named Set who trapped him in a sarcophagus, dismembered his body and scattered it up and down the Nile, his phallus was swallowed by a fish, and so on.  IMO the strongest evidence for historicity in Paul is the "James, the brother of the Lord" reference in Galatians.  "Mythicists" interpret this as Paul probably referring to James as the member of a select Christian order ("the Brothers of the Lord"), pointing to other places where Paul uses the term "brother" metaphorically.  This does seem like a bit of a stretch (i.e., Peter is not a "Brother of the Lord" even though he's apparently in the inner circle that Paul is arguing against), but IMO there are historicist arguments that are just as "stretchy."  I'm not sure either side can really "prove" its case with the data we have.

(ii) The synoptic gospels - the earliest parts of Mark probably date to about 20 to 30 years after the crucifixion.
(iii) The non-canonical gospel of Thomas - earliest parts also probably within 20 to 30 years.

Whether or not these qualify as "sources" for a historical Jesus depends on whether or not they were intended as such when they were written.  It's possible, but I think there's some good evidence that they were originally written as parables about Jesus, rather than "remembered history" of his life.  One evidence for this IMO is the way the Gospel writers handle their material.  They had no problem taking a "saying of Jesus" and inserting it into a completely different narrative context than a previous Gospel writer used, even when they also copy whole sections of the same source Gospel verbatim.  They move periscopes (Jesus stories) around to meet their own literary aims, rather than having any apparent concern for "getting the facts right."  If "recording the true events of Jesus' life and teachings" mattered, I don't think we'd see this sort of thing.  The Gospel authros act more like fanfic writers, borrowing and changing at will, crafting "stories of Jesus" to resemble passages from Hebrew scripture (which are then retconned as "prophecies" of Jesus), and so on.  There's a video (I'm at work so I can't look it up at the moment) of a talk by Richard Carrier, where he shows how the Gospels often exhibit a "chiasmic" structure, sometimes recursively.  "Events" of Jesus' "life" are arranged in symmetrical structures around a pivot, so that the "later" events correspond to and reflect the "earlier" events in order, conveying esoteric meaning.  This sort of thing smacks of clever literary construction, rather than writing down the recollections of the elders. 

For what it is worth my suspicion is that we can be reasonably sure that there is some historical figure who 'became' Jesus. I have a number of reasons for this:

First, there is a core group of sayings and parables which make it into all of the early sources; while this may have another explanation by far the simplest is that they came from one figure.

These sayings and parables may have been originally circulated independently of any narrative context in a "remembered life of Jesus," as we see in the Gospel of Thomas.  I think it is possible that they could have originated as "channeled revelations" from a celestial Jesus like the one in Paul's letters or the Book of Hebrews.  The BoH appears to have been written prior to the Jewish War and the destruction of the Temple, since it goes to great pains to argue that Jesus offers a superior "way" than the Jewish Temple and clergy, which it treats as still in operation.  Hebrews 8:4 explicitly denies that Jesus could have performed his "priestly" work of paying for sins with his blood on Earth ("For if he were on Earth, he would not be a priest").  The Book of Revelation is (AFAIK) later than the rest of the NT books, but it portrays a completely mystical-visionary "biography" of Jesus, in which he is born from a celestial Woman (clothed with the sun and moon and 12 stars, an archetype of Israel) and snatched up as a baby into Heaven so that the Dragon which waits to seize him at birth is foiled.  No Earthly life, no body of handed-down teachings, no miracles in Galilee and Jerusalem, no crucifixion by Romans.  Yet the Revelation of John includes whole treatises of "teachings of Jesus" directed to Christian communities (the "letters to the seven churches").  The BoR provides unequivocal proof that at least some Christians believed in a Jesus without a human life, who appeared in visions and "channeled" teachings through certain individuals.

Second, we know there were many historical figures around that time claiming to be Messiah (eg John the Baptist) so it would seem peculiar that the one who 'made it' was fictional.

There were also plenty of non-historical God-men revered in the Mystery Schools: Osiris, Attis, Dionysus, etc..  It was fairly common for these to follow a death-and-resurrection trope just as Jesus does.  Also, if the "mythicist" (I really dislike that term) hypothesis is correct, the earliest Christians would not have considered their Jesus to be "fictional" any more than the worshipers of Osiris, Attis, Mithras, etc. considered the God-men at the center of their faiths to be fictions.

Third, there are some aspects to the story like Jesus title of Nazareen (ie born in the obscure backwater of Nazareth) which would not be given to a fictional Messiah; if he were fictional he would have almost certainly have been born in Bethlehem (as later stories in Lk and Jn claim) or Jerusalem.

