Apparently you can't do polls on here.... but

Do any of you think that Jesus actually existed? What do category do you fall into?

A. Believed he existed, claims are false

B. Believed he existed, claims are exaggerated

C. Don't believe he existed

D. Believe he existed, claims are true (sorry had to leave the idiot category open)

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To see the model upon which Paul and his followers modeled Jesus just read the myth of Hercules. The Jesus myth is built around what the Greco-Roman culture at the time would accept - a mystery cult.
The division between Paul and the Jerusalem church was center around that fabrication - not that he was teaching to the gentiles but that he was teaching what the gentiles wanted to hear, that there was a new hero to worship in a comfortable format.
given the lack of any tangible contemporary evidence, i'd have to choose "(E) the jury is out on this one."

while i'm sure it's possible such a guy could have existed and if so, clearly the claims were exaggerated. the possibility of a composite character based on many real people is also just as likely as his existence or non-existence.
btw - have you seen this website:

http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/
Went to jesuaneverexisted.com. Great website. Didn't like the forum. Too many christians. Too much preaching. Rather be here. Normal people suite me just fine.
Jesus of the bible mirrored pagan stories dealing with his birth, life and death. I am sure there were people with the name jesus at that time, just as there are now but he was no son of a non-existant god.
I lean toward the "overabundance of historical Jesuses" viewpoint, myself.
http://www.egodeath.com/DefiningNoHistoricalJesus.htm#_Toc64390965
A. He was a probably something like a magician today, and he swindled enough people to have someone write a story about him.
E. doesn't even matter a hoot if he did. :-D

In all seriousness, there might have been someone who did some preaching around the region and then after a few decades had passed, tall tales led to a story that was embellished so much that a fictional character was created from a boatload of traits and thus why we see