Does Josephus prove a historical Jesus?

(The following is part of a 30+page rebuttal to the material in Bart Ehrman’s book Did Jesus Exist? directly discussing my work.)

Ehrman on Josephus’s Testimonium Flavianum

Here I will address Ehrman’s section on the Jewish historian Josephus’s supposed mention of Jesus in the “Testimonium Flavianum” (Antiquities 18.3.3 [Whiston]; 18.63). As we would expect, Bart believes the Testimonium is genuine, with the typical Christian interpolations.

Following is the original Greek Testimonium Flavianum (“TF”), from the manuscript Flavius Josephus. Flavii Iosephi opera. B. Niese. Berlin. Weidmann. 1892:

Γίνεται δὲ κατὰ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον Ἰησοῦς σοφὸς ἀνήρ, εἴγε ἄνδρα αὐτὸν λέγειν χρή: ἦν γὰρ παραδόξων ἔργων ποιητής, διδάσκαλος ἀνθρώπων τῶν ἡδονῇ τἀληθῆ δεχομένων, καὶ πολλοὺς μὲν Ἰουδαίους, πολλοὺς δὲ καὶ τοῦ Ἑλληνικοῦ ἐπηγάγετο: ὁ χριστὸς οὗτος ἦν. καὶ αὐτὸν ἐνδείξει τῶν πρώτων ἀνδρῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν σταυρῷ ἐπιτετιμηκότος Πιλάτου οὐκ ἐπαύσαντο οἱ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαπήσαντες: ἐφάνη γὰρ αὐτοῖς τρίτην ἔχων ἡμέραν πάλιν ζῶν τῶν θείων προφητῶν ταῦτά τε καὶ ἄλλα μυρία περὶ αὐτοῦ θαυμάσια εἰρηκότων. εἰς ἔτι τε νῦν τῶν Χριστιανῶν ἀπὸ τοῦδε ὠνομασμένον οὐκ ἐπέλιπε τὸ φῦλον.

Ehrman (59-60) provides a translation of the TF from “the best manuscript of Josephus”:

At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one should call him a man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. He was the messiah. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. For he appeared to them on the third day, living again, just as the divine prophets had spoken of these and countless other wondrous things about him. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out. (Antiquities 18.3.3)

If that passage in its entirety doesn’t sound like a breathless Christian advertisement, I don’t know what does! In any event, since historicizers – believers and evemerists alike – become so hung up on this passage, arguing that it proves Jesus’s existence, we need to address this issue continually.

After citing the passage, Ehrman (60) says:

The problems with this passage should be obvious to anyone with even a casual knowledge of Josephus…. He was thoroughly and ineluctably Jewish and certainly never converted to be a follower of Jesus. But this passage contains comments that only a Christian would make: that Jesus was more than a man, that he was the messiah, and that he arose from the dead in fulfillment of the scriptures. In the judgment of most scholars, there is simply no way Josephus the Jew would or could have written such things. So how did these comments get into his writings?

Ehrman goes on to explain, “When Christian scribes copied the text, they added a few words here and there to make sure that the reader would get the point. This is that Jesus, the superhuman messiah raised from the dead as the scriptures predicted.”

Such a claim represents the perfect argument for Ehrman to proffer, since he adheres to the evemerist perspective that Jesus was a real person, a mundane Jewish prophet and wannabe messiah, to whose biography his ardent followers added a series of supernatural fairytales.

As seen elsewhere in his book, as concerns the lack of contemporary record for this “wise man” and “doer of startling deeds,” the only way Ehrman can maintain a “historical” Jesus, in fact, is to minimize him to a point where he is almost meaningless, a pathetic shell of a “man” in whom no Christian believer would ever put faith. Hence, Christians will not rejoice in Ehrman’s anti-mythicist work.

Ehrman (60) further states:

The big question is whether a Christian scribe (or scribes) simply added a few choice Christian additions to the passage or whether the entire thing was produced by a Christian and inserted in an appropriate place in Josephus’s Antiquities.

The majority of scholars of early Judaism, and experts on Josephus, think that it was the former–that one or more Christian scribes “touched up” the passage a bit.

At this point, Ehrman provides a Meier-type “original” TF, with the supposed Christian interpolations removed:

At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. He was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. When Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out.

Here is John P. Meier’s reconstructed TF, with the purported Christian interpolations in bold:

About this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one should call him a man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. He was the Messiah. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. For he appeared to them on the third day, living again, just as the divine prophets had spoken of these and countless other wondrous things about him. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out.

Meier’s reconstruction is not the only one, as there have been others with even more parts removed, and still other scholars, such as Alice Whealey, strike out less, such as only the sentence “He was the messiah.” Meanwhile, many Christian apologists contend for the TF’s authenticity in its entirety.

Ehrman thus seems clear that Christians were interpolating ancient texts with material they likewise added into the gospel story: To wit, supernatural claims. We are in concurrence here, except to the degree of interpolation. Bart must realize that his views are as repugnant to Christian conservatives as are those of mythicists, and there is little reason not to go further and conclude that, in the case of the TF, those interpolating scribes wrote the entire passage, to be inserted into the text by subsequent copyists. The only reason evemerists must cling to this “partial interpolation” theory is because it suits their argument, not because it is scientifically sound.

Note that even this sanitized Josephus sounds far too much like something a Christian would write. The English translation of “condemned him to the cross” does not help this impression, since the original word is “stauros,” which would be better translated as “stake.” Perhaps a better rendering would be: “Pilate…executed him with the stake.”

A ‘wise man,’ ‘doer of startling deeds’ and ‘teacher of truth’ merits little interest?

There are many reasons to suspect the Josephus passage/Testimonium Flavianum as a whole to be a forgery, a recounting of which can be found in my excerpted article “The Jesus Forgery: Josephus Untangled” and in the writings of Earl Doherty and Ken Olson, among others. I will only address a few of the arguments against authenticity here. For example, it has been noted previously that Josephus uses the exact phrase σοφὸς ἀνήρ or “wise man” elsewhere at Ant. 10.237, in a discussion of the biblical prophet Daniel (and the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar), about whom Josephus waxes on over several pages (Ant. 10.10 [Whiston]). It is Daniel here who is the σοφὸς ἀνήρ or “wise man,” and he is afforded tremendous respect.

Yet, later in Josephus a mere 89 words – or only 60, in the “uninterpolated” passage – are reserved for this “wise man” and “doer of startling deeds,” Jesus Christ, who had an entire “tribe” named after him (using an anachronistic term, as we shall see)! Meanwhile, Josephus writes at length in the next section about “a woman named Paulina,” a great beauty whose seedy ravishing in the temple of Isis at Rome warrants almost 700 words.

Moreover, Josephus indicts his own people – the “leading men among us” – as fatally accusing the wondrous and wise Jesus, basically agreeing that these Jews were “Christ-killers,” a calumny used in later centuries by Christians. It is difficult to believe Josephus would not have explored that admission of guilt to see if it was merited.

The intrusiveness of the TF

Ehrman confines his analysis of the mythicist perspective vis-à-vis Josephus largely to Doherty’s work on the subject, describing certain aspects of it as “weak” and ignoring them all to come back to the Meier solution. Bart has an interesting way of minimizing the importance of some aspect merely by his dictum. A case in point is the intrusiveness of the TF passage in Josephus. Citing Doherty’s observation that writers in antiquity made footnote-like digressions that interrupted the previous train of thought, Ehrman (62) basically concludes that the TF represents just such a Josephan digression and then indicates that the Christian scribal interpolation-theory is thus of no importance.

I maintain that the fact the TF appears to be an awkward intrusion breaking the flow of the texts most certainly is of tremendous importance and not to be so easily dismissed. If the TF is a forgery in toto – and I continue to take that position – then its intrusiveness would seem exactly as it does. To put it another way, the TF interrupts Josephus’s flow precisely as we would expect it to do, if it were an interpolation. Ehrman has already agreed that Christians interpolated into Josephus, at least the Christianized bits of the TF. It is only because it is expedient to his argument that the entire TF could not have been likewise interpolated, and there remains no evidence that it was not interpolated into Josephus.

