There are two basic reasons we can put this nonsense behind us:
(1) There is no reason why we have to theorize that the original evangelists strooped to copying pagan lore when all the elements of the dying rising messiah were present in Judaism.
(2) We can prove Jesus existed as a man in history.
The Whole thesis that the story of Jesus is shaped out of bits and pieces of the mono myth, archetypes from all cultures that make up the basis of all mythology, is extraneous to the facts. All the elements of the Jesus story come from Judaism, including that of the suffering Messiah whose death has atoning implications for his people. This is nothing new. This fact has been known for more than two decades. It comes from several fragments found at Qumran, suggesting that Messiah would atone for the sins of Israel. In fact, the atonement implications were discussed in his book The Dead Sea Scrolls by John Allegro as ealry as 1962. But fragments from Qumran were discovered in the 80s.
Dead Sea Scrolls Isaiah 9
[John Allegro, The Dead Sea scrolls, Pelican, 1956] Allegro was the only member of the original translation team who was neither Christain nor Jew, but claimed "nutrality." However, he was criticized by other members of the team as being anti-Chrsitian and skeptical]
[the most ancient source--pre Christian]
"In one of their hyms the sect pictures itself as a pregant woman suffering the pangs of parturition as she gives birth to her 'firstborn' who is described in terms reminiscent of the Child of Isaish 9:6, the 'Wonderful Counsellor.' Most scholars agree that the passage retains its biblical Messianic significance, in which case it appears that the Sect believed that out of its suffering of atonement for 'the land' would come the Anointed One or Christ."(161).
DSS Testament of Levi-- 2.1 4Q541 frag. 9 col. I/
2.2 4Q541 frag. 24 col. II
Messianic Hopes in the
Florentino Garcia Martinez
Florentino Garcia Martinez is professor at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, where he heads the Qumran Institute. This chapter is reprinted from The People of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Florentino Garcia Martinez and Julio Trebolle Barrera (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995).
"In spite of that, the general lines of the text are clear enough to assure us that in Qumran interpretation, Jacob's blessing of Judah was seen as a promise of the restoration of the davidic monarchy and of the perpetuity of his royal office. And since the future representative of the dynasty is identified not only as the shoot of David, but also explicitly as the "true anointed," there remains no doubt about the "messianic" tone of the text. Unfortunately, the details which the text provides about this "Messiah" are not many."
"... However, a recently published text enables us to glimpse an independent development of the hope in the coming of the "priestly Messiah" as an agent of salvation at the end of times."
"It is an Aramaic text, one of the copies of the Testament of Levi, recently published by E. Puech,32 which contains interesting parallels to chapter 19 of the Greek Testament of Levi included in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs. From what can be deduced from the remains preserved, the protagonist of the work (probably the patriarch Levi, although it cannot be completely excluded that it is Jacob speaking to Levi) speaks to his descendants in a series of exhortations. He also relates to them some of the visions which have been revealed to him. In one of them, he tells them of the coming of a mysterious person. Although the text is hopelessly fragmentary it is of special interest since it seems to evoke the figure of a "priestly Messiah." This "Messiah" is described with the features of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, as J. Starcky indicated in his first description of the manuscript.33 The two longest and most important fragments of this new text can be translated as follows:
2.1 4Q541 frag. 9 col. I
1 [. . .] the sons of the generation [. . .] 2 [. . .] his wisdom. And he will atone for all the children of his generation, and he will be sent to all the children of 3 his people. His word is like the word of the heavens, and his teaching, according to the will of God. His eternal sun will shine 4 and his fire will burn in all the ends of the earth; above the darkness his sun will shine. Then, darkness will vanish 5 from the earth, and gloom from the globe. They will utter many words against him, and an abundance of 6 lies; they will fabricate fables against him, and utter every kind of disparagement against him. His generation will change the evil, 7 and [. . .] established in deceit and in violence. The people will go astray in his days and they will be bewildered (DSST, 270).
.... The priestly character of this figure is indicated expressly by his atoning character: "And he will atone for all the children of his generation...."