I don't think this is a good argument.  Nazareth was a very tiny, insignificant village, so small that evidence of its existence in Jesus' time is pretty sparse.[1]  If Jesus or his followers wanted to represent that he'd be born in Bethlehem in order to fit Messianic expectations, he or they could have just said so without much fear of being gainsaid.  Only a tiny handful of poor, illiterate peasants would have "known" Jesus from "his Nazareth days," and most of them would stay right there in Nazareth, rather than showing up in Antioch or Jerusalem or Smyrna to call out Christian evangelists and "set the facts straight." 

Now let's look at the "cover stories" that are used in the narratives to move Jesus from his "birth in Bethlehem" to Nazareth.  In Matthew, it's "Herod's murder of the innocents," a supposed massacre of baby boys and toddlers covering the entire region of Bethlehem.  In Luke, it's an Empire-wide "census" that supposedly required everyone in the Empire to go back to wherever their ancestors lived a thousand years ago (the putative reason Joseph and Mary have to go to King David's ancestral birthplace.  If the authors of gMatthew and gLuke were worried about being caught with their factual pants down ("Hey, Jesus wasn't born in Bethlehem!  He was born three houses down from me in Nazareth!"), their "cover stories" are much bigger albatrosses than origins in Nazareth would have been.  Matthew's story could have been contradicted by just about anybody who lived in Judea under Herod.  Luke's story is even worse.  No matter where Christians went in the Empire, they'd be met with gales of laughter about the "census" that everyone knew never happened.  It would be like trying to convince Americans that President Nixon ordered every American to paint their foreheads purple on June 17th, 1970.

What these stories do is set Jesus in opposition to The Powers That Be from his birth.  Matthew's story is a re-casting of Moses' birth legend, with Herod in the role of the evil Pharaoh.  "Baby Jesus" becomes the new Joseph, sent into Egypt to flee the persecution of his "brothers," the Jewish establishment in collaboration with Rome.  He returns as the archetypal embodiment of the Jewish nation, "for out of Egypt I have called my son."  In context, the passage from Hosea that Matthew applies to Jesus is a reference to the Jewish nation in the Exodus story.  Luke's story, written for a broader audience, makes Emperor Augustus the "heavy," with a census--the primary vehicle of the Roman taxation system--as his mechanism.  Both stories immediately identify Jesus with the lot of the poor and downtrodden.   

Why Nazareth?  "Nazareen" (someone from Nazareth) is a sound-alike word for "Nazorean," a member of an order of ascetics who took a vow of abstinence, a gesture of devotion and piety.  It could have been a play on words that simultaneously pointed to Jesus' holiness (and to a way-of-life example for the Jesus community at the time), and represented the ultimate "underdog origin," not unlike the way Superman's exalted extraterrestrial origin was "hidden" in an origin with an all-American, salt-of-the-Earth Kansas farming family.

Similar are events like Jesus' rejection in his home town and cry of abandonment on the cross - if Jesus were fictional they would almost certainly not be included as they detract from his status.

I think "detracting from his status" is probably the point.  Jesus and the "Kingdom of God" he embodied is set against the worldly power-structures and status hierarchies.  He grows up in the ultimate underdog town as a resident, but was born in a stable, "has no place to lay his head," etc..  Jesus' "cry of abandonment from the cross" is a quote from Psalm 22, which provides the narrative framework for "the crucifixion story."  When Paul describes Jesus' "biography" ("born of woman," "of the seed of David according to the flesh" and so on), he repeatedly uses the phrase "according to the scriptures" to indicate his source of authority for these "facts," rather than "according to James and Peter's eyewitness testimony" or anything along those lines.  To me this sounds like the earliest Christians "discovered" the "life and deeds" of Jesus in the higher spiritual realm through esoteric readings of the Jewish scriptures, a "Bible code" of sorts.  We see Paul do this sort of thing in the 4th chapter of Galatians, where he says that Sarah represents the Heavenly Jerusalem and [his version of] Christianity, in contrast to Hagar, symbolic of the Earthly Jerusalem and the Jewish law.  Obviously the author of Genesis did not have cities--"spiritual" or otherwise--in mind when he wrote the story of Sarah, Hagar, and their sons.  The Book of Genesis is written from a perspective that favors pastoral nomads (e.g. Abraham) over city-dwellers.  Cities are regularly identified with evil: The first city is built by Cain, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and so on.

In short (yeah, right :) ), the earliest Christians did not view the Hebrew scriptures as historical-scientific treatises meant to be treated as ironclad Real, True Facts the way modern fundamentalists do.  Instead, they treated them as a wellspring of esoterically-revealed spiritual truth, re-casting, retconning, and allegorizing them in ways no one would ever do with Facts.  The Gospel writers treat the "stories" of Jesus in the same way. 

Fourth, Christianity quickly comes under fire from the traditional Jews they find many reasons for attacking the Jesus-cult, if he were fictional one would expect that they would have at least made the charge. The fact that even his early critics accept the historical reality of Jesus is telling.