The entire passage smacks of intrusion and uncharacteristic behavior on the part of Josephus. He treats of other subjects at length; yet, Josephus hiccups over someone of the caliber of even the “pared-down” TF? Would he really stop there in his purported digression, which from its still-giddy edited form indicates a level of excitation on his part?

Claiming Christians interpolated the TF in whole is not much different than contending they tinkered with it in part. If they are capable of partial interpolation for informational or propaganda purposes, they are capable of whole interpolation for the same.

Was the word ‘Christians’ even in currency then?

The contention that the entire TF is an interpolation becomes even stronger when we look at the emergence of the word “Christians” into the historical record. As we can see, the word “Christians” remains in the pared-down version of the TF, the original Greek being the plural possessive Χριστιανῶν. The supposed first time the word “Christians” appears is in the book of Acts (11:26), which relates that the Christians were first so-called at the Syrian city of Antioch. In fact, the word “Christians” appears nowhere else in the Bible, while “Christian” can only be found at Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. Whereas the conservative mainstream places the composition of the biblical book of “Acts of the Apostles” at the end of the first century, there is no historical/literary evidence for its existence until the end of the second century, at which point the Antiochene patriarch Theophilus himself defines the word “Christian.” From the scientific evidence we currently possess, the word is apparently a late invention.

Moreover, the evidence points to the appropriate biblical term as “Chrestians,” not “Christians.” In this regard, if we look at the Codex Sinaiticus (Acts 11:26), one of the earliest extant manuscripts of the Bible, dating to the fourth century, we can see that the original word is “Chrestians,” with the “e” or eta (Η) erased and replaced by an “i” or iota (Ι).

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The same “Chrestian to Christian” chicanery has happened with the other two passages in the NT containing the word “Christian,” i.e., Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. These are both quite obviously late books – 1 Peter likewise does not emerge clearly in the historical/literary record until after the middle of the second century, and even then the word “Chrestian” appears to be a new moniker for these followers of Chrestos, the “Good” or “Useful.”

Again, the Greek Testimonium cited above uses the word “Christians,” and we would be very surprised if the term appeared in the original Josephus, since it is obvious these earlier followers would have been Chrestians. Of course, one could argue that by the time of the earliest extant manuscript of Josephus, dating to the 11th century, the scribes would have “corrected” the text to be in line with the accepted “Christians,” rather than “Chrestians.”

However, there remains the problem with the date when Acts first clearly appears in the historical record, which, despite the wishful thinking of Christian apologists and mainstream scholars, does not occur until, again, the end of the second century. At this time, Theophilus (d. 183-5) writes a definition of the word – which must have been “Chrestians” in his original Greek. (One of the chapters (12) in book 1 of Theophilus’s Autolycus is called “The meaning of the word ‘Christian.’”) Note that this is the same “Theophilus” whom several mythicists and other scholars have suggested is the person addressed by the author of Luke-Acts, meaning those texts were not written until the end of the second century, when Theophilus thrived. And, indeed, that is when these texts clearly emerge in the historical/literary record. (See my book Who Was Jesus? for a discussion of Theophilus and Luke-Acts.)

Alice Whealey and the TF

In preparation for my Christ Con revision, I spent quite some time pouring over Dr. Alice Whealey’s book Josephus on Jesus: The Testimonium Flavianum Controversy from Late Antiquity to Modern Times, since she is held up as presenting a definitive study of this issue. I ended up with over 100 pages of analysis, which will be turned into a monograph of its own. Ehrman (64) mentions Whealey briefly, but in fact he does not concur with her conclusions, although he does not say so in the present work.

In brief, Whealey argues that the TF is almost entirely genuine, minus the “He was the Christ/messiah” sentence. Obviously, there are problems with such a perspective, including the rest of the patently Christian enthusiasm in which Josephus surely would not have engaged. Moreover, if the rest of the TF is genuine, there simply remains no reason Josephus would not have expounded further upon such a wondrous individual who fulfilled the prophets and arose from the dead! Again, right after this brief section, Josephus dives into a long and tedious discussion of the ravishing of the beautiful and rich Paulina in the temple of Isis at Rome. Although this latter passage is instrumental in illustrating the indecent shenanigans of the wealthy elite and religionists, why would Josephus dedicate so much time to this account, while briefly summarizing one of the most amazing people he had ever come across – a fellow Jew of great wisdom and doer of startling deeds to whom many Jews and Greeks had supplicated themselves – as his purported writing indicates?

Whealey also focuses on why the TF is never mentioned before Church historian Eusebius (c. 263-339), arguing that the other Church fathers give no indication of reading book 18 of the Antiquities, so why should they mention it? She then concludes that Origen – who did read book 18 and who specifically states that Josephus does not believe Jesus was the Christ – must have known about the TF. Here is why Whealey removes only the “He was the Christ” sentence, because Origen, whom she concludes knew the TF, says Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Christ. Despite the indepth research she presents, we still have no proof that Origen knew the TF, minus the sentence “He was the Christ.” Moreover, if Origen did know the TF, there then remains no reason why he would not discuss it and why the fathers following him would have been oblivious to book 18 and uninterested in the TF.

Whealey asks a good question when she wonders why Origen would bring up Jesus while discussing Josephus, if there was no reference to him at all in the Jewish historian’s works. It is possible that Origen was referring to one of the other Jesuses in Josephus, possibly even the Old Testament hero Joshua, revered for bringing the Israelites into the Promised Land and treated of at length by the Jewish historian. The Greek word for “messiah,” christos, was not limited to Jesus Christ but can be found in the Old Testament/Septuagint around 40 times, referring to a number of OT heroes, including King David and the Persian king Cyrus. It is possible that Origen’s comment was simply an offhand remark about how there was nothing at all in Josephus concerning Jesus of Nazareth, implying that the Jewish historian obviously did not consider Jesus to be the Christ, since he did not even write about him. It could even be something as simple as a reference to the other “Jesus” in the section about “James the brother” (Ant. 20.9.1) – a “Jesus” that need not be Jesus of Nazareth but could very well be the one mentioned in the same chapter (Ant. 20.9.4), Jesus the son of Gamaliel, the successor of Jesus the son of Damneus. The bottom line is that there is no hard scientific evidence that Origen knew the TF and that it remains unknown in the historical record until Eusebius.

Earlier stories about Jesus?

According to Erhman, the TF may be genuine, without the Christianized bits as above. However, he does not think that the text suffices to demonstrate the historicity of Jesus. Says he (65):

The payoff is that most scholars continue to be convinced that Josephus did indeed write about Jesus, probably in something like the pared-down version that I quote above.

But that is not the main point I want to make about the Testimonium. My main point is that whether the Testimonium is authentically from Josephus (in its pared-down form) or not probably does not ultimately matter for the question I am pursuing here. Whether or not Jesus lived has to be decided on other kinds of evidence from this. And here is why. Suppose Josephus really did write the Testimonium. That would show that by 93 CE – some sixty or more years after the traditional date of Jesus’s death – a Jewish historian of Palestine had some information about him. And where would Josephus have derived this information? He would have heard stories about Jesus that were in circulation. There is nothing to suggest that Josephus had actually read the Gospels (he almost certainly did not) or that he did any kind of primary research into the life of Jesus by examining Roman records of any kind (there weren’t any). But as we will see later, we already know for lots of other reasons and on lots of other grounds that there were stories about Jesus floating around in Palestine by the end of the first century and much earlier. So even if the Testimonium, in the pared-down form, was written by Josephus, it does not give us much more evidence than we already have on the question of whether there really was a man Jesus.