The agreement of the person thus described with the "Messiah-priest" described in chapter 18 of the Greek Testament of Levi is surprising.34 At least it shows us that the presence of this priestly figure in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs should not simply be ascribed to interpolations or Christian influence. Rather, it is a development which exists already within Judaism. This text also shows us that the portrayal of this "Messiah-priest" with the features of the "Suffering Servant" of Deutero-Isaiah is not an innovation of purely Christian origin either, but the result of previous developments. Our text stresses that although he would be sent "to all the sons of his people," the opposition to this figure, "light of the nations" (Isaiah 42:6) would be great: "They will utter many words against him, and an abundance of lies; they will fabricate fables against him, and utter every kind of disparagement against him" (compare Isaiah 50:6&endash;8; 53:2&endash;10). What is more, according to the editor, it cannot be excluded that the Aramaic text even contained the idea of the violent death of this "Messiah-priest." In other words, this opposition would reach its ultimate outcome as in Isaiah 53. His argument comes from the other fairly extensive fragment of the work, in which possible allusions to a violent death by crucifixion are found. However, to me this interpretation seems problematic. The fragment in question can be translated as follows:
2.2 4Q541 frag. 24 col. II 2 Do not mourn for him [. . .] and do not [. . .] 3 And God will notice the failings [. . .] the uncovered failings [. . .] 4 Examine, ask and know what the dove has asked; do not punish one weakened because of exhaustion and from being uncertain a[ll . . .] 5 do not bring the nail near him. And you will establish for your father a name of joy, and for your brothers you will make a tested foundation rise. 6 You will see it and rejoice in eternal light. And you will not be of the enemy. Blank 7 Blank (DSST, 270).
... Whatever might be the possible allusion to the death of the expected "Messiah-priest," the identification of this figure with the "Servant" of Isaiah seems confirmed by the parallels indicated in fragment 9. In any case, the idea that the eventual death of the "Messiah-priest" could have an atoning role, as Christian tradition attributes to the death of the "Servant," is excluded from our text since the atonement he achieves (frag. 9 II 2) remains in the perspective of the cult.
As far as I know, this is the only text which in the preserved sections deals with the priestly "Messiah" alone. However, many other texts refer to this figure when speaking of a two-fold messianism. This is the two-headed messianism in which we are presented with the "davidic or royal Messiah" and the "levitical or priestly Messiah" together. They are called the "Messiahs of Israel and of Aaron" respectively."
[Martinez urges scholarly caution as the scrolls are very fragmentary, there is no guarontee they do not contiain references to other Messianich figures as well, and the notion of a curcifiction for the presitly Messiah is doubtful for several reasons, pertaining to the nture of the text--but his overall opinion seems to be that the concept of a Preistly Messiah on the order of the suffering servant is vindicated]
Qumran text, 4Q521
Hebrew Scholars Michael Wise and James Tabor wrote an article that appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review (Nov./Dec. 1992) analyzing 4Q521:
"Our Qumran text, 4Q521, is, astonishingly, quite close to this Christian concept of the Messiah. Our text speaks not only of a single Messianic figure.but it also describes him in extremely exalted terms, quite like the Christian view of Jesus as a cosmic agent. That there was, in fact, an expectation of a single Messianic figure at Qumran is really not so surprising. A reexamination of the Qumran literature on this subject leads one to question the two Messiah theory. As a matter of fact, only once in any Dead Sea Scroll text is the idea of two Messiahs stated unambiguously.
"There is no doubt that the Qumran community had faith in the ultimate victory of such a Messiah over all evil. However, a closer reading of these texts reveals an additional theme, equally dominant-that of an initial, though temporary, triumph of wicked over righteousness. That is, there was the belief among the Qumran community that the Messiah would suffer initial defeat, but that he would ultimately triumph in the end of days."
Of course I'm sure that mythers will reach for straws and argue that there was earlier pagan influence upon the Jews from Egypt. At that point we are just not talking about the same things anymore. The bread and whine are found in the passover ceremony which do have roots in arab culture, but thousands of years back. There is just no reason to pushing the pretense at that point. We don't need to reach for the pagan parallels to explain the major elements in the story.
In the words of the great scholar Franz Cumont, often quoted and admired by the Mythers themselves: "resemblances do not necessarily suppose an imitation," (The Mysteries of Mithra, p 194).
In terms of the second point: We can prove Jesus existed in history.
First, there are two important observations to make about the myther's standard of evidence:
(1) They do not use a historical standard. the demand a level of documentation that would only be possible in the modern world with the 6:00 news.
