Thursday, November 06, 2008

Jesus Mythers Fail to Meet Burden of Proof Part II

still the list of things from 1st century that don't mention Jesus. this is a comparison of the things that do and do not mention him to show how little material form the century survives and of that comparatively little doesn't mention him.

Of all these writers, only Seneca may have conceivably had reason to refer to Jesus. But considering his personal troubles with Nero, it is doubtful that he would have had the interest or the time to do any work on the subject.

* From the 70s and 80s A.D., we have some poems and epigrams by Martial, and works by Tacitus (a minor work on oratory) and Josephus (Against Apion, Wars of the Jews). None of these would have offered occasion to mention Jesus.

* From the 90s, we have a poetic work by Statius; twelve books by Quintillian on oratory; Tacitus' biography of his father-in-law Agricola, and his work on Germany. [Blaik.MM, 13-16]

"To this Meier adds [ibid., 23] that in general, knowledge of the vast majority of ancient peoples is "simply not accessible to us today by historical research and never will be." It is just as was said in his earlier comment on Alexander the Great: What we know of most ancient people as individuals could fit on just a few pieces of paper. Thus it is misguided for the skeptic to complain that we know so little about the historical Jesus, and have so little recorded about Him in ancient pagan sources. Compared to most ancient people, we know quite a lot about Jesus, and have quite a lot recorded about Him!"

So there just aren't that many overall sources to go by in the first palce. But why wouldn't more of Jesus' contempoaries write about him?

3) Why Jesus wouldn't be mentioned more than he is.

Jp Holding:Tekton apologetics.

We turn to John P. Meier [Meie.MarJ, 7-9] and Murray Harris [Harr.3Cruc, 24-27] for several reasons on this point:

a. Roman Historians were only concerned with issues that directly effected them where they lived, or pertained to the fortunes of the empire. He didn't address the Roman Senate, worte no treatesies, histories, poems or palys, never travaled outside of Palestine, and did not change the socio-economic situation in Paltestine. He was a strictly local affair, of regional importance only, in his own lifetime.

Harris adds that "Roman writers could hardly be expected to have foreseen the subsequent influence of Christianity on the Roman Empire and therefore to have carefully documented" Christian origins. How were they to know that this minor Nazarene prophet would cause such a fuss?"

Jesus and History

On Line Electronic books

Edward C. Wharton

From Pagan Sources

"Palestine of the first century has been referred to as an unimportant frontier province in the Roman Empire. Those provincial governors assigned to that region of the world were often thought to have received hardship posts. Too, those who wrote the history of Rome were in the upper strata of Roman society and usually had a personal dislike of Orientals, disapproved of their religions and looked upon their superstitions as very un-Roman. [Micahel Green , Runaway World, Inter-Varsity Press, p. 12.] This partially accounts for the little trickles of information that comes from their pens about the Christian religion. They wrote about it only as it forced its way into the mainstream of their view. Yet what they did write is proof positive that Jesus Christ was both a real person and that he had made such an impact upon society that the Roman world found it increasingly difficult to disregard him."

b. Jesus was not a big enough threat to the Romans He was enough of a threat to warrent his exicution, but there had been many other Messianich "pretenders" who warrented harher treatment. The Romans never had to call out troops to quell a revolt led by Jesus or his followers.

c. His death as a criminal made him even more marginal, and as one of many criminals exicuted by Rome during their stay in Palestine he was unremarkable.

d. He was itinerant

J.P. Holding:

"Jesus marginalized himself by being occupied as an itinerant preacher. Of course, there was no Palestine News Network, and even if there had been one, there were no televisions to broadcast it. Jesus never used the established "news organs" of the day to spread His message. He travelled about the countryside, avoiding for the most part (and with the exception of Jerusalem) the major urban centers of the day. How would we regard someone who preached only in sites like, say, Hahira, Georgia?"

e. He was a nerdowell.