So, whether or not the TF is authentic is irrelevant as it proves nothing more than late hearsay, passed along for decades – that is essentially the mythicist position on Josephus as well. Ehrman’s “lots and lots of reasons” he presents later consist of circular reasoning and the uncritical acceptance of the earliest mainstream dates for the canonical gospels: To wit, the Lukan prologue claims “many” had attempted to write the “narrative,” and since Luke’s gospel obviously must have existed by the end of the first century, these many narratives provide proof that there were numerous stories circulating before that time!

The fact that the canonical gospel of Luke is nowhere to be found in the historical/literary record until the end of the second century might actually account for those “many” narratives, and, as I show in Who Was Jesus?, various Church fathers such as Origen, Epiphanius and Jerome associated these “many narratives” with the gospels of various second-century individuals, such as Basilides, Cerinthus, Merinthus and Apelles. Thus, we remain without any credible scientific evidence of such extrabiblical stories about Jesus of Nazareth during the first century.

As concerns Josephus, after attempting to prove that the Jewish historian does indeed mention Jesus, Ehrman (66) remarks:

There is no reason to think if Jesus lived that Josephus must have mentioned him. He doesn’t mention most Jews of the first century…

We agree, but he does mention some 20 other Jesuses from the first century to centuries earlier! Nevertheless, it is good to know that there is no reason to suspect that Josephus must have mentioned Jesus.

The fact is that even the “partial-interpolation theory” admits Christians were tinkering with ancient texts, altering histories to suit their purposes. In pronouncing the TF a forgery in toto, we are claiming the same thing to a more significant and scientifically founded extent.

Further Reading

The Jesus Forgery: Josephus Untangled
The Son-Sun pun strawman
Bart Ehrman: ‘Mythicist’s arguments are fairly plausible’

The phallic ‘Savior of the World’ hidden in the Vatican
Did Jesus Exist? forum thread

Josephus mentions nearly 20 Jesus’s & none turn out to be the NT Jesus
Does Suetonius refer to Jesus?
Christos or Chrestos?

66 Comments

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  1. Excellent work, Acharya. I’m reminded of this quote:

    “The only definite account of his life and teachings is contained in the four Gospels of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All other historical records of the time are silent about him. The brief mentions of Jesus in the writings of Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius have been generally regarded as not genuine and as Christian interpolations; in Jewish writings there is no report about Jesus that has historical value. Some scholars have even gone so far as to hold that the entire Jesus story is a myth…”

    The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (v. 6, 83)

    - Who Was Jesus? 84

    Here are other quotes from New Testament scholars who are also professed Christians ([url]http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=11975#p11975[/url]).

    1. Yep, faith and euphoria do not trump valid evidence that actually exists. If theists could substantiate their supernatural religious claims with credible evidence that actually existed, faith, would never need to be the main requirement.

      God/Jesus is supposed to be the omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe yet, is incapable of stopping heinous evil abuses like pedophilia or “acts of god,” plus, God/Jesus is incapable of leaving behind credible evidence of himself, which would:

      - Save children from abuse and a lifetime of therapy

      - Save people from frightening deaths in storms etc.

      - Save Christians from persecution

      - Convince billions more skeptics and Pagans thus, saving more souls, which is what all of this is suppose to be all about, right?

      So, either God/Jesus doesn’t give a sh*t about you or he doesn’t exist. All theistic arguments have failed. There’s still not a shred of valid evidence for Christian supernatural religious claims. It seems more likely that religion is a human creation with an obsession of ridding the world of non-believers.

      For example:

      At the end of the tribulation, apocalypse and Armageddon, the book of Revelation makes it clear that eventually 2/3rds of the human population (all non-believers of course = [b]discrimination[/b]) will be killed in what the religious tolerance website calls “[i]the largest mass extermination of humans in history[/i].” ([url]http://www.religioustolerance.org/rapture.htm[/url]) With nearly 7 billion people on the planet right now that’s 5.25 billion who will be murdered in the ‘End Times.’ ([url]http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2329[/url]) What a sweet God you’ve got there (sarcasm).

      [b]“People who are obsessed with end times have never learned from history. They’ve been 100 percent wrong, 100 percent of the time.”
      - Hank Hanegraaff[/b]

    2. We are first and foremost a spiritual creature .. throwing religion out the door will result in more and more idiots .. and I mean educated idiots … reason, logic, common sense, have their place, but without that ‘spiritual leg’ – our stool cannot stand firmly

      I know the religions are confusing and lacking – but all have a flicker of truth and spirit we must honor

      1. shushaflyin -a “spiritual creature”
        Shushaflyin, what school did you go to that taught you “we are first and foremost spiritual creatures…” I would like to go there because I hated biology! Having to look at all our gross anatomy, inside and out, all the gooey blood, slimy organs, covered with flesh and bones…we actually look almost exactly like monkeys…oh, wait, I am curious, did they teach you in your
        school that monkeys were spiritual creatues too??

        Please let me know.

        1. I was brought up to believe that evolution lie and brainwashed into it from the moment I was in primary school. I understand how you must feel, being taught repeatedly that you come from monkeys and from a rock and then from nothing. I understand how it must be that you were told that since you were young, learning about caves and beginning of fire and such things.
          They didn’t allow you to think for yourself, they tell you that others can’t think for themselves and that you must do it, but that was again a lie for you to submit to them and believe what they say.

          If you thought for yourself you would realize that the Amazing God that created all creatures, created us with the same materials. The fact that monkeys look like us or us like them, inwardly of course and not outwardly, shows that the God of the universe used the same materials and design but with variations. Look at other animals, amazingly created, yet different, all are different, yet same materials. Some have additions, some have less. If God didn’t create them then the animals would have been WAY dumber than what you see now. But the fact that ALL animals and ALL humans have a tendency to act each one according to his kind and have their OWN roles, shows that God created all things and from the beginning gave them a role that set in their DNA. You need to sit for yourself and think about such things, and not what the lying scientists in textbooks have told you. Sorry but this is the dumbest generation since creation. When we were created, humans were MUCH smarter than now, they were bigger, better oxygen level, no pollution, everything was good and awesome, people would heal really fast compared to us.

          Oh but scientists tell you that you shouldn’t think for yourself, let us analyze for you and give you lies with carbon dating that doesn’t work, let us lie to you and tell you that the world was formed out of Nothing and that it was a molten lava, and that we lived in caves for no reason and were dumb dumb dumb.
          Ehem. Really? You want to believe THAT?

          Don’t you know that in the bible it states that Israelites dwelt in caves to flee from enemies? Don’t you know that MANY people around the world fled to live in caves because of war or other reasons? Don’t you know that water and other elements affect how you date things? Don’t you know that carbon dating and other dating methods are proven false? But they continually use them because the population is not aware yet? Don’t you know they are out to deny the God of the universe no matter the cost? Do you not know that the flood during Noah’s time is reported in MANY cultures??? Have a research at that please, and look at all the formations and deserts and islands on the earth, you will soon realize everything in the Bible is true.
          Oh and check Google Earth and look between American’s continent and Africa/Europe, look in the middle, you will notice a fissure going all around the whole earth, now look at this verse: “Gen 7:11 … on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of the heavens were opened.” Now tell me how can someone know that in that time since the ocean is very deep and they did not have submarines and such equipment? The window of the sky was opened. All the water that was stuck there since creation because God did that on purpose to protect us from the sun and other elements, all of that water FELL down and immediately raised the water level incredibly high. The rain alone did not cause all the water to go over the mountains. Oh and the mountains were not as high as now. When you have a huge event like that, you can bet that the earth will split in some areas, thereby moving other areas against each other, enabling them to go higher and other parts lower.
          note: heavens in this verse means the atmosphere and such. Great deep = the deep ocean. English was way different than it was now, something for you to know.

          Thanks for your time.

    3. I almost got mired in all the crazy in the comments, but then I remembered I originally came to say thanks for the excellent article. Thank you!

  2. Don’t you heathens/atheists/secularists/weepers and gnashers of teeth have anything better to do than to attack that which is good? Talk about obsessed. And you have the nerve to call people who adhere to abrahamic religions crazy.