They do not seem to understand that documented sources on scene, form the hour,t he day even same year as the events are extremely rare. They poo poo the use of any historian because historians write years after the event and the level of documentation they exact is up to the minute. But no other figure in history can be documented in this manner prior to the invention of the telegraph. Almost all reports from the ancient world are written years after the fact. Now it's true that most are not written sixty years after, but even a couple of years is rare. This is not impossible but its not the norm either. Arguments made by mythers about trying to compare the solidity of documents proving Caesar existed to those of Jesus, are silly comparisons. Of course Cesar can be documented more easily than Jesus Caesar controlled the known world, he was the most important man in his day from the perspective of the world as such. Jesus was an unknown peasant. Events in the Roman world had importance only in relation to Rome. Jesus did not have much proximity to Rome, Geographically, politically, culturally, economically or otherwise.
Most of the Mythicist arguments turn on an argument from silence that fails to appreciate the true nature of history or documentation in the Roman world. For example, some will argue Philo doesn't mention Jesus, as though he should hear all about some guy in Palestine with no polsitical position, money or military accomplishment. With Messiahs and saviors and prophet figures cropping up every day out in the desert, and Philo in Rome or elsewhere most of the time, why should he hear about Jesus? If he did why should should he take note? Most of these internet sketpics seem obvious to the fact that they did not have the evening news.
(2) the use a totally a historical standard of proof.
Historians used to believe that Pilate didn't exist, because he was not mentioned outside the Bible. Then they found two mentions of him and now they accept his existence. But Jesus mythers want to see birth certificate, driver's license appearance on the 6:00 news and so on. There doesn't have to be that much material to demonstrate Jesus existence. Two good reasonable mentions by historians or sources who were in an authoritative position or in a position to know should do it. There are many more than two references. Let's go with three.
(1) The Gospels Themselves: all 34 of them.
The Mythers just refuse to the accept the Gospels at any price, but that is not the standard used by historians or scholars. The former darling of the atheists, John Dominick Crosson hinsts that Doherty doesn't know much and states explicitly that he acceptes Jesus as historical becasue he is testified to in the Gospels.
If I understand what Earl Doherty is arguing, Neil, it is that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as an historical person, or, at least that historians, like myself, presume that he did and act on that fatally flawed presumption.
I am not sure, as I said earlier, that one can persuade people that Jesus did exist as long as they are ready to explain the entire phenomenon of historical Jesus and earliest Christianity either as an evil trick or a holy parable. I had a friend in Ireland who did not believe that Americans had landed on the moon but that they had created the entire thing to bolster their cold-war image against the communists. I got nowhere with him. So I am not at all certain that I can prove that the historical Jesus existed against such an hypothesis and probably, to be honest, I am not even interested in trying.
It was, however, that hypothesis taken not as a settled conclusion, but as a simple question that was behind the first pages of BofC when I mentioned Josephus and Tacitus. I do not think that either of them checked out Jewish or Roman archival materials about Jesus. I think they were expressing the general public knowledge that "everyone" had about this weird group called Christians and their weird founder called Christ. The existence, not just of Christian materials, but of those other non-Christian sources, is enough to convince me that we are dealing with an historical individual. Furthermore, in all the many ways that opponents criticized earliest Christianity, nobody ever suggested that it was all made up. That in general, is quite enough for me.
