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(The Raw Story)   Religious scholar Reza Aslan tells the world Megyn Kelly was only half right- Jesus is not white, but Christ is. Well, that clears that up   (rawstory.com ) divider line 297
    More: Followup, Reza Aslan, Megyn Kelly, Jesus Christ, theologies, teachings of Jesus, Hindu deities  
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3994 clicks; posted to Politics » on 13 Dec 2013 at 6:24 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-12-14 03:30:14 AM  

The Name: The fact that Jesus and Mithras share a birthday doesn't mean that Jesus was fictional, j


Jesus was absolutely positively not born in December. You wouldn't find shepherds with their flocks in the fields in December in that part of the world. He was born quite possibly in the spring or possibly late summer.

Jim_Callahan: not one dude telling a story


The Gospels are the words of four distinct authors, one of whom, the author of Luke, says right up front he's writing at someone else's request ie he's writing a commissioned work. Also there's a particular trait the Gospels don't share with fictional tales, an utter lack of biographical detail. In fictional tales you find out all sorts of things about the main characters. With the Gospels, well why bother with details when anyone can go down the street and hear them from someone? Also it's come to pass that a lot of what people say about Jesus isn't even in the Gospels, like that he grew up dirt poor. Indeed if Luke is right, then he grew up far from poor.
 
2013-12-14 03:36:54 AM  

WhyteRaven74: The Name: The fact that Jesus and Mithras share a birthday doesn't mean that Jesus was fictional, j

Jesus was absolutely positively not born in December. You wouldn't find shepherds with their flocks in the fields in December in that part of the world. He was born quite possibly in the spring or possibly late summer.


Yeah, that was my point.  Not born in December, but made to have been born in December to fit with the Mithras myth.  Again, not proof that he didn't exist.
 
2013-12-14 03:37:58 AM  

Ishkur: and all of them were off by some degrees owing to the unsophisticated measuring skills of the time period.


The ancients were far better at making calendars then many people realize. The Egyptians worked out a solar year is 365 days, over 4 thousand years ago. The Persians had a calendar that was as accurate as anything we have. It doesn't actually take much to make a reliable calender. Just watch the moon and stars or watch the shadows the sun casts when it's at its high point each day and watch where it rises and sets on the horizon. And if you really want to nail things down, do both. Though which type of calendar, solar or lunar, was preferred or most used depended on what people did. Since a solar calendar was far better suited to working out when the Nile would flood, the Egyptians ran with it.
 
2013-12-14 03:51:19 AM  

The Name: r, but made to have been born in December to fit with the Mithras myth.


Well there's that, plus the Romans eventually had Sol Invictus on December 25th, which would work just as well for shifting Jesus' birthday. The real fun is working out just when and why his birthday was shifted. The oldest writing we have of possible birth dates for Jesus' birthday, mucks things up by listing all of the ones that were considered at the time, roughly 200 CE. December 25 is not among the dates offered it should be noted. The first concrete record listing December 25th is well over a century later.
 
2013-12-14 03:57:19 AM  

Hobodeluxe: my point was the number of similarities in the two stories.


There are none. What you posted was bullshiat.

First, you must distinguish whether you are speaking of the Persian Mithras in Zoroastrianism or the Roman Mithras (more Greek, really) of the Mithraic mysteries. The second is just a western bastardization of the former, but it's important to make the distinction that they almost refer to two separate people involved in two separate religions.

The Persian Mithras has nothing to do with Jesus. Was Jesus born from a rock? Did Jesus slaughter a bull? Did Jesus share banquets with other gods? Did Jesus always wear a Phrygian cap? Did Jesus have the head of a lion and was entwined by a serpent with the snake's head resting on the lion's head, and did he have four wings (that's right: Mithras wasn't even farking human)? Did Jesus always carry two keys and have a scepter in his hand? Did Jesus restrict membership into his esoteric cult to men only?

The Persian festival of natalis Invicti, held on 25 December, was a general festival of the Sun, and was by no means specifically referring to Mithras at all. People did not worship Mithras on that day. The Mithraic Mysteries (Roman) had no public ceremonies at all that can be verified. In the Zoroastrian calendar, the sixteenth day of the month and the seventh month of the year are dedicated to Mithra.