    1. LOL, thanks for that demonstration of bigotry. It wouldn’t be necessary if you had evidence to back up your claims. So, Christians love to go around tossing their bigoted hate speech at those who are simply telling the truth and pointing out the obvious, like Acharya S.

      Nobody I know loves to be lied to and mislead EXCEPT theists. They are not interested in accuracy, objectivity, credible evidence that actually exists, or truth. Yet, they pretend to have the ‘moral high ground.’ It’s embarrassing.

    2. Thank you for your delightful hate speech.

      It is because of Abrahamic religionists spewing hate speech and violent thoughts and actions that we do what we do.

      The Abrahamic cultus has made you angry and hateful – you can let go it now and stop personally attacking people you don’t know on the internet.

      Surely you have something better to do than that?

      Cheers.

    3. KNOCK IT OFF! ABRAHAM
      This is a discussion forum where people are free to speak about their opinions in an adult manner, respectful of everyone, especially if their opinions differ.

      You sound just like the very hateful, rage-filled, jealous god of abraham, who wants everything his way or the highway…are you the son of this god?…or maybe a nephew?

    4. Well, they are crazy, but that’s not my complaint against them. All three Abrahamic religions are wicked and evil. They express the worst that humanity has to offer.

  3. Acharya, you deserve a standing ovation from me for the most credible argument to kick out that pesky TF from any proof of the historical Jesus debates. I wrote a comment to Ken Humphreys review of Ehrman’s book where I asked him (as I suggested to you in one of my previous posts) to challenge Ehrman to prove Jesus DID exist WITHOUT using the New Testament and/ or a few lines from Josephus.

    The great number of trees (for paper) wasted by NT scholars over a few words in Josephus to prove JC existed seemed, to me, to be so childish as well as desperate.

    Ehrman has no where else to go if he can’t use the NT or Josephus to prove JC was historical. He may have written his last book…at least for me (so glad you bought it, now I don’t have to).

    I also wrote to Humphries, and now to you, that your efforts to expose the truth about Christianity, as well as other religions, as bogus brainwashing cults, is more important than winning arguments with fools.
    We’ve got to abolish religions to save humankind, and only mythicists and atheists can start that paradigm shift.

    Right now, the hands of religious fanatics are on nuclear weapons.

  4. a historical Jesus
    Strange that a supposedly non-existant Jesus was/is villified in the Talmud. Why would the Jews spew so much hate towards a mythical character and his mother too?

    It seems to be the best proof that Jesus did indeed exist unless of course the Talmud is full of falsehoods and inaccuracies. So much for any religion in that case. I would suggest that the Torah too must be a fairy tale and should therefore render the claim to the holy land by the Jews to be a complete fabrication. How about it Mardok!

    1. The parts supposedly about Jesus in the Talmud are late in date and based on Christian tales. The Talmud does not serve as evidence that the “Jesus Christ” in the New Testament is a historical figure, only that there were [i]Christians [/i]relating these tales during the time when the texts were written, apparently around the 3rd-4th cents. AD/CE, long after the purported events of the New Testament.

      [quote]The Talmud contains passages that some scholars have concluded are references to Christian traditions about Jesus. The history of textual transmission of these passages is complex and scholars are not agreed concerning which passages are original, and which were added later or removed later in reaction to the actions of Christians. Scholars are also divided on the relationship of the passages, if any, to the historical Jesus, though most modern scholarship views the passages as reaction to Christian proselytism rather than having any meaningful trace of a historical Jesus….

      Peter Schäfer concluded that the references were not from the early tannaitic period (1st and 2nd centuries) but rather from the 3rd and 4th centuries, during the amoraic period. He asserts that the references in the Babylonian Talmud were “polemical counter-narratives that parody the New Testament stories, most notably the story of Jesus’ birth and death” and that the rabbinical authors were familiar with the Gospels (particularly the Gospel of John) in their form as the Diatessaron and the Pesh*tta, the New Testament of the Syrian Church….[/quote]
      Jesus in the Talmud ([url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_in_the_Talmud[/url])

    1. Thanks for that reminder that the bible is full of bigotry and discrimination, Jeff. Here’s more blatant discrimination in the bible:

      [b]Blatant Discrimination against those who simply point out the obvious:[/b]

      1 John 4:2-3 Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.

      2 John 7: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh…”

      John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God

      Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no god.’ they are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good.

      http://www.religioustolerance.org/intol_bibl3.htm

      “No, I don’t know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.”
      - George H.W. Bush, when he was candidate for president

      “Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land – for Jesus Christ – to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect life & godliness. It is dominion we’re after not just a voice. It is dominion we’re after not just influence. It is dominion we’re after not just equal time. It is dominion we’re after. World conquest. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to do.”
      - George Grant, “changing of the guard” pg 50-51

      “Our goal, as christians, is to dominate society”
      - Pat Robertson

      “Christianity & Democracy are inevitably enemies”
      - R.J. Rushdoony “Independent Republic” pg 122, 1964

      “The church should be a disciplined charging army christians, like slaves & solders ask no questions. We are fighting a holy war”
      - Jerry Falwell

      “Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors — in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”
      - D. James Kennedy

      “Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith … We need believing people.”

      - Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933.

    2. This isn’t about God. It’s about whether Jesus walked the earth.

      IF you say Zeus isn’t real, does that mean you’re saying there’s no God?

  5. misguide by igorance
    I find all of the religious and many of the so called spiritual laughable when it comes to trying to have a discussion or talk about the life of Jesus, most have no clue as to who or what he was and is, or the amount of information and data about him and his life that has been kept from the masses, 94% of all real truth has never been revealed to the masses of sheep, and most just repeat the insane mantras of the satanist and lucerifians doctrines and teachings that they themselves have been taught and brainwashed with, i can promise you there isnt one in a million that has the truth of jesus and most are not even capable of accepting the real truth because of thier own false system of beliefs, people who have been brainwashed with religion are unteachable in any respect and are completely lost in the field of spirituality, spiritual principles, and states of higher spiritual conscousness. It laughable to listen they are nothing more than satanist or the pawns and minons of satanist.

  6. Historical Apocolypse Now
    I don’t think you need any proof from the past to understand that right now God is removing you from the earth. Eat your plutonium dust and inhale deep the hot particles. You and your world are going into the Lake of Fire. You deceived and lied for selfish reasons, entirely selfish, and now it’s time to go into the great fire pit. That’s about what the deal you’re dealing with is. You can disparage religion all you want and curse God under or above your breath, as you are want to do, and for this there is Hell and suffering and agony for you. You frollicked under a Sun that wasn’t yours and you ate food that wasn’t yours and you never said thank you or gave glory to your Creator. You are evil and vile and into the Lake of Fire you go. You and all your little devil smileys will go into the Lake of Fire.

  7. Discerning Acharya & Murdock
    Acharya and Murdock in this article flaying Flavius Josephus’ account of Jesus Christ present a very scholarly dissection of his text. But in this effort, they build a case against the historical Jesus based on only one text well known, and strain at a gnat expecting us to swallow their camel. Tacitus, the Roman historian, senator and governor, also wrote of the trial of Christ in Pilate’s court, and other evidences exist also.

    They attack spelling, but it is well known that spelling variations were common in ages past, even in the early years of the English language.

    They suggest that Josephus, being a professed Jew, would not have spoken of Jesus in Christian terms. But Acharya and Murdock forget that Jesus was a Jew observing Jewish customs like Passover, and that Christ was seen by many Jews as the fulfillment of prophecies in the Hebrew Bible. Early Christians, in Josephus’ time, were commonly seen as a sect of the Jews, like the Essenes. Is it really that much of a stretch to think Josephus might simply have written of Jesus as his followers thought of him?

    As to the scarcity of 1st Century evidence for Christ or his immediate followers in the early church, one should recall the Sanhedrin worked to eradicate Christians, their writings and artifacts. The Jewish priests even sent agents to kill Christians and destroy their worship places. Then, the Romans leveled Jerusalem and destroyed much of Israel, further eliminating evidence of Christ and his church. After that, the ravages of time and inquisitions removed more writings and artifacts from the scrutiny of scholars and the people of faith.

    1. There are only 4th century copies of Tacitus’s writings, and he only mentions Christians not Jesus. When examined under black light the word translated as Christians had been altered and originally said ‘good people’, not Christians. You can safely disregard Tacitus as evidence. The only evidence left is Josephus and that is very debatable as well as per the above article.

      1. a historical Jesus
        Why would the Sanhedrin want/need to eradicate “good people” ?
        The Synagogue of Satan obviously did not like the followers of their
        accuser!

  8. Walking on the Water with Jesus
    The great amount of effort that people put into proving a supposed mythological figure like Jesus did not exist suggests that such a figure did exist.

    Jesus is referred to by many many documents contemporaneous in addition to Josephus.

    Were all of these documents a fraud????

    Come on, wake up and smell the coffee.

    A fraud of such widespread nature has never happened before or since.

    Furthermore, the claims are too unbelievable to be fraudulent.

    Look at the 9-11 scam.

    It was a great scam.

    Two jets knocked down three (3) buildings – come on now admit it three buildings fell as a result of two jets hitting 2 buildings.

    That is like walking on water eh?

    Or feeding hundreds on six loaves of bread and 2 fish.

    Jesus could not have done better magic.

    And, for a while, a whole bunch of people believed 3 buildings were knocked down by a handful of Arab terroriststs into 2 buildings and 3 fell down.

    So 9-11 was a very well co-ordinated scam far more co-ordinated than the Jesus story and the 9-11 tale is falling apart – a mere 10 years after it took plcace.

    There are old documents in India that prove Jesus visited India prior to his ministry in Palestine teaching to the lost tribe there – the Judeans many of whom are still lost.

    There are writings of in the bible and many many other works by people who saw and knew Jesus. Were they lying like the Media were lying about 9-11? Only governments have the power to create and maintain huge lies.

    The early Christians were not the government. They were a small powerless group.

    The power of their story – the story of Jesus – was its truth.

    1. Editor joe “The great amount of effort that people put into proving a supposed mythological figure like Jesus did not exist suggests that such a figure did exist.”

      meh, actually history proves that a monumental effort went into holding up the house of cards for your beloved Jesus as a historical character for which no credible evidence exists. That effort includes destroying pre-xian scribes, temples artifacts and people along with the Crusades, Inquisitions and a DARK AGE. Christians have slaughtered around 250 million people ([url]http://freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=19748[/url]) in order to hold up the Christian house of cards.

      Editor joe “Jesus is referred to by many many documents contemporaneous in addition to Josephus.”

      LOL, that’s completely false. There exists no contemporary evidence of Jesus during his lifetime. Not a single text that mentions Jesus was written by someone who actually met or knew Jesus. In over 20 passages throughout the canonical gospels claiming Jesus was famed far and wide not a single one has ever been substantiated with credible evidence.

      Jesus famed far and wide:

      “These “great crowds” and “multitudes,” along with Jesus’s fame, are repeatedly referred to in the gospels, including at the

      Matthew 4:23-25, 5:1, 8:1, 8:18, 9:8, 9:31, 9:33, 9:36, 11:7, 12:15, 13:2, 14:1, 14:13, 14:22, 15:30, 19:2, 21:9, 26:55;

      Mark 1:28, 10:1;

      Luke: 4:14, 4:37, 5:15, 14:25, etc.”

      - Who Was Jesus?, page 85

      Just the facts. It’s time for the house of cards to fall.

  9. Other myths, untouched . . .
    While it is popular to attack the myths of Christianity, and perhaps one other Mosaic Religion, the earlier myths seem above reproach, Like Abraham and Moses, one being a schizophrenic who traded child sacrifice for foreskin sacrifice and the other a slave who defeated Pharaoh with a stick that turned into a snake that he got from a buring marijuana bush that later gave him the deed to the Holy Land.

    So if Jesus wasn’t real, how about that Moses, King David and King Solomon?

    Oh? We cannot go there?

    I see, contiinue ridiculing the other two branches of the same delusion.

    1. Abraham and Moses are addressed throughout Acharya’s work and others.

      Abraham ([url]http://www.truthbeknown.com/abraham.html[/url])

      The Origins of Islam ([url]http://www.truthbeknown.com/islam.htm[/url])

      Zeitgeist part 1 ([url]http://freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2997[/url])

  10. Very good article. Why would a Jew write about someone else as a history using a modern made up name from old English Jeshua and then the mordern form of Jesus. In Hebrew the name is Yeshua and is a verbal derivative from “to rescue”, “to deliver”. It’s a common name in the Jewish bible.

  11. Not persuasive, Acharya. Read Bauckham
    Several weaknesses in handling evidence.

    Your aim to disprove the existence of a real historical Jesus. In order to do this you must look at the totality of evidence, not at individual texts. It is easy to critique any text, especially those of antiquity. The results of such isolate critiques add up to zero, because, ultimately, you achieve only subjectively plausible or likely conclusions. Nothing is airtight.

    So, you must assemble every piece of purported evidence of an historical Jesus, and consider it as a whole, and see how the individual pieces lead either to one conclusion or the opposite. (Your hypothoesis is a binary, either-or proposition.)

    IN considering Jesus “yes-or-no,” you have a wealth of writings from several directions. Of course you have 1st cent. Christian texts. 1st C. Jewish historian Josephus. 1st C. Rabbinic traditions later written down, acknowledging the existence of a hated figure. You have early 2nd cent pagan writings.

    In my view the most overlooked but persuasive evidence concerns the Desposynoi, Jesus’ large family, who are historically present in the NT, in Josephus, and in assorted pagan and christian histories. Check out Richard Bauckham’s book Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church. Thank you.

  12. If Jesus Didnt Live …Then What?
    I can only point out to you that if Jesus did not exist, then life truly has no meaning. Why would any group of men create a govt based on Judeo-Christian values ?? Tyranny and oppression have always been the main characteristics of government.

    So I will keep my faith and continue to look forward to return of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Don

    1. DS – If Jesus Didnt Live …Then What?
      Your “faith” is a tragedy; it is very, very sad to read comments like yours. DS – your “savior” is a fantasy. Too bad you do not have a real life, and are stuck with your fantasy, your faith.

    2. Seriously …
      Why would life have no meaning? Because you say so? What I think you mean by saying that is that you’re sad that you’d not be spoonfed meaning any longer and that you’d have to find your own meaning in your own life and in the world, but that you’re too lazy to do so. When you let go of the fantasy, the superstition and aren’t supported by fairy tales any longer, yes, you have to get to work, look deeply into yourself and vastly expand your view of life, reality, the Universe. Yep, it’s all on you then. Time to put your big boy britches on and hitch up the team.

  13. As always your work is based on research and solid facts. I admire your work greatly. I would comment much more (positively) but my English still does not allow me to do so (I am working on :-)

    All the best,

    Silvana

  14. WHAT – Your Priorities
    Dear What: Acharya has a great mind and I’m sure she “pleasures herself” by using it . Whenever I read her works, she “pleasures” my mind also, as well as others who buy her books. Mind pleasure is achievable for hours and hours, why interrupt it by going for a walk or watching tv? I’m curious why you are so curious about how people with great minds spend there day.

    I think you are on the wrong website, because you don’t sound like you can achieve “pleasure” here.

  15. Wulfrano-Faith
    Wulfrano, you didn’t finish your sentence: “When you lack supernatural faith you are done.” It should be “When you lack supernatural faith you are done BEING STUPID”

  16. Josephus hahah!
    Again, I say to you. Whatever religious texts you read, don’[t you realize that the ptb have had their claws into it? Every text from the Egyptian papyruses, the “translations” of the hieroglyphs to the Dead Sea & Nag Hammadi Scrolls have been tampered with, by the christians, Vatican and jesuits, NOT to mention the jews, the Hassidim Zionists!