There was one other point where I think Earl Doherty simply misstated what I did. In BofC, after the initial sections on materials and methods (1-235), I spent about equal time in Galilee (237-406) , or at least to the north, and in Jerusalem with pre-Pauline materials (407-573). I agree that if we had a totally different and irreconcilable vision/program between Paul and Q (just to take an example), it would require some very good explaining. Part of what I was doing, for example, in talking about the Common Meal Tradition was showing how even such utterly distinct eucharistic scenarios as Didache 9-10 and I Cor 11-12 have rather fascinating common elements behind and between them. It is a very different thing, in summary, for Paul to say that he is not interested in the historical Jesus (Jesus in the flesh) than to say that "no Galilee and no historical Jesus lie behind Paul."M
Crosson's Asnwer:I am not certain, Neil, that I have much to add to my previous post. I do not claim "ideological immunity" against the possibility that the historical Jesus never existed. That such a person existed is an historical conclusion for me, and neither a dogmatic postulate nor a theological presupposition. My very general arguments are: (1) that existence is given in Christian, pagan, and Jewish sources; (2) it is never negated by even the most hostile critics of early Christianity (Jesus is a bastard and a fool but never a myth or a fiction!); (3) there are no historical parallels that I know of from that time and period that help me understand such a total creation. There is, however, a fourth point that I touched on in BofC 403-406. It is crucially important for me that Jesus sent out companions and told them to do exactly what he was doing (not in his name, but as part of the Kingdom of God). The most basic continuity that I see between Jesus and those companions was, as I put it, not in mnemonics, but in mimetics. In other words, they were imitating his lifestyle and not just remembering his words. I find that emphasized in the Q Gospel’s indictment of those who talk, but do not do, and in the Didache’s emphasis on the ways (tropoi) of the Lord (not just words/logoi). When, therefore, I look at a phrase such as "blessed are the destitute," and am quite willing to argue that it comes from the historical Jesus, I am always at least as sure that it represents the accurate summary of an attitude as the accurate recall of a saying. For analogy: If Gandhi had developed a large movement after his death of people who are living in non-violent resistance to oppression, and one of them cited an aphorism of Gandhi, namely "if you do not stand on a small bug, why would you stand on a Big Bug," I would be more secure on the continuity in lifestyle than in memory and could work on that as basis.
It doesn't matter that these were not the eye witnesses the Gospels were named after. The whole community was witness to Jesus existence.
It's not just the canonicals. There are 34 Gospels that are known are thought to exist, taking into account, fragments, theories such as Q and so forth. Many of them are dated to the first century. They all depict Jesus as flesh and blood. Not one of the early one's depicts him in any other way. All the lost Gospels take him to be a man in history.
Story by Kay Albright, (785) 864-8858
University Relations, the public relations office for the University of Kansas Lawrence campus. Copyright 1997
LAWRENCE - Fragments of a fourth-century Egyptian manuscript contain a lost gospel dating from the first or second century, according to Paul Mirecki, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas.
Mirecki discovered the manuscript in the vast holdings of Berlin's Egyptian Museums in 1991. The book contains a rare "dialogue gospel" with conversations between Jesus and his disciples, shedding light on the origins of early Judaisms and Christianities.
The lost gospel, whose original title has not survived, has similarities to the Gospel of John and the most famous lost gospel, the gospel of Thomas, which was discovered in Egypt in 1945.
The newly discovered gospel is written in Coptic, the ancient Egyptian language using Greek letters. Mirecki said the gospel was probably the product of a Christian minority group called Gnostics, or "knowers."
Mirecki said the discussion between Jesus and his disciples probably takes place after the resurrection, since the text is in the same literary genre as other post-resurrection dialogues, though the condition of the manuscript makes the time element difficult to determine.
"This lost gospel presents us with more primary evidence that the origins of early Christianity were far more diverse than medieval church historians would tell us," Mirecki said. "Early orthodox histories denigrated and then banished from political memory the existence of these peaceful people and their sacred texts, of which this gospel is one."
Mirecki is editing the manuscript with Charles Hedrick, professor of religious studies at Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield. Both men independently studied the manuscript while working on similar projects in Berlin.
A chance encounter at a professional convention in 1995 in Philadelphia made both men realize that they were working on the same project. They decided to collaborate, and their book will be published this summer by Brill Publishers in the Netherlands.
The calfskin manuscript is damaged, and only 15 pages remain. Mirecki said it was probably the victim of an orthodox book burning in about the fifth century.
The 34 Gospels
Bible Review, June 2002: 20-31; 46-47
Charles W. Hendrick, professor who discovered the lost Gospel of the Savior tells us
Mirecki and I are not the first scholars to find a new ancient gospel. In fact scholars now have copies of 19 gospels (either complete, in fragments or in quotations), written in the first and second centuries A.D— nine of which were discovered in the 20th century. Two more are preserved, in part, in other andent writings, and we know the names of several others, but do not have copies of them. Clearly, Luke was not exaggerating when he wrote in his opening verse: "Many undertook to compile narratives [aboutJesus]" (Luke 1:1). Every one of these gospels was deemed true and sacred by at least some early Christians
These Gospels demonstrate a great diversity among the early chruch, the diminish the claims of an orthodox purity. On the other hand, they tell us more about the historical Jesus as well. One thing they all have in common is to that they show Jesus as a historical figure, working in public and conducting his teachings before people, not as a spirit being devoid of human life.Hendrick says,"Gospels-whether canonical or not- are collections of anecdotes from Jesus' public career."
Many of these lost Gospels pre date the canonical gospels, which puts them prior to AD 60 for Mark:
The Gospel of the Saviour, too. fits this description. Contrary' to popular opinion, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not included m the canon simply because they were the earliest gospels or because they were eyewitness accounts. Some non canonical gospels are dated roughly to the same period, and the canonical gospels and other early Christian accounts appear to rely on earlier reports. Thus, as far as the physical evidence is concerned, the canonical gospels do not take precedence over the noncanonical gospels. The fragments of John, Thomas and theEgerton Gospel share the distinction of being the earliest extant pieces of Christian writing known. And although the existing manuscript evidence for Thomas dates to the mid-second century, the scholars who first published the Greek fragments held open the possibility that it was actually composed in the first century, which would put it around the time John was composed.
Using the science of Textual criticism http://www.doxa.ws/Bible/Gospel_behind2.htmlHelmutt Koestler demonstrates that the Gospel material was written and circulated in written form as early as mid century, and this includes the story of the empty tomb. Many sources can be shown to per date Mark. The Gospel material was circulating in many forms prior to its final closure in the form of the four that we know as canonical. There was Thomas, Peter, the saying source Paul used, Q, Pre Mark non Q and so on. see my pages on: Gospel Behind the Gospels (2 pages). What all of this means is the figure of Jesus as flesh and blood human was circulating from a verity of sources, not all of them acceptable to Orthodoxy as early as the middle of the first century. As far back as that period Jesus is a flesh and blood man in history.
(2) The Talmud
Talmudic Evidence is hard to sift through.
Jews self censored the Talmud to remove mentions of Jesus, thus modern Jews deny that it is talking about him, while ancient rabbis used examples supposedly speaking of him for centuries. But what cannot be denied is that the Talmud gives evidence of Christians believing in Jesus as a flesh and blood rabbi from the late first century, which contradicts the Jesus myth theory.
There is a history of the Talmud
The Babylonian Talmud
translated by MICHAEL L. RODKINSON
Book 10 (Vols. I and II)
The History of the Talmud
from Vol I chapter II
Thus the study of the Talmud flourished after the destruction of the Temple, although beset with great difficulties and desperate struggles. All his days, R. Johanan b. Zakkai was obliged to dispute with Sadducees and Bathueians and, no doubt, with the Messiahists also; for although these last were Pharisees, they differed in many points from the teaching of the Talmud after their master, Jesus, had broken with the Pharisees
This clearly indicates that Jesus was followed by Christians who understood him as a Rabbi in the late first century, but the Jesus myth theory says that it was only in the second century that began to put a concrete history to Jesus. Note this history indicates that they had a history about him as they said he had been a pharisee.
The index indicates that this statement is from the time covering the late first century.
Index to the wrok
The Talmud is Rabbinical commentaries that begin about the second century but they draw upon even older material. some parts of the Jerusalem Talmud go back to the frist century and even before:
Michael L Rodkinson
"History of Talmud"
"The Talmud is a combination of Mishna and Gemara, the latter is a collection of Mishnayoth, Tosephtas, Mechilta, Siphra, Siphre and Boraithas, all of these, interpreted and discussed by the Amoraim, Saboraim, and also Gaonim at a later period. "The Mishna is the authorized codification of the oral or unwritten law, which on the basis of the written law contained in Pentateuch, developed during the second Temple, and down to the end of the second century of the common era." The author of which was R. Jehuda, the prince named "Rabbi" (flourishing toward the end of the second century), taking the unfinished work of R. Akiba and R. Meir as basis."
It seems pretty obvious that the Talmud is discussing Jesus, at least in some enstances. A summary of what the most liley passages say about theone I take to be Jesus of Nazerath makes this clear:
a Summary of what is said about the charactors who seem go by these names:
*He was born under unusual circumstances, leading some rabbis to address him as ben Pandira and " a bastard of an adulteress."