Which "early critics" are you referring to?  AFAIK we don't have any writings from critics of Christianity within a hundred years or so of its origin, and most if not all of those are "quotes" in Christian writings opposing them, which may not necessarily represent the critics' positions accurately.  By the time we start getting records of anti-Christian arguments from traditional Jews and Gentiles, the proto-Catholic Church is cementing its power as an institution, and as the winner, it got to write history.  If the "mythicist" position is correct, "Jesus" started out as a spiritual divine figure who was later euhemerized into a human on Earth (some ancient writers did the same thing for Zeus, et. al., claiming that they were originally prominent humans who were divinized over time).  One motive for doing this sort of thing would be to legitimize a doctrine of "Apostolic Succession"--the claim that the proto-Catholic leadership represented a "dynasty" of sorts (through "laying-on-of-hands" by older Popes and Bishops to younger ones rather than genetic descent) going back to Jesus and his Apostles.  Another would be the fact that a simple, literal "Gospels-as-history" version of Christianity would be easier to market to the masses than the esoteric Mystery School version.  It's also much more amenable to being turned into dogma ("you have to believe and what we say because we have The Truthtm") than a collection of mystic revelations which invite flexible interpretation and individual ecstatic experience of "the divine" for oneself.

If the mainstream historicist view is correct, then there would have been a movement of equal scope, just in the opposite direction.  Early Christians would have taken an obscure, fairly ordinary man and turned him into the One True, big-G God, Maker of Heaven and Earth.  That would have represented just as much fodder for critics, especially Jews, but we don't see this either AFAIK.  When Paul is arguing against Judaism and the "Judaizers," the Big Issues are things like circumcision, obedience to the Torah, and the relationship between Jews and Gentiles.  He never reacts to any Jewish argument against the notion of a man being Yahweh in the flesh, or hurling the Shema ("Hear O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is One!") in his face.  This makes sense if he and his followers were cosmopolitan, Hellenized Jews similar to Philo of Alexandria, who advocated a reconciliation of Judaism and Greek mysticism (complete with a Divine Intermediary, identified as the Logos), and their debates were against others fairly similar to themselves. 
 1. I'm not saying it didn't exist at the time as some "mythicists" do, only that it was so small and lightly populated that there's not much to show for it in Jesus' day.
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2014, 01:18:04 AM »
Was Jesus even called Jesus in his time? In Matthew he's "Jesus", in Isaiah, I believe, he's Immanuel. Was he called Jesus or Immanuel, or some other name (like Joshua?)?

Minutia: In Hebrew, "Jesus" and "Joshua" are the same name (Yeshua).
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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2014, 01:36:40 AM »
Was Jesus even called Jesus in his time? In Matthew he's "Jesus", in Isaiah, I believe, he's Immanuel. Was he called Jesus or Immanuel, or some other name (like Joshua?)?

Minutia: In Hebrew, "Jesus" and "Joshua" are the same name (Yeshua).

I get that[1], I'm just saying was he actually called Jesus, or something else?

-Nam
 1. I read wiki
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2014, 11:37:59 AM »

I get that[1], I'm just saying was he actually called Jesus, or something else?
 1. I read wiki
What, you mean his parents and all his friends called him, for example, "Dave" or "Eric"?
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Nam

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2014, 12:58:53 PM »

I get that[1], I'm just saying was he actually called Jesus, or something else?
 1. I read wiki
What, you mean his parents and all his friends called him, for example, "Dave" or "Eric"?

I mean, if he perhaps wasn't called "Jesus" until the writers of Matthew etc., decided that he was the "Jesus", what did he go by in his lifetime[2]?

-Nam
 2. on the predication that he ever existed to begin with
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2014, 01:47:34 PM »
OK. I don;t think there are any documents that record anything about the biblical character "Jesus" other than those that were written after his alleged death. That is (a) not to say that one or two will never appear but (b) if they did appear, it would provide difficulty if he were, in that document, called, e.g. Jeremiah - how would we know that this was really "Jesus"?

It is similar to William Shakespeare, for whom there is little early documentation, "How do we know that William Shakespeare was not christened "John Molestrangler" and adopted "William Shakespeare" as a pen-name?"
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

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Re: One of the other Jesuses
« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2014, 02:11:00 PM »
OK. I don;t think there are any documents that record anything about the biblical character "Jesus" other than those that were written after his alleged death. That is (a) not to say that one or two will never appear but (b) if they did appear, it would provide difficulty if he were, in that document, called, e.g. Jeremiah - how would we know that this was really "Jesus"?

It is similar to William Shakespeare, for whom there is little early documentation, "How do we know that William Shakespeare was not christened "John Molestrangler" and adopted "William Shakespeare" as a pen-name?"

Actually, I saw a 17th cent. script that stated his name was actually "Willy Shakespenis". I kid you not[1].

-Nam
 1. okay...that's a lie ;)
This thread is about lab-grown dicks, not some mincy, old, British poof of an actor. 

Let's get back on topic, please.