    EVERY written record in history, as well, has been changed. All those things presented to you on a silver platter, by “officialdom” re. the 12 Messiahs, Josephus, et al, is to obsfuscate REAL events, and have you looking in the wrong direction.

    So if you’re reading these “official” texts, you’ve been led down the wrong road. You’re on a hamster wheel to nowhere.

    And if you believe what is written and servded up to you by church & federally funded Ph Ds, you can bet, they’re ROTFL at you.

    But have a good time, anyway.

  17. Is there “God”?
    My take on “God” (whatever that word actually means) is really a reduction in reasoning.

    Pretend for a moment that everything in the Jewish/Christian bible is correct, factually, historically and religiously. What does it all really mean?

    Lets go backward in time: Jesus lived and died; he was the son of “God” (whatever that word actually means); God exists and is the creator of our universe; God created an angel who wanted to be “God” (whatever that word means) and the rest is history.

    Here’s the rub: If all of the above is true, then there can be only one conclusion to this seemingly everlasting problem of faith versus logical, rational thinking.

    To put it as concisely as I can I must say that from an historical perspective there is more evidence that this “God” (whatever that word means) is an evil, immoral creator than that he/she/it is a righteous, moral creator.

    Why anyone would block out this apparent ‘fact’, from their mind, and pray to an evil, immoral creator is well beyond my ability to comprehend.

    I suppose, if mankind survives for the next thousand years or so, “God” (whatever that word means) will have evolved into something nicer than he/she/it appears to be now; perhaps our definition of ‘evil’ will change.

    Just an opinion of an old man who has seen and experienced much in this, our worn and tattered world….

    1. Joe7000 -a very wise man
      Joe, I totally agree with your opinion…but not as an “old man” but a “wise man”.

      We all know the “god” the blind believers refer to is an “old” not “wise” man who doesn’t shave, wears a robe-like garment (wonder who his tailor is?), and sandals, where he gets at the mall. This god hates women, loves to kill his children, as well as all mankind (with a flood) and other unspeakable atrocities. His believers say he created the world and told us how he did it in just seven days..but he didn’t tell us the earth was round, that earth revolved around the sun, and other facts a hell of a lot more important than the 10 commandments. Do you, Joe, know what species dominates the earth? The answer is: INSECTS…there are millions of species of insects! Not “man”. I wonder what commandments god gave the insects? They are going to survive for thousands of years, not us who were “made in god’s image”.

      If any humans survive the nuclear holocaust that will be brought on by religious fanatics, those humans will worship their new god, the cockroach.

      1. DSimone ~ Thank you for the comment…
        I like that: “Lord Cockroach”. It has a nifty ring of truth to it. ;-)

        For many years, Popeye was my hero. He never claimed to be anything but a fictional sailor man. But he fought for truth and justice and that was good enough for me.

        All kidding aside, I truly believe that when religion (with all of its trappings) has finally seen the error of its ways, human beings might realize that spirituality, sans gods, devils, heaven and hell, is a natural attribute of sane, healthy human beings.

        We have a planet that needs our best efforts to restore; we certainly have the means of destroying it. I hope that it’s not too late to claim our right to be called sentient beings.

        Again, thank you for the comment….

      2. The planet is round?!? That is definitely a “hell of a lot more important” than the measly 10 commandments. Oh wait… Are those the commandments that are the foundation of all laws of mankind and therefore the cornerstone of any progress toward civilization since?… and wouldn’t it have been a better “scheme” to just support murderous killing, sexual perversion and thievery… I mean if I’m Moses and I’m making it all up, then Rule #1 is: Everyone gives me all of their gold and #2 is: All the hot ladies are now my wives.

        Yes you laughed and you know its true logic. I hope none of you spout this stuff to your kids. Seriously, you gotta lighten up.

        Eventually each person grasps for flawed logic to support their chosen beliefs (in this instance the strong belief of not believing) and through doing so they go against their own personal moral guide. (case in point: the 10 commandments are inconsequential since we didn’t know the mechanisms of our solar system. Surely, you don’t think this!) I’m not judging or trying to ridicule. I’m sure I’ve stepped outside of what I know is logic to get a point across.

        The truth of the matter lies in the hearts of every human. We all have a choice to try and be good or not be good. I’ll live as if the deeds of the heart are never hidden and I’ll confess it until my last breath. Nothing else matters. All you do is talk.

        1. James, You forget one tiny little aspect of it…those commandments were around 1000 years BEFORE the mythical Moses happens to walk this earth. And that my friend is a documented fact.

  18. Your Priorities
    You’ve written a 30 page rebuttal before finishing the booK? Get out of the house, go for a walk, watch some tv, pleasure yourself. It shouldn’t take 30 pages.

    1. Thank you for your comments. As I specified in my initial paragraph here, I read the parts first that dealt with MY work, to which I naturally wrote a rebuttal as I was going along. I will take as many pages as is necessary in order to defend my work in the meticulous manner possible.

      Now I am reading the [i]rest [/i]of the book, to which I am likewise addressing various issues as I go along.

      That is what I do. I am also currently working on a 50+page review/summary of another important book.

      If you do not enjoy my work, you are of course free to get out of the house, take a walk, etc.

      Cheers.

  19. Acharya, your work in compiling source material in itself is an invaluable contribution for both general readers and students of the history and origins of Christianity.

    Your analysis of why the works of Josephus do not support a historical Jesus is right on for those who seek the truth over dogma.

    Many thanks for your tireless efforts!

  20. Josephus
    Personally, I’m surprised that anyone is still thinking the few lines in Josephus are valid. Some time back many historians and scholars have shown those lines to be later additions. The actual first mention of this one paragraph was by Eusebius in the 4th century. Tertulian in the latter part of the 2nd century did an exhaustive search of Josephus and never mentioned the paragraph. There are many who believe that it was Tertulian who created the paragraph.

    To put Jesus’ existence into a perspective Sandra Scham is a contributing editor of Archeology magazine. She is the editor of the scholarly journal Near East Archeology and a professor of biblical archeology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC and the Open Academy of the Foundation for Jewish Studies. Dr. Scham reviewed the film The Passion of the Christ in Archeology magazine for the March/April 2004 issue. After pointing out some of the historical discrepancies in the film and the problem of attaching biblical significance to archeological finds, her next to the last paragraph stated:

    Despite all of the much-touted and soon forgotten “stupendous” finds, the historical Jesus and his disciples remain elusive to scholars: The archeological evidence for Jesus’s life just isn’t there (emphasis, mine). (Mark) Chancy (an archeologist from Southern Methodist University) says, “It’s very hard to locate one individual, particularly one from the masses. Nobody doubts that Jesus existed, but finding evidence in the archeological record is really an impossibility (emphasis, mine).” (Page 66)

    Think about that: There is NO evidence for Jesus’s existence but NOBODY doubts that Jesus existed. In any other science, if there was no evidence for something it would not be accepted without a doubt. The rationalization that is often used is that Jesus had to have existed because of the effect that he left on the world. The fact is, there are countless names who have left an impact on human-kind and it is known that they did not exist. In Egypt, for example, there is the trinity of Isis, Osiris and Horus. Their influence began before 3000 BCE and continued well into the current era. In Greece there was Heracles. In Sumer/Babylon there was Inanna/Ishtar. In India there was Krishna. In Meso-America there was Quetzacoatl. Then, in the Jewish Scriptures there was Samson, Daniel, Adam and Eve, Cain and Able and dozens of others. Archeologists know that none of these personalites existed because there is, literally, no evidence for their existence and they are part of the mythology of the specific cultures. But, according to archeology, Jesus existed even though there is no evidence and that more than 90% of what he was supposed to have taught is seen in extant Pagan and Jewish teachings. Further, every one of his supposed miracles is seen in extant Pagan and Jewish writings.