Holding agin: "Jesus lived an offensive lifestyle and alienated many people. He associated with the despised and rejected: Tax collectors, prostitutes, and the band of fishermen He had as disciples."

f. He was unimportant, poor, migrant, in an empire the captial of which was very far away, ran by rich tyrannts and he could do nothing to imporve their power. Why should they have an interest in him?

g. Not concerned with Roman gods.

Jesus' bore a message of eschatological and spiritual significance about an obscure foreign God most Romans knew little about. They had no particular reason to see him as anything other than a strictly regional private matter concerning a religion that seemed barbaric and about which they had no interest.

h. No evening News.

News travaled slowly, the distances were great. They had no mass communications. It took months for Rome to learn of events in Palestine, and most of the events there were of little interest to them. Moreover, his work only lasted three years. By the time he was begining to reach the height of his fame in Jerusalem word of his very existence might just be reaching Rome, where it would have been gretaed coldly with no real interest anyway. Than suddenly he was gone, exicuted as a torulbe maker and good ridence! Reports of his resurrection would not flood Rome as great astounding news, other supernatural claims were made all the time from all parts of the world, including Rome itself, so who would believe or care about this one?

i. One of many wonder workers.

There were actually quite a few "wonder workers" and Messianic claimants in Jesus' time. In fact he may have seen one himself, a man called "The Egyptian" who led a revolt in Jesus' childhood, in The Galillee, but his followered were slaughtered and the Egyptian disappeared. Why should the Romans Take notice of just one more. (Now many will argue well see Jesus was just one more of these guys, but for an answer on that see "How do I know that Jesus is the Son of God?")

Second, the fact that later Christians (and modern Christians) do refer to the story constantly despite the fact that it is well-known also undermines the argument. References in everyday life to Jesus permeate our culture and that wasn't the same then, but my point is that a "common knowledge" of an event does not preclude the reference to that event. One does not abstain from referencing an event because it is known commonly, but the other way around: It is referenced because it is known.

(1) we have mass media sweet heart. they did not. why is it so hard fo you guys to understand what that means in terms of common knowledge

(2) judging their culture by ours. you can't second guess how an ancient culture would handle narratives by the way we do it.

(3) I think the uneven and combined development is a better answer anyway than the "they knew the story" argument.

I think I started that. I don't' mean to take credit for it and if its' used by someone like Craig or something I don't know I'm not saying I know for a fact. I know I argued against Carrier years ago because I thought of it myself. So assume I thought of it and then other apologists started using it. But it's really taken out of context. It doesn't really pertain to the overall lack of mention of such details. it really pertains just the way Paul presents his material in letters like the one to the Romans.

I think the better answer is that the canonical gospels had to have time to circulate. If you accept 70-90 as the dates then it would take 20 years (rule of thumb) to get up to the north and circulate in Rome.

Johanine community was very closed in (see 1 John)> So they didn't just openly mix with the Pauline community at least until the death of both Paul and John.

So maybe the rationalization camp has it turned around. Maybe Paul does not reference details about Jesus in his letters because others do not know the details. But then, wouldn't this be the point of his mission? To relate the details, to tell the story?

Paul himself would not know the material in the way its perstented. He tells us stuff he leanred from the Jerusalem church about Jesus life, about the resurrection.who did he meet? He met James. What does he say learned? that Chrsit appeared first to James. So James didn't tell him about the women, he told him about himself. He assumed got it first because it was good for his position to tell it that way.

you might guess I am not a big fan of James. Maybe its because I have a brother named James and he's a jerk. But I see James as an opportunist. That's just a side bar.

This is usually argued by another rationalization: Paul was only concerned about the Crucifixion and the Resurrection so just didnt' bother with the story. But isn't, just as it is for modern Christians, the story so powerful and compelling that it is hard to imagine a dedicated apostle ignoring it? No. Once again, the easier explanation for Paul's silence on this subject is that he didn't know these stories. Given his familiarity with actual supposed players in the story, I think it is doubtful that he wouldn't know the story. So the fact that he doesn't talk about the story when he would have known it suggests strongly that he didn't know because it did not yet exist.
I think that's a half truth. Paul would have been concerneed with his petigree and apparenly he was satisfied of it because he relfects upon it in Roamns 1:3 that he had a flesh and blood linage and its' th right one for the Messiah.