*mother Mary was Heli's daughter.
*was crucified on the eve of Passover.
* made himself alive by the name of God.
* was a son of a woman. (cf. Galatians 4:4)
* claimed to be God, the son of God, the son of man.
* ascended and claimed that he would return again.
* was near to the kingdom and near to kingship.
* had at least five disciples.
* performed miracles, i.e. practiced "sorcery".
* name has healing power.
* teaching impressed one rabbi.
The Talmud essentially affirms the New Testament teaching on the life and person of Jesus Christ, God's unique Son and Savior of the world.
Before going into that we need to understand what we are looking for. The Talmudic writters don't say "O Jesus of Nazerath is who we are talking about." The counch things in langaue form their world is very different to anything modern Christian would expect to find. they have many nicknames for Jesus, both as derogatory and as part of the self censering. soem of these can be translated as "may his name be blotted out" Others are of doubtful origin, but it is asserted strongly by Rabbis over the centuries that they are Talking about Jesus.Some of htese names include:
The pagan detractor of Christianity,Celsus, demonstrates a connection to the material of the Talmud, indicating that that material about Jesus was around in a least the second century. Since Jewish sources would not have been available to Celsus it seems reasonable to assume that this information had been floating around for some time, and easier to obtain. Therefore, we can at least went back to the early second, late first century.
Origin quoting Celsus: Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god."
So we estabilsh:
(1) Mary was poor and worked with her hands
(2) husband was a carpenter
(3)Mary committed adultery with Roman soldier named Panthera. (where have we heard this before?)
(4) Jesus as bastard
(5) driven to Egypt where Jesus leanred magic.
All of these points are made in the Talmudic passages. This can be seen both above and on the next page. The use of the name Panthera is a dead give away. Clearly Celsus got this info from the Talmud. Christians never used the name Panthera. He could only have gotten it form the Talmud and these are very charges the Talmudists made.
Here is a Mishna passage, which makes most of the points. Being from the Mishna it would draw upon first century material:
If one writes on his flesh, he is culpable; He who scratches a mark on his flesh. He who scratches a mark on his flesh, [etc.] It was taught, R. Eliezar said to the sages: But did not Ben Stada bring forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches [in the form of charms] upon his flesh? He was a fool, answered they, proof cannot be adduced from fools. [Was he then the son of Stada: surely he was the son of Pandira? - Said R. Hisda: The husband was Stada, the paramour was Pandira. But the husband was Pappos b. Judah? - his mother was Stada. But his mother was Miriam the hairdresser? - It is as we said in Pumbeditha: This is one has been unfaithful to (lit., 'turned away from'- satath da) her husband.](Shabbath 104b)
In fact Origin himself almost hints at special knowledge of Jesus "true" origins, what would that knowledge be? Christian knowledge would be positive and not contain many of the points, such as Mary being a spinner or hair dresser. No Christians ever said that. It was suspect for a woman to work. That's an insult to her.
The following quotes are taken from Celsus On the True Doctrine, translated by R. Joseph Hoffman, Oxford University Press, 1987:
"Let us imagine what a Jew- let alone a philosopher- might say to Jesus: 'Is it not true, good sir, that you fabricated the story of your birth from a virgin to quiet rumourss about the true and insavoury circumstances of your origins? Is it not the case that far from being born in the royal David's city of bethlehem, you were born in a poor country town, and of a woman who earned her living by spinning? Is it not the case that when her deceit was uncovered, to wit, that she was pregnant by a roman soldier called Panthera she was driven away by her husband- the carpenter- and convicted of adultery?" (57).
why a Jew? or Philospher? Celsus was obviously reading the Jewish sources. This is one of the charges made in the Talmud.
Here he claims to have secret knowledge that Christians don't have:
"I could continue along these lines, suggesting a good deal about the affairs of Jesus' life that does not appear in your own records. Indeed, what I know to be the case and what the disciples tell are two very different stories... [for example] the nonsensical idea that Jesus foresaw everything that was to happen to him (an obvious attempt to conceal the humiliating facts)." (62).
where is that from? It has to be the Talmud, or sources commonly drawn upon by the Talmud.