There's not a whole lot we know or understand about Mithraism because most of it was run like a secret society, like gnosticism. But the one glaring feature of Mithras worship, and this is shown everywhere there is evidence of it, is Mithras wrestling with and defeating a bull. There are statues everywhere about it and Roman writers talk a lot about it. This had a profound effect on Anatolian Greeks who concocted the myth of Perseus fighting the Minotaur in Crete (who were descended from the Minoan pre-Hellenistic civilization who literally invented the sport of bull leaping and bull fighting).

None of this has anything to do with Jesus or Christianity. A bull doesn't factor anywhere in Christian myth and lore. And when Christianity became the dominant power in the Empire, it saw all rival religions as enemies, including Arianism, Gnosticism, and yes, even Mithraism, and wiped them out in the 4th and 5th centuries.

There's more, but... oh, never mind. I'm tired. I'm going to bed.
 
2013-12-14 03:58:07 AM  

WhyteRaven74: The Name: r, but made to have been born in December to fit with the Mithras myth.

Well there's that, plus the Romans eventually had Sol Invictus on December 25th, which would work just as well for shifting Jesus' birthday. The real fun is working out just when and why his birthday was shifted. The oldest writing we have of possible birth dates for Jesus' birthday, mucks things up by listing all of the ones that were considered at the time, roughly 200 CE. December 25 is not among the dates offered it should be noted. The first concrete record listing December 25th is well over a century later.


Never heard that before, but I believe it.  At the end of the day, though, I don't think it's a huge deal.  The ancients didn't care much about figuring out a person's exact day of birth or death, and they were happy to put the ceremonial commemoration on any day of the calendar that was free.  As precise as they were about their astronomical observations, they were really easy-going about every other calendrical matter.
 
2013-12-14 03:59:49 AM  

WhyteRaven74: The ancients were far better at making calendars then many people realize. The Egyptians worked out a solar year is 365 days, over 4 thousand years ago. The Persians had a calendar that was as accurate as anything we have. It doesn't actually take much to make a reliable calender. Just watch the moon and stars or watch the shadows the sun casts when it's at its high point each day and watch where it rises and sets on the horizon. And if you really want to nail things down, do both. Though which type of calendar, solar or lunar, was preferred or most used depended on what people did. Since a solar calendar was far better suited to working out when the Nile would flood, the Egyptians ran with it.


Right, so if they're all so awesomely accurate at measuring the Solstice, why did they celebrate it on December 25 which was wrong?
 
2013-12-14 04:06:12 AM  

Ishkur: Right, so if they're all so awesomely accurate at measuring the Solstice, why did they celebrate it on December 25 which was wrong?


Because that was the date for which the ceremony had been established from time immemorial.  The poebl celebrated on that day, and the astrologers marked a different day as the actual solstice.  And somehow the sky didn't fall.
 
2013-12-14 04:06:31 AM  

The Name: NobleHam: Palestinians often look as white as any Mediterranean people. Close enough for me. The problem is that "white" is very broad.

No, the problem is that "white" is a purely (post-)colonial, modern category.  Before about 1600, nobody would have been called "white."  They would have been called a Spaniard, an Englishman, a Turk, a Saracen, a Roman, an Ethiopian, an Italian, an Ottoman, etc., etc., etc. . . . but never "white."  It's a designation that doesn't make any sense whatsoever in a first-century context.


Yeah. That's my point. Back then no one would have been called white, now it's a category with a vague and broad definition which encompasses Nords, Slavs, Gauls and Mediterraneans. Back then, no one would have been called black or Asian either. Saying whether Santa or Jesus is white relies on very recent definitions of ethnicity, and if we're going to deal with those definitions, I'd say you either have to include Santa and Jesus as white, or exclude most Italians, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and Turkish.
 
2013-12-14 04:27:06 AM  
i1301.photobucket.comSorry I'm late.
Seasonal frivolities, etc. etc.
 
2013-12-14 04:44:46 AM  

clowncar on fire: Believable.  Distinct possibility that he may have had dark red (auburn?) hair as well.  Persians had a fair amount of red hair back in the day and are totally obsessed with it nowadays.  Blue eyes? Doubt it.
We keep saying typical Jew-type ignoring the fact that the Jews believe that Christ has yet to walk the face of the earth.  Saw some place that Christ (Isa) may have fallen in lineage as being one of the last prophets of Muslim faith.  Word is he was a minor player but seemed to have gained a small following for believing in peaceful settlement and criticism of the fatwa.


If there was indeed a historical Jesus, why would you think he would be Persian?
 
2013-12-14 04:54:10 AM  

Ishkur: why did they celebrate it on December 25 which was wrong?


They celebrated it on December 25th according to the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar, which is what we use.
 
2013-12-14 04:59:10 AM  

The Name: Never heard that before, but I believe it.


The early document listing the various dates was written by Clement of Alexandria round about 200 CE.
 
2013-12-14 05:01:18 AM  

Ishkur: Hobodeluxe: you do know that they had calendars and that they can correlate the approximate date by the solstice right? a day was still a day.

Sure, but there's no confirmation that either of them did any of that -- different cultures calculated solstices differently, and all of them were off by some degrees owing to the unsophisticated measuring skills of the time period. You are guessing and playing loosey-goosey with language translations.

Once again, don't post Zeitgeist bullshiat


Don't tell me what to post and what not to post. I'm not the one purporting to believe any of them hold any more weight than the other. it's all myth and legend as far as I'm concerned. you're picking at nits. they both used the winter solstice as a reference point for for establishing a date of birth. they're both wrong because they're both bullshiat
 
2013-12-14 05:09:09 AM  

Hobodeluxe: . they both used the winter solstice as a reference point for for establishing a date of birt


The winter solstice for Jesus wasn't settled upon for 300 years. For Mithras it was always the day. And Mithras wasn't the only sun deity celebrated on December 25th, the Romans eventually had Sol Invictus on the 25th. As for why Jesus' birthday got moved, likely scenario is a calendar issue. Early Christians looking at Jesus' birth had some issues with the old Jewish calendar, so to set things up, they moved Jesus' birth to where things were more to their liking.
 
2013-12-14 05:30:15 AM  

All2morrowsparTs: Amish Tech Support: Jesus was an extraterrestrial.

and he built my hotrod.

/wamma lamma ding  dong


Don't forget he drives a Dodge.
 
2013-12-14 05:48:33 AM  

Hobodeluxe: Don't tell me what to post and what not to post. I'm not the one purporting to believe any of them hold any more weight than the other. it's all myth and legend as far as I'm concerned. you're picking at nits. they both used the winter solstice as a reference point for for establishing a date of birth. they're both wrong because they're both bullshiat


Fine, but don't come in here claiming that one is a wholly owned subsidiary of the other. If there were a dozen popular religions, cults and cultural customs back in the day and ALL of them had Dec. 25 as a great time feast holiday solstice event thingy, then chances are Christianity was going to have one too, irrespective of the recognition of any others.
 
2013-12-14 06:16:16 AM  

Ishkur: Hobodeluxe: Don't tell me what to post and what not to post. I'm not the one purporting to believe any of them hold any more weight than the other. it's all myth and legend as far as I'm concerned. you're picking at nits. they both used the winter solstice as a reference point for for establishing a date of birth. they're both wrong because they're both bullshiat

Fine, but don't come in here claiming that one is a wholly owned subsidiary of the other. If there were a dozen popular religions, cults and cultural customs back in the day and ALL of them had Dec. 25 as a great time feast holiday solstice event thingy, then chances are Christianity was going to have one too, irrespective of the recognition of any others.


that was just one of several similarities in the legends of both. it was the totality of all that information that makes it more than just coincidental. one is derived from the other imo.
 
2013-12-14 06:18:36 AM  
This thread makes me wanna

i65.photobucket.com
 
2013-12-14 06:35:04 AM  

Hobodeluxe: that was just one of several similarities in the legends of both. it was the totality of all that information that makes it more than just coincidental


That I sufficiently debunked. Okay.

Hobodeluxe: one is derived from the other imo.


Listen, Christianity is full of a whole bunch of unbelievable bullshiat and a lot of its customs and traditions are indeed ripped off from other popular festivals and rituals of the day. But the Mithras origin is not one of them (or, at least, not all of it and not to any degree of certainty). In fact, Christianity openly despised the Mithraic mysteries and went to great lengths to expel it off the face of the Earth. Mithras would be the last place the Christians would have gotten the Christ mythology from.

There is enough crap about the religion to debunk that you don't have to go out of your way to make shiat up.
 
2013-12-14 06:49:27 AM  

WhyteRaven74: Ishkur: why did they celebrate it on December 25 which was wrong?

They celebrated it on December 25th according to the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar, which is what we use.


Russian orthodoxy still uses the Julian calendar for holidays. Right now, Christmas is on January 7th (Gregorian) and will gradually shift further away from the "new" December 25th. That is one advantage of working here. I get "my" Christmas off from work and "their" Christmas. fark yeah, two Christmases
 
2013-12-14 07:50:07 AM  
Garth Ennis' take on Jesus, Antichrist, etc.

3.bp.blogspot.com
 
2013-12-14 09:21:13 AM  

Nina_Hartley's_Ass: She's a Doobie Brothers fan but she's always getting the lyrics wrong.


Thinking Jeses was white is what a fool believes.
 
2013-12-14 09:48:21 AM  

Jim_Callahan: PC LOAD LETTER: Jesus probably existed. We have less evidence for other historical figures existing

Only one source assembled from sources of dubious authenticity 400 years after the fact by ideogogues with an overwhelming political agenda is pretty much no evidence whatsoever.

The historical documentation for Zeus descending from the heavens to have sex with random women as a goose is overwhelming compared to the "evidence" for a single historical Jesus, for context.


You do realize that Herodotus is the oldest source of information for large numbers of Greek historical folks, right? In fact until Diogenes Laertius, it was the only source of information for many of the folks mentioned in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Why are we holding Jesus to a more strict standard?
 
2013-12-14 09:51:46 AM  

worlddan: The Jews of 0 AD had a clear and specific definition of what those "magical bits" were and not any old magical bits were going to do. Not any person could be the Christ no more than the Christ could be any person. There was only one Christ: Jesus. No one is forced to believe that but anyone who doesn't is not Christian in any traditional understanding of that word.


Lol.  I can't let this pass without comment.  The Jews of 0 AD and of today have a clear and specific definition of the Messiah, and Jesus doesn't fit it.  So, if you're conflating "Christ" with the Jewish Messiah, then Jesus certainly wasn't the "only one Christ."  Christians believe that, but that's why they're Christians and not Jews.
 
2013-12-14 10:10:10 AM  
The Easter Bunny is always depicted as a white rabbit. Is he really white? Was the original Easter Bunny white or is this a construct of paternalistic Western white hegemonistic culture? Inquiring minds don't give a shiat.
 
2013-12-14 10:16:15 AM  

Jim_Callahan: The gospels aren't records, they're religious myths, though. Other historical figures have actual third-party confirmation, not one dude telling a story. We're back to the "on par with the evidence of Zeus swan-based escapades" there.


Herodotus treats Hercules as a real person. As I said, Herodotus was the sole source of information for much of what we know about various people he mentions. So, since he uses Hercules, who is of divine birth and has done supernatural feats, as real, where does this leave the Gospels?
 
2013-12-14 10:24:40 AM  

Hobodeluxe: The Name: Hobodeluxe: Ishkur: Hobodeluxe: Mithra was born on December 25th

Why would the Persians be using a Roman calendar several hundred years before any of them would even know Rome exists?

Don't post bullshiat from Zeitgeist.

you do know that they had calendars and that they can correlate the approximate date by the solstice right? a day was still a day.

Not to unwittingly support Jesus-conspiracy theorists here, but yeah . . . calendars are pretty easy to correlate as long as they're using some sort of lunar/solar system and you know what "date" they're starting from.

that's all just deflection imo. the date isn't that important. my point was the number of similarities in the two stories. there are others too. not just Mithras and Jesus who share a lot of common threads.


Except the majority of that Mithras copy-paste is total bullshiat and makes up a lot of stuff about Mithras.
 
2013-12-14 11:11:56 AM  
 When I first read the headline I thought it was saying Jesus was half-white.
that would have either be some industrial strength derp, or nuclear level trolling.
 
2013-12-14 11:19:00 AM  

Hollie Maea: catmandu: There is no such thing as a white race. There is Negroid (sub-Saharan Africa); Mongoloid (east Asia, Russia west of the Urals, indigenous people of North and South America); Australoid (Australia and parts of Melanesia), and Caucasoid (North Africa, Middle East, Europe, Indian subcontinent, western Russia).

Jesus was Caucasian but he definitely wasn't white.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's a bit obsolete understanding of things.


Nope, it is still the accepted anthropological way of categorizing humans, just ask any forensic anthropologist.

Sociological is a whole different can of worms.
 
2013-12-14 11:26:02 AM  

simplicimus: DirtyDeadGhostofEbenezerCooke: simplicimus: DirtyDeadGhostofEbenezerCooke: Maybe...

[www.dvdtalk.com image 400x234]

...depends on what you think about the 'Holy Trinity'.

I thought I was the only one here who remembered that film.

The genius apple didn't fall far from the gawddam genius apple tree...

 I'm on my way to Jerusalem to be an actor/singer. It is written that the Agent Morris awaits me.


For us, 'I can crawl again!' was a catchphrase/joke after every damn accident/disaster/hospitalization/doctor's visit/recovery for years.
 
2013-12-14 11:33:20 AM  
In America, Jesus is green.
And looks suspiciously like Ben Franklin.
 
2013-12-14 11:53:57 AM  

DirtyDeadGhostofEbenezerCooke: simplicimus: DirtyDeadGhostofEbenezerCooke: simplicimus: DirtyDeadGhostofEbenezerCooke: Maybe...

[www.dvdtalk.com image 400x234]

...depends on what you think about the 'Holy Trinity'.

I thought I was the only one here who remembered that film.

The genius apple didn't fall far from the gawddam genius apple tree...

 I'm on my way to Jerusalem to be an actor/singer. It is written that the Agent Morris awaits me.

For us, 'I can crawl again!' was a catchphrase/joke after every damn accident/disaster/hospitalization/doctor's visit/recovery for years.


I was checking IMDB and saw that Robert Downey Jr. had an uncredited appearance in his father's movie.
 
2013-12-14 12:48:25 PM  

Ambivalence: Any bets on how many "he doesn't have a degree in religious studies so can't be a religious scholar" derp era we get on this thread.


It would appear there were none, which is good considering he has a bachelor's in religions and a masters of theological studies from Harvard. Hell his PhD is in sociology, but it covers the history of religion. Anyone arguing he doesn't have a degree in religious studies is pretty far wrong.
 
2013-12-14 01:45:28 PM  

PC LOAD LETTER: You do realize that Herodotus is the oldest source of information for large numbers of Greek historical folks, right? In fact until Diogenes Laertius, it was the only source of information for many of the folks mentioned in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Why are we holding Jesus to a more strict standard?


Yeah! Why are we holding the son of God to a higher standard?

We're not. Those philosophers may not have existed wither, and if they didn't it changes very little because no one is literally worshiping them as God.
 
2013-12-14 01:46:19 PM  

impaler: Those philosophers may not have existed either,


FTFM
 
2013-12-14 01:49:12 PM  

redmid17: Ambivalence: Any bets on how many "he doesn't have a degree in religious studies so can't be a religious scholar" derp era we get on this thread.

It would appear there were none, which is good considering he has a bachelor's in religions and a masters of theological studies from Harvard. Hell his PhD is in sociology, but it covers the history of religion. Anyone arguing he doesn't have a degree in religious studies is pretty far wrong.


If you're unfamiliar why Ambivalence said that, it's because right-wingers said just that.
Link
 
2013-12-14 02:28:26 PM  

impaler: PC LOAD LETTER: You do realize that Herodotus is the oldest source of information for large numbers of Greek historical folks, right? In fact until Diogenes Laertius, it was the only source of information for many of the folks mentioned in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Why are we holding Jesus to a more strict standard?

Yeah! Why are we holding the son of God to a higher standard?

We're not. Those philosophers may not have existed wither, and if they didn't it changes very little because no one is literally worshiping them as God.


See my comment about Hercules above. I don't care if people worship people as gods or not, and that has zero bearing on if they actually existed as normal humans. Saints are demigods who perform magic, miracles, and witchcraft on behalf of the gods for all intents and purposes. We don't doubt that St. Patrick existed.
 
2013-12-14 02:53:20 PM  

PC LOAD LETTER: See my comment about Hercules above. I don't care if people worship people as gods or not, and that has zero bearing on if they actually existed as normal humans. Saints are demigods who perform magic, miracles, and witchcraft on behalf of the gods for all intents and purposes. We don't doubt that St. Patrick existed.


Link
 
2013-12-14 03:13:43 PM  

impaler: PC LOAD LETTER: See my comment about Hercules above. I don't care if people worship people as gods or not, and that has zero bearing on if they actually existed as normal humans. Saints are demigods who perform magic, miracles, and witchcraft on behalf of the gods for all intents and purposes. We don't doubt that St. Patrick existed.

Link


There's a reason I don't use Socrates for my examples, and that's it. Again, Hercules was treated as real by Herodotus. And that goes to the fact that Herodotus is the only source of information--written long after the people he wrote about lived, mind you--that we have on many people he mentions. That's a big reason Diogenes Laertius isn't considered a reliable source, but we don't deny that people exist simply because Herodotus thought Hercules was real. Or do we start considering the possibility that Hercules was actually real, which has been floated before and I have no problem considering. King Arthur was one or several of a bunch of late-Roman-empire warlords in Brittania from what many have postulated. Ancient sources are horrible evidence for many of the reasons that that link says, yet, again, we do not apply the same standard to Saints or other demigods evenly. Why?

I get that some of my fellow Atheists want Jesus to simply NOT EXIST. It's a special kind of burial of religion that I appreciate. But I have a very specific view on religious events: they were mundane and boring and people were easily fooled by natural phenomena, were on drugs or drunk, or thought mental illness was dialogue with the Gods--see Abraham hearing voices to kill his son and the descriptions of Mohammed listening to "god", namely the voices in his head, as the descriptions of him were that he was listening to silence. I would much rather say "yeah, Jesus probably existed, but let's not get crazy here".
 
2013-12-14 03:52:39 PM  

PC LOAD LETTER: I get that some of my fellow Atheists want Jesus to simply NOT EXIST.


This has nothing to do with what Atheists (or anybody else) "want". I myself am an atheist and I used to be convinced that a guy called Jesus actually existed - because that was what the consensus seemed to be - right up until I ended up studying the actual history of the relevant region and time period.

The fact that there's no contemporary documentation at all - as in, literally none - really is a big deal. We have terms for stories like this, which are based on nothing more than hearsay from decades after the events are purported to have happened - we call them "folklore". This isn't to say that all folklore is necessarily false - some or even all of a given story may be true, but the evidence for it may simply not have survived. Nonetheless, it's quite distinct from events that we consider to be actual history.
 
2013-12-14 05:41:19 PM  

Biological Ali: PC LOAD LETTER: I get that some of my fellow Atheists want Jesus to simply NOT EXIST.

This has nothing to do with what Atheists (or anybody else) "want". I myself am an atheist and I used to be convinced that a guy called Jesus actually existed - because that was what the consensus seemed to be - right up until I ended up studying the actual history of the relevant region and time period.

The fact that there's no contemporary documentation at all - as in, literally none - really is a big deal. We have terms for stories like this, which are based on nothing more than hearsay from decades after the events are purported to have happened - we call them "folklore". This isn't to say that all folklore is necessarily false - some or even all of a given story may be true, but the evidence for it may simply not have survived. Nonetheless, it's quite distinct from events that we consider to be actual history.