    It is an interesting point that at one time there were many doubts about the existence of the Buddha because there was no evidence of his existence. Then, when evidence that he existed was found it was accepted. With Jesus, though, it is the opposite. Jesus’ existence is accepted even though there is no evidence of him anywhere. Why this discrepancy? It is because of political correctness and the Christian belief that they are absolutely correct.

    The question is then: Do all archeologists feel that Jesus existed? The answer to this question is a resounding “no.” There are many archeologists who do not believe in the existence of Jesus. So, why don’t they come forward and say something? There is one main reason for their not stepping up and making any statements of doubt. That is because it is not politically correct to do so … if they want to hold on to their jobs. In academia the rule is “publish or perish.” This means that if you don’t do research and publish articles and books you will lose your tenure and get fired. Now, the problem here is that if you don’t say what goes along with the current beliefs, you can’t get published. Hence, you’ll lose your job; so much for academic freedom in our colleges or universities.

  21. If TF includes interpolations, what does this mean
    Interpolations would obviously mean that an original text from Josephus existed. At the time of Jesus’ death, Josephus would have been perhaps a grown boy or in his early teens. Josephus lived in Galilee. He wrote about Jesus as an historical person, based on whatever perception the community traditions gave him. He did not write about Jesus as if he was a fantasy or myth who never existed.

    The same is true of rabbinical writings which, although written down ca. AD 200+, were based of oral traditions (similar to contemporaries Hillel and Shemai). Rabinnical writings called Jesus a mamzer, the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named Pantera. Also the Rabbis noted that Jesus revealed the name of God. So, contrary to what Acharya writes, these are traditions not derived from Christian accounts. If there was any hint that Jesus never even existed, it’s most likely the Rabbis would have recorded this instead.

    Don’t forget that Suetonius mentioned the Claudian expulsion of Chrestians / Christians as early as ca. 41 AD. Again, there is no hint in Suetonius writings or those of any others, that Jesus didn’t exist.

    And in ca. 81 came the Birkhat ha minim, i.e., a formal rabbinical Jewish excommunication of Jewish believers in Jesus. Obviously there was universal agreement that Jesus existed, and not even a hint that such controversy could have occurred over a fantasy figure. Thank you for reconsidering your weird theories in light of these facts.

  22. TF pure fraud
    Josephus was a Jewish general in Galilee in the decades after Jesus supposedly lived there. How come no mention of Galilee in the TF, when Jesus was supposedly the most famous Galilean?

    Origen discussed Chapter 18 of Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews at length in his book Contra Celsus, a book dedicated to proving the historical existence of Jesus Christ. But Origen somehow completely failed to notice the TF??? Not possible.

    What happened is that Eusebius came along a hundred years later and read Origen on Josephus and had a brain explosion – ‘not possible that Josephus did not mention Jesus – does not compute’. So Eusebius, the father of pious fraud, added Jesus Christ into the Antiquities of the Jews.

    Origen writes in Chapter 47: “in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus bears witness to John … [and says] disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ), …. Paul … regarded this James as a brother of the Lord, not … by blood … as because of his virtue and doctrine. If, then, [Josephus] says that it was on account of James that the desolation of Jerusalem was made to overtake the Jews, how should it not be more in accordance with reason to say that it happened on account (of the death) of Jesus Christ.”

    If “Josephus bears witness to John”, it is hardly credible that Origen, whose apologetic purpose in this book was to critique pagan attacks on Christianity, and defend the argument that there exists solid evidence and proof for Christ, would have failed to mention, in text laden with devotion, that Josephus also bears witness to Christ, if Josephus had in fact done so within this very same Chapter of AJ. Instead, Origen emphasizes that Josephus says the calamity of the Jews was due to the death of James the Just, whom Origen says was a brother of Christ in ‘virtue and doctrine’, not in blood. Origen does not make clear if this sibling relation was alleged by Josephus, but he does make clear that Paul did not regard this James as a physical brother of Jesus Christ, cutting out another major pillar of Christ literalism. And then Origen expands on how the story of Jesus is in ‘accordance with reason’, without, despite all his comments about evidence and proof for Jesus, taking this prime opportunity to note that an early historian, living close to the time of Christ, had actually mentioned Christ in the same passage that he is discussing. The supposed “evidence” for Jesus evaporates before your eyes.

    It seems to me quite plausible that Eusebius’ interpolation of the Testimonium Flavianum owed not a little to the need to explain this strange passage in Origen. Origen, despite later being excluded as a heretic, was one of the greatest of early Church fathers, precisely because of his deep knowledge of and faith in the Gospels. Living two centuries after the purported events, Origen accepts the Gospels on face value. In Contra Celsum, we see that Origen makes use of Celsus as a pagan who also had passing knowledge of the Gospels, which are taken as the primary source of evidence.

    Of course the Gospels are not primary evidence, and Origen sees that external commentary from Josephus gives weight to the ‘witness to John’. Yet he does not notice that Josephus also gives witness to Christ in the same chapter. This yawning gap in the Contra Celsum must have been a source of great embarrassment to Christians. Pagan readers of Origen could well have asked – If Josephus bears witness to John, why does he not bear witness to Jesus? The easiest way to deal with this devastating question was to alter Josephus by adding in the mention of Jesus at the appropriate point, where Josephus speaks of bearing witness to John.

    Origen goes on to criticise Greeks who wish us “to believe them without any reasonable grounds, and to discredit the Gospel accounts even after the clearest evidence. For we assert that the whole habitable world contains evidence of the works of Jesus”. He says if a critic “demands of us our reasons for such a belief, let him first give grounds for his own unsupported assertions, and then we shall show that this view of ours is the correct one.” Here again is perfect opportunity passed up to say that Josephus gives evidence for Christ.

    Key questions raised by Celsus are quoted by Origen as including “What credible witness beheld this appearance? What proof is there of it, save your own assertion, and the statement of another of those individuals who have been punished along with you?” In response, Origen says Josephus bore witness to John, but omits to say Josephus bore witness to Jesus, which would be a far more pertinent and logical rejoinder if it were true. Origen speaks of “a manifest proof that these things are done by His power”, ignoring the supposedly manifest evidence that a credible independent historian mentioned Him.

    1. Excellent stuff, Robert! Thanks so much for contributing. I may have to cite you in my Josephus monograph about those Origen observations. You make a great point. Origen is writing a book significantly designed to prove Christ’s existence, and he’s got Book 18 in front of him, citing the various biblical characters Josephus supposedly addresses, yet he utterly fails to comment on the TF!

      That’s another great argument rebutting Whealey’s suggestion that Origen knew the TF, without the sentence “He was the Christ.” I ask again, at that point why would Origen not actually state that Josephus discussed Jesus?

      Origen had the very book – 18 – in front of him. He has proved that he read it, yet he does not mention the TF. The TF is in the third chapter of book 18, close to the beginning of the book, so Origen would not have even needed to read far into it to find it. Why allude to the TF – which DOES have Josephus saying Jesus was the Christ – by saying that Josephus didn’t believe Jesus was the Christ? Very unconvincing.

  23. re:
    [quote name="Acharya S"]Excellent stuff, Robert! Thanks so much for contributing. I may have to cite you in my Josephus monograph about those Origen observations. [/quote]
    Thanks Acharya, you are very welcome. This material helps explain how and why the TF was later added.

    In the text I cited above, CC47, Origen asks why “If, then, [Josephus] says that it was on account of James that the desolation of Jerusalem was made to overtake the Jews, how should it not be more in accordance with reason to say that it happened on account (of the death) of Jesus Christ?”

    “How should it not be more in accordance with reason” indeed. Origen is asking here why Josephus did not mention Christ in AJ 18. If Josephus actually talks at length about Christ on the very page that Origen is reading, but Origen fails to notice, and in fact asks why Christ is not mentioned there, the authenticity of the TF completely fails any reasonable test.