But how does this prove it was Jesus? Celsus sure thought it was. Apparently his Jewish contacts told him this is the straight scoop on Jesus' life. We see that everywhere in the Talmud Jesus is talked about as a living person,and connections are made to his family and genealogy.
R. Shimeaon ben 'Azzai said: I found a genealogical roll in Jerusalem wherein was recorded, "Such-an-one is a bastard of an adulteress." McDowell and Wilson state, on the authority of Joseph Klausner, that the phrase such-an-one "is used for Jesus in the Ammoraic period (i.e., fifth century period)." (McDowell & Wilson, p. 69)
According to the Jewish Tractate of Talmud, the Chagigah a certain person had a dream in which he saw the punishment of the damned. In the dream, "He saw Mary the daughter of Heli amongst the shades..." (John Lightfoot, Commentary On the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica [Oxford University Press, 1859; with a second printing from Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1995], vol. 1, p. v; vol. 3, p.55)
Celsus pushes the knowledge back to late second century, but due to the access for Rabbinical writings it must have been around for some time before that. The Jews were very consicous of geneologies and family connections. why wouldthey not pick up on the fact that Jesus had none and no one had ever seen him personaly, if indeed that was the case?
(3) Josephus' "brother" of James passage.
Despite hoards of evidence, skeptics have managed to convence themselves that the Testimonium Flavianum is fabricated (here's proof that it isn't). The way atheists on the net work is, if certain websites say something is the csae, it is the case and to deny it is so stupid one darn attempt the denial. If the IIB said grass is pink and grows down instead of up, there's just another reason to assume Christians are stupid! Therefore, they treat the TF's alleged fabrication as an absolute fact and if one doesn't go along with it one is just denying something so obvious he might as well deny that life is real. In a sort of guilt by association move they have managed to convence themselves that since the TF is fabed then it only follows that the brother passage must be too.But in point of fact there are no scholarly arguments for this, the same kind of evidence for that does not exist. There is no good reason to assume that the brotehr passage is not a frank and authentic historical reference to Jesus' existence:
But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.(Jospheus "brother of James passage")
Lacking any real evidence of fabrication, atheists just assume it by association but I've seen two arguments which, as my old sainted granny would say, "take the cake!" The first one is a frank denial that it's the same guy! This is rich, there was another James with another brother named Jesus who just happened to also be thought of as the Messaih! The other argument is more particle but shows a real ignorance of historical method: "it was written several years after his death." That's the demand for a report from the 6:00 news again. The fact of the matter is, this constitutes a valid and authentic historical reference from outside the new testament. If we treat those 34 lost Gospels as one source, this makes three reference. Its' actually a mot more than that because we 34 lost Gospels, the four canonicals, Talmudic references and Celsus, Jospheus brother passage and we are not even counting Papias and Polycarp who appeal to eye witness testimony.
The hilarious nature of the charge that there's a different James and a different Jesus just staggers the imagination. Think about it. We are supposed to believe that not only was there another guy named Jesus was had a brother named James, who was head of Jerusalem church and was taken to be Messiah, but somehow that Jesus, who apparently was a historical guy, didn't ground the Jesus myth in a concrete history, some how the fictional Jesus and the real Jesus were kept separate until the second century when the fictional Jesus could be given a real background, which included James his bother as head of the church stoned in the same circumstances of which Josephus speaks. Of course the skeptics could say well this Josephus James taken to be the real one and his brother Jesus was confused with the mythological Jesus and so that gave him a concrete history earlier than we thought. But then what's the difference in that a real historical Jesus? Any way you look at it it's stupid! It's all going come down to saying "there was a real guy but we don't know much about him." However, if they say that, the Jesus myth is gone. Its' not a mythology anymore, its' a real guy whose history is kind of shadowy and we have to dig to learn more about him. I predict that will not satisfy the mythers.
Not only do they muliply Jameses and Jesus's but also Peter's and Paul's. Now they deny that Paul was a real guy. So we have a myth spreading the gospel of another myth. Nothing short of absurd. Everything time anything counts against their view they try to same the paradigm by violating Occam's razor and Multiply Jesus and his side kicks beyond necessity.
The obvious simple logical solution is just to admit there was a guy named Jesus who was some kind of Rabbi, probably taken to be Messiah by some set of groupies, and now we can happily blog away arguing about how much we really know about him!