Paul would not have been concerned with a lot of things we take for granted as basic to the story, like being Nazareth or his mother, or women at the tomb. But he would have been concerned with things pertaining to this messianic credentials.

No. All of this underscores the basic fact that the story of the life of Jesus does not emerge until and coalesce around a set of "facts" until the second century, after the emergence of the Gospel of Mark. The fact that the New Testament writings as Bultmann observes present the occurrence of Chrst in a mythological framework is due to the actual lack of any "actual event" as the basis for the story. The legendary christ is based on the mythical Christ, not on a real person (though there may have been inspirations lying in the memory of the final compiler the Mark - 16:9 on version).

that does not mean it wasn't circulating, we know it was and this is explained by the argument I just made, the argument that the Gospels didn't circular in the north of the Mediterranean until around the 90s and latter. Before that knowledge of it was more fragmentary. Even Paul's knwoledge of Jesus' actual life was fragmentary.

but he knew he existed! He doesn't have to know that much to know that!

One more thing before I go: the issue of timeline. One problem can be that if Mark was written in the 70s it might be impossible to think people would except that the story happened as recently as the 30's. There would be people around (though few, I'd say) who could say: "Hey, I don't remember that! I was there in the Temple that day!" Or something to that effect. I don't think this is a particularly powerful argument. Even in modern times with modern methods of documenting events, it is very difficult to claim that some event did not happen. The few who might raise such objections would be swept aside. Believers can believe whatever they want (Look at how people cling to the persistent myth that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks!). Those who didn't believe may have had no recourse to dispute it or, most likely, didn't hear the story in 70's anyway since the location of the advent of Mark is assuredly not Jerusalem (Probably Alexandria or Syria). This is no problem.

that date is pushed back to just 18 years latter (ad 50) by the stuff Koester says about the passion narrative and PMR>

the idea that "hey I don't remember him" would certainly have been the cult would not have grown in Jerusalem nearly as fast as it did.

As far as timelines go, the most difficult timeline to reconcile is not the mythicist case, but the "Jesus to Christ" case (and I am not talking about Metacrock's historical "Jesus of Nazareth" who is also Christ Jesus, Lord and Savior, ascendant via worm holes to heaven). I don't have time to deal with this but just consider how rapidly a man Jesus would have to be claimed as a God, not a god in the sense of Caesar, the deification of whom was for political reasons, but THE God whom people saw perform miracles and such. Even a few short years later. I think it is difficult for the "Jesus to Christ" (who like Metacrock are really equivcating on the concept of the Historical Jesus) to justify this without allowing for outright fabrication on the part of Jesus followers.

that's some crazy logic you got there. you are so backwards to the normal way of thinking. What's obvious is myths take time, truth is instant. that's just nuts to think the would need time to develop the myth so that proves it was a myth? that's crazy?

Your logic really baffles me there.

I mean it is true that the followers of Charles Manson too claimed he performed miracles, but at least we can blame that one on the pervasive use of hallucinogenic drugs withint their cult, but few claim this for theJesus cult (some do, though, and, in fact, you can find it asserted as an axiomatic truth at ritualistic gatherings known as "4-20" and "Burning Man" and whatnot--along with the "truth" that the entire US government was founded as a conspiracy against the saving powers of the devil weed marijuana).

what now? That makes no sense at all. I really can't figure what you think you are saying. Jesus was proclaimed rizen Lord and savior no latter than the middle of the century. It woul take decades or even centruies for a standard codified myth to take shape. One of my argument arugments for hsitoricity is that there is only one story.

there are not other versions of the Jesus story. no version where he has a differnt mother, from a different town, died in a different way. Clearly the same story was written in stone from the beginning.

that could only be true if it was based upon fact because the group spread so rapidly and had no controls after a certain point. yet even the gnostic heretics didn't change the basic details like who his mother was and how he died.

Only one form of control would keep all that in place. that the story was known ealry and set in stone as fact.


No comments: