Author Topic: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?  (Read 717 times)

bruce culver

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2017, 10:07:57 AM »
I read the whole article, and this would be my take away. From non Christian sources we have evidence for the following:

1. A man named Jesus who was believed by some to be the Jewish messiah lived and died in first century Palestine.

2. His death was by crucifixion for the crime of sedition  on the order of Pontius Pilate, the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from AD 26–36.

3. Some of his followers came to believe that Jesus had been resurrected. Some of his followers, though not necessarily (probably not IMO) the eye witnesses to his preaching career believed not only that he was the messiah but also God incarnate.

And that is about it. But I've never seriously doubted any of those things. Neither is it anything like convincing evidence that those who believed he was resurrected were right, that any of gospel accounts of his burial and resurrection are authentic, and certainly it is nothing like evidence that Jesus was God incarnate.
"The world is my country and my religion is to do good."

Relativist

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2017, 03:39:53 PM »
Mr. Miller's research seems to be limited to apologetic interpretations of the historical record.  He doesn't seem to be aware of why Christians were persecuted in the Roman empire, and why they constituted such a convenient scapegoat for Nero.  He also seems to think the solid evidence for Jesus having lived and crucified somehow adds credibility to the Christian belief that he was Resurrected.  He treats the refusal by Christians to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods as something more than a product of sincere belief (and questiontionable judgement).  I don't care if people want to believe in the Resurrection, but you shouldn't pretend its based on an objective examination of the historical evidence - that could suggest that you ought to revise your belief if you eventually discover the historical interpretations are flawed. 

bruce culver

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2017, 04:10:31 PM »
Mr. Miller's research seems to be limited to apologetic interpretations of the historical record.  He doesn't seem to be aware of why Christians were persecuted in the Roman empire, and why they constituted such a convenient scapegoat for Nero.  He also seems to think the solid evidence for Jesus having lived and crucified somehow adds credibility to the Christian belief that he was Resurrected.  He treats the refusal by Christians to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods as something more than a product of sincere belief (and questiontionable judgement).  I don't care if people want to believe in the Resurrection, but you shouldn't pretend its based on an objective examination of the historical evidence - that could suggest that you ought to revise your belief if you eventually discover the historical interpretations are flawed.

Plus there seems to be a kind of no true Scottsman fallacy oddly enough  employs by one of the Roman sources. He claims that those who are accused of being Christians who recanted and swore an oath or something to the gods of Rome should be spared because no true Christian could be made to do such a thing. A Christian reading this might say that this was a sign that the faith of the Christians was true and must have been based on first-hand evidence of the resurrection or something like that. However, almost certainly at that point few of those being rounded up were first hand witnesses of anything, and if one assumes that no real Christian would recant, then you will conclude that no real Christians did recant, but this is just circular reasoning.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it struck me as odd, and perhaps this was just rationalization on the part of the Roman official for setting many of the captured Christians free. It was also interesting that one of the Romans spoke of convicting Christians based on anonymous pamphlets (testimony?) as not being in keeping with the spirit of the times.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2017, 04:18:43 PM by bruce culver »
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Lucian

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2017, 05:27:40 PM »
I think Pliny's point is that if someone is a Christian, then they won't honour other gods or speak ill of Christ.  It's unclear what's fallacious about this.

bruce culver

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2017, 09:16:36 PM »
I think Pliny's point is that if someone is a Christian, then they won't honour other gods or speak ill of Christ.  It's unclear what's fallacious about this.

It's a No True Scottsman Fallacy. But. whatever, it's not a very important point, I guess.
"The world is my country and my religion is to do good."

Lucian

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2017, 05:20:10 AM »
I think Pliny's point is that if someone is a Christian, then they won't honour other gods or speak ill of Christ.  It's unclear what's fallacious about this.

It's a No True Scottsman Fallacy. But. whatever, it's not a very important point, I guess.

Please explain.

Gordon Tubbs

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2017, 06:35:49 AM »
Lucian, I'll certainly give Bruce a chance to explain, but here are my two cents:

When you presume that special rules, exceptions, and behaviors apply to certain groups of people based on how they identify themselves, you're committing a No True Scotsman fallacy. You're presuming that there is a "real" version of the identifier which you are comparing somebody against.

"A real Brit wouldn't take any sugar with their tea!"

"A real Christian wouldn't worship other gods or speak bad of Christ."

Point is: do you know what a "real Christian" would or would not do for certain? No. All you can really speak to is whether or not a persons actions would be consistent with what a reasonable person from their identifying group would or would not do.
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Lucian

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2017, 06:46:51 AM »
There are quite a few things wrong with that response, so I think you need to (re)familiarise yourself with the fallacy you're talking about.

Gordon Tubbs

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #23 on: August 13, 2017, 01:03:05 PM »
There are quite a few things wrong with that response, so I think you need to (re)familiarise yourself with the fallacy you're talking about.

Nice of you to specify. Thanks.
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Lucian

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #24 on: August 13, 2017, 01:14:04 PM »
There are quite a few things wrong with that response, so I think you need to (re)familiarise yourself with the fallacy you're talking about.