I'm an Atheist who believes that Jesus the man may or may not have been real.

Sort of the Schrodinger's Cat of Gods.

He's only real if we can pop out of a TARDIS and observe him, kind of thing.

But whether there was a real man who was the kernel of truth inside the mythos or whether he was made up of whole cloth entirely, some of which was recycled from previous beliefs and stories, is rather moot.

Debatable, fun to speculate on but ultimately unimportant.

Unless, of course, you are a certain type of literalist believer in which case it's The. Most Important. Thing. Evah.
 
2013-12-14 06:01:59 PM  

Biological Ali: PC LOAD LETTER: I get that some of my fellow Atheists want Jesus to simply NOT EXIST.

This has nothing to do with what Atheists (or anybody else) "want". I myself am an atheist and I used to be convinced that a guy called Jesus actually existed - because that was what the consensus seemed to be - right up until I ended up studying the actual history of the relevant region and time period.

The fact that there's no contemporary documentation at all - as in, literally none - really is a big deal. We have terms for stories like this, which are based on nothing more than hearsay from decades after the events are purported to have happened - we call them "folklore". This isn't to say that all folklore is necessarily false - some or even all of a given story may be true, but the evidence for it may simply not have survived. Nonetheless, it's quite distinct from events that we consider to be actual history.


If people only exist if there are contemporary accounts of them, we have to throw out large swaths of history around the world. Must of proto-dynastic Egypt and early middle-eastern history is based on later accounts or things like the carving of a single mace head that may or may not belong to a King Scorpion. We know the Iliad and the Odessey exist, but they were written down long after Homer existed, and there are zero contemporary accounts of Homer, or even evidence that those works were written by a single individual, let alone a specifically blind man. Troy was considered mythical until it (or what we believe is it) was dug up. We can never be sure of ancient sources for information, and ancient history is very hard stuff once you start looking for primary sources. But we can take a good guess as to the likelihood of something being true, even after the fact. Reject the supernatural, keep the mundane. Jesus, sure. Christ, no.
 
2013-12-14 09:55:06 PM  

Phil Clinton: Not trying to be a prick. But a lot of that 'Jesus is a copy of other religions' has been going around for a while and a lot of it isn't true. The Egyptian links have been debunked by actual Egyptians. Mithra was never resurrected, and he was made from a rock not born to a virgin. The older versions of Mithra have no similarities to Jesus. Those didn't show up until the first or second century A.D. (after Jesus was born). This post doesn't mean in any way the Christian Bible is correct or represents one true religion. But, if you think something is bullshiat, the answer to disproving it isn't more bullshiat.


I was amused when someone tried to tell me that Horus was "born of a virgin on December 25 and laid in a manger," because some link to a new-age web page said so.
 
2013-12-14 11:47:12 PM  

PC LOAD LETTER: If people only exist if there are contemporary accounts of them, we have to throw out large swaths of history around the world.


I don't know how you get from what I said to "throw out large swaths of history around the world". Recognizing something as folklore rather than fact doesn't mean you've "thrown it out" - it means you've acknowledged the actual nature of the information and you've got a more accurate sense of the likelihood of it being true.
 
2013-12-15 12:26:46 AM  
In his book, "Did Jesus Exist?", Bart Ehrman lays out some good reasons to accept that a preacher named Jesus (Yeshua, whatever) existed in 1st-century Palestine. There is, however, no reason to think he was magic.
 
2013-12-15 02:17:57 AM  

The Name: cynicalminion: Biological Ali: machoprogrammer: Basically, non-Christian Roman historians from the first century mention him (Josephus and Tacitus).

I'm going to leave Josephus aside for reasons that should already be obvious. The other mentions from people like Tacitus (and I believe Suetonius and possibly Cassius Dio) basically amount to nothing more than them repeating, in passing, a story about something that supposedly happened well in advance of the events they're actually narrating. Which is to say that Tacitus never actually chronicled anything about Jesus in the same way that he chronicled Nero's persecution of the Christians, which is what that passage was ultimately about. Indeed, as far as I know there are no contemporary mentions of Jesus at all.