    The Origen text, Contra Celsus Chapter 47, is freely available at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04161.htm

  24. Seriously …
    Why MUST we honor them? Who says so? What says so? What universal law says we MUST honor superstition, belief without evidence? That one sentence “We must honor them” is THE biggest lie, THE biggest pile of horse sh*t on the planet. It’s a statement of undeserved self-entitlement that should be burned at the stake. It’s part of religion’s free ride, that it didn’t “earn” except by threat of injury, death, fear, suffering and Hell fire, that it’s had for thousands of years. It it WAY past time for that free ride to end. No belief, no superstition, deserves honor and or respect, period. If it can prove that it lessens the suffering of all living things, the Earth, the environment, etc. and also makes their lives better and productive, then welcome to the f***ing club, but don’t think it’s entitled to honor and or respect and don’t think that you deserve honor and or respect simply because you adhere to a particular superstition!

  25. Seriously 3 …
    Wake up, Neo, it’s all myth. They’re all myth. And, most aren’t even good myth. Simply because you were taught something as a child and infected with fear about it, by people who had the same thing done to them in an almost infinite regression back in time, DOES NOT make it true!!! One reason people like Acharya write in such scholarly, pickin’-the-fly-sh*t-out-of-the-pepper, detail about this stuff is that so many of you are SO intractably, utterly brainwashed with fantasy and refuse to let go of it and grow up. You offer no evidence for your belilefs, but require massive amounts of detailed evidence to the contrary from writers who disagree with your beliefs in your little fantasy world. If you didn’t try to incessantly cram it down the rest of the world’s throats through threats, violence, politics, law, hatred, fear, etc., WE WOULDN’T CARE WHAT YOU BELIEVED! You could just be another retard sittin’ on a stump and we’d all get along just fine. But, you, Christians, Muslims, et al, just won’t let it go, let it be. So, by nanometers of dragging you by your hair kicking and screaming, writers like Acharya are showing you a better world, showing you how to let go, grow up and stop being intellectual and emotional infants regarding your silly little beliefs.

  26. God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood”every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwelling. —–science found that the universe had its start from a speck -The Big Bang they call it. that attoms know if you are watching them. and if you are not looking at them they behave differently. that there are 10 dementions maybe more. the fabric of space is stretching, it can be torn. the dementions around you allow angels and watchers to follow you and the empty space you think is empty really is
    full. Black matter holds stars and planets galaxies in place. to us it is empty.

  27. re: Jesus
    [quote name="Heather"]LOL, thanks for that demonstration of bigotry. It wouldn’t be necessary if you had evidence to back up your claims. So, Christians love to go around tossing their bigoted hate speech at those who are simply telling the truth and pointing out the obvious, like Acharya S.

    Nobody I know loves to be lied to and mislead EXCEPT theists. They are not interested in accuracy, objectivity, credible evidence that actually exists, or truth. Yet, they pretend to have the ‘moral high ground.’ It’s embarrassing. [/quote]

    Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God If perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you, For i see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity(Acts 8:22,23

  28. Whooops, so Ehrman (aka Errorman) didn’t even read the books he was criticizing as Ehrman’s grad student assistant admits that, “Ehrman did not even read the Mythicist books but farmed them out to his grad students to read and report on.” ([url]http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=25540#p25540[/url])

  29. Chrestian vs. Christian
    Acharya, regarding the change in Sinaiticus from “eta” to “iota”… by the 4th century the “eta” had undergone “itacism” (as it is in modern Greek), so χρηστιαν and χριστιαν would sound identical. If the scribe was not used to reading works that contained the word, is it possible he would have spelled it phonetically without making the connection to Χριστος ?

    1. Thanks for the intelligent question. If ancient Greek is pronounced like modern Greek, there is a slight difference between the two, as “iota” sounds a bit more like a short “i” than “eta,” which is a long “e” sound.

      However, you are correct that these two words sounded enough alike in antiquity that there were countless puns around them, as is attested in the Church fathers. These fathers, such as Justin Martyr, spoke of being labeled “Chrestians.”

      I would suspect that the original scribe of the Codex did not get it wrong, repeating the tradition of the day, which was “corrected” later.

      Funny you should ask, however, as I am just editing a lengthier study of this subject of Chrestos-Christos and Chrestianoi-Christianoi, etc. Should be published shortly, I hope.

  30. “It is absolutely true, in my judgment, that the New Testament accounts of Jesus are filled with discrepancies and contradictions in matters both large and small.”

    - Bart Ehrman, “Did Jesus Exist?” page 182

    “It is true that the Gospels are riddled with other kinds of historical problems and that they relate events that almost certainly did not happen…”

    - Bart Ehrman, “Did Jesus Exist?” page 184

  31. re:
    “[i]We’ve got to abolish religions to save humankind, and only mythicists and atheists can start that paradigm shift.

    Right now, the hands of religious fanatics are on nuclear weapons.[/i]“
    [/quote]

    We’ve already seen what atheists have done when given power! Stalin, Mao are 2 great examples. Unprecedented millions were killed! The quality of life and civil rights was/are low and ignored respectively.

    Europe and the U.S. were built on Christian teachings and dominated the world! A big reason we have all the rights we do is because of Christianity. We’ve forgotten this, because we’ve integrated the Christian truth of ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ (the ultimate form of equality) and the basis for modern democracy into our laws. We now assume that humans must have come up w/ that stuff at some point in time w/out God! Now, the more Europe and the U.S. abandon Christ’s teachings, the more they fall!

    I suppose then the you think Obama and his democrats are religious fanatics? Or Putin? They are atheists because they are not followers of Christianity (though they claim that to get elected)! I thought it was the Pope or protestant pastors who were religious fanatics or perhaps the Muslim Imams! Where are [i]their[/i] nukes? You seem to be just plain confused! Note I may never come back to this site so [b]PEACE[/b] to you all [b]and[/b] [b]I’m Catholic[/b]!

    1. Ill informed
      So you ignore the whole history of religious warfare to cite two dictators. How convenient.

      I hope you realize that if our country had not been founded on “the separation of church and state”, as it is commonly referred to, you might not have been able to practice your Catholicism openly. Go and read some of the early writings of the KKK and other groups. They hated Catholics about as much as African Americans. It is pure delusion to believe we were founded as a Christian nation. We were formed as a secular nation and that has served us quite well despite Christian attempts to hijack the system. It hasn’t always been easy, but it seems logic and reason eventually overcome dogma.

  32. Don’t get it
    Why do heathens call, Christians, for example, ignorant, but call themselves, “Free Thinkers” when as you can see, they just parrot other people? Unless your idea is 100% original there is nothing “free” about it… but it makes you feel smart? I find that hilarious. Good luck with that.

    1. Anyone who calls others “heathens” immediately loses all credibility and sets himself up as a mindless bigot.

  33. Atheist or Theist
    Well, I have read all that has been said here. The way I see it is quite simple. I am a Christian/Chrestian(?) but have not always been so. If you, the atheist, is correct and there is no God, Christ or Holy Spirit and therefore no afterlife; then, when I die, that is it! I am buried and my life has been a lie; end of story. If, however, I am correct and God exists, (and of this I am sure), then you have lived the lie and when you die you will come before that very God you have denied to be judged according to His standards. I fear then there will then be a gnashing of teeth in darkness! Whereas those who believed will be able to share in His glory, singing the praises of His name forever! At the end of the day the choice is a free one and it is never too late to change your mind!

    1. Thanks. Our scholarship proves that Christianity is false and is based on pre-Christian myths. Trying to frighten us into your cultic views with threats from your invisible Bogeyman in the sky will not affect us.

      Perhaps you should put your faith in Hercules, the son of Zeus, before it’s too late!

      Surrender to the Lord Shiva – or else!

      If such threats of torment are what convinced you, you are far too easily convinced. We are not interested at all in such a depraved “god.”

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