Nice of you to specify. Thanks.

Honestly, when there's so much wrong, deriving (largely) from a simple lack of familiarity with the matter at hand, that's about the most appropriate response I could have given.

Gordon Tubbs

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #25 on: August 13, 2017, 04:03:51 PM »
There are quite a few things wrong with that response, so I think you need to (re)familiarise yourself with the fallacy you're talking about.

Nice of you to specify. Thanks.

Honestly, when there's so much wrong, deriving (largely) from a simple lack of familiarity with the matter at hand, that's about the most appropriate response I could have given.

Don't worry Lucian, I stopped expecting you to reciprocate with any sort of intellectual charity a long time ago when it comes to educating the views of others, or turning interactions into teaching moments or exchanges of information. I don't know what culture or civilization you grew up in, but in the intellectual circles I'm familiar with, people offer forth reasons why they think somebody is wrong, rather than simply saying something along the lines of "you're wrong, come back when you think you got it right, I'll let you know when you do." Your response could have been along the lines of explaining what you think a No True Scotsman fallacy is, and perhaps explaining where you think I went wrong, or maybe - just maybe - considered some ways I could be right. But, of course, the most appropriate response was to simply cast my comment aside, yes? I'd be inclined to call that an appeal to the stone fallacy, but, I guess you would know which kind of fallacy I'm thinking of, since I seem to be so completely wrong with everything else I've said thus far.

I don't wish to derail this thread any further, so this is all you'll hear from me going forward.

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Lucian

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #26 on: August 13, 2017, 05:10:37 PM »
There are quite a few things wrong with that response, so I think you need to (re)familiarise yourself with the fallacy you're talking about.

Nice of you to specify. Thanks.

Honestly, when there's so much wrong, deriving (largely) from a simple lack of familiarity with the matter at hand, that's about the most appropriate response I could have given.

Don't worry Lucian, I stopped expecting you to reciprocate with any sort of intellectual charity a long time ago when it comes to educating the views of others, or turning interactions into teaching moments or exchanges of information. I don't know what culture or civilization you grew up in, but in the intellectual circles I'm familiar with, people offer forth reasons why they think somebody is wrong, rather than simply saying something along the lines of "you're wrong, come back when you think you got it right, I'll let you know when you do." Your response could have been along the lines of explaining what you think a No True Scotsman fallacy is, and perhaps explaining where you think I went wrong, or maybe - just maybe - considered some ways I could be right. But, of course, the most appropriate response was to simply cast my comment aside, yes? I'd be inclined to call that an appeal to the stone fallacy, but, I guess you would know which kind of fallacy I'm thinking of, since I seem to be so completely wrong with everything else I've said thus far.

I don't wish to derail this thread any further, so this is all you'll hear from me going forward.

Gordon, if I think a post you've made is very off-base, and off-base for reasons you could easily remedy, I'm going to ask you to take the time to better inform yourself, rather than resort to explaining things myself. You've declined to do so, and therefore there's little else to say.

As far as exchanging information goes, I provided some of that in my first post in this thread. I seem to be missing your interaction with it.



Relativist

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #27 on: August 13, 2017, 10:28:56 PM »
Regardless of whether or not there's a "No True Scotsman" fallacy in there, I question the judgment of those Christians who chose to die rather than lie.  That is, unless they were thinking like Polycarp, and wanted the fast track to heaven. 

Brian_G

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #28 on: August 13, 2017, 11:34:17 PM »

I think it'd be interesting to ask this question about other areas of history:

What can we know of the life of Muhammad from non-Muslim sources?

What can we know about the civil rights movement from only white sources?

What can we learn about the American revolution from British loyalist sources?

I'm not sure of the answer to these questions, but I would suspect that these histories would be biased and incomplete. 

Emuse

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Re: What can we know about Jesus without using Christian sources?
« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2017, 07:38:18 AM »
So we have to ask what would cause belief in the resurrection. NT Wright’s work is most helpful here. He demonstrates ably the difficulty of explaining a belief in the resurrection in this case without appearances of the risen Jesus, and without an empty tomb. ‘Resurrection’ meant a bodily raising from the dead, and the Jews were well acquainted with grief hallucinations, visions, subjective feelings, and so on. They had terminology for those other than ‘resurrection’. And the idea of a resurrection before the end of the world was entirely anathema to Judaism. So it would take a radical experience to really convince Jews that someone – most especially a crucifixion victim from Galilee – had been raised from the dead. They would not have believed it if they did not see Jesus risen from the dead.

Except the 3000 Jews who were allegedly added to the number of believers on the day of Pentecost and who all believed without seeing a risen Jesus?  And if Jews were that unlikely to believe a false resurrection claim, why did Pilate agree to set a guard on the tomb in order to prevent one (Matthew 27:62-66)?  The vast majority of Jews who believed (which included those who were prepared to die in vast numbers) did so upon hearing a message and without actually seeing the risen Jesus (even if he did rise), so what is being claimed in the emphasis above can't be true in any general / broad sense.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 07:39:59 AM by Emuse »