One can (do what with?)one's hat on the fact that these historians literally mentioned the name Jesus (or some equivalent), but they mention plenty else that we don't have any particularly strong reason to believe happened, especially when they depart from the immediate events being described and go into hearsay about things far removed from those occurrences. It's been a while since my Roman history class but even Tacitus, though he was one of the more formal and less sensationalist historians, occasionally wrote about conspiracy theories etc. based on no real evidence other than "some people are saying this".

holy bleeding fark,

Lol.  Somebody thinks there were newspaper reporters, archives, youtube and NSA records in the first century.

Let me give you a hint:  If we had to throw out every historical figure for whom there are no contemporary records, we'd have to throw out about three-quarters of ancient history.



To all of you arguing about Tacitus, do you know what this is?
www.jesusneverexisted.com

It's a special photograph taken of the word "christianos" from the earliest known manuscript of Tacitus's Annals. Scholars had long wondered why the "ri" was in a different style than the same letter pair elsewhere in the document, why the dot on the "i" was so exaggerated (almost a diagonal hyphen), and why there was that gap between it and the long "s" ("ſ" ← that is not an "f"!).

Then ultraviolet light was used to cause the parchment (skin) to fluoresce and show the presence of older ink that had been erased and overwritten. The "i" was originally an "e", making the word "chreſtianoſ" ("chrestianos" ― literally, "the good people" or "the goody-goodies"), not "chriſtianoſ" ("christianos" ― "Christians"). This photo was taken using the ultraviolet light.

Someone deliberately altered that manuscript centuries ago to change "goody-goodies" into "Christians."


Ishkur: WhyteRaven74: The ancients were far better at making calendars then many people realize. The Egyptians worked out a solar year is 365 days, over 4 thousand years ago. The Persians had a calendar that was as accurate as anything we have. It doesn't actually take much to make a reliable calender. Just watch the moon and stars or watch the shadows the sun casts when it's at its high point each day and watch where it rises and sets on the horizon. And if you really want to nail things down, do both. Though which type of calendar, solar or lunar, was preferred or most used depended on what people did. Since a solar calendar was far better suited to working out when the Nile would flood, the Egyptians ran with it.

Right, so if they're all so awesomely accurate at measuring the Solstice, why did they celebrate it on December 25 which was wrong?


The Name: Because that was the date for which the ceremony had been established from time immemorial. The poebl celebrated on that day, and the astrologers marked a different day as the actual solstice. And somehow the sky didn't fall.


WhyteRaven74: They celebrated it on December 25th according to the Julian calendar, not the Gregorian calendar, which is what we use.


Both of you are wrong. The answer to Ishkur's question is much simpler: it wasn't the Solstice itself that they were celebrating (why would they? It was the day when the Sun was at its apparent weakest!), but rather the first day when it became obvious that the Solstice was over, that the Sun was coming back, that the light was rallying against the darkness and would eventually overcome it (on the Vernal Equinox). That day is December 25 (as converted to the modern Gregorian calendar from whatever calendar was in use), the first day that people could see the days starting to get longer again, four days after the actual Solstice.

As summer turns into autumn which turns into winter, the Sun keeps moving south, and since its path through the sky is tilted south (as seen from the Northern Hemisphere) from the perpendicular at an angle equal to the latitude of location, the further south it goes, the shorter its path through the sky. It looked as if the Sun would eventually "fall off" the south end of the sky, never to be seen again. Darkness would prevail.

Until the Solstice. As that approached, the Sun's southward retreat slowed, then stopped. For about a week, from about three days before to about three days after the actual Solstice, the Sun appeared not to move much, if any, rising and setting in about the same places as viewed from any given place on the ground. Indeed, the very name "Solstice" literally means, "the Sun stands still."

And then, on December 25, the miracle happens: the Sun actually moves north! Just a bit, but it's noticeable! Its sky-path was longer than it had been the previous week! The day was actually longer than it had been! The Sun was coming back! The Rebirth of the Unconquered Sun (Dies Natali Sol Invictus)! In following days, it will move further and further north, getting longer still.

That's what they were celebrating.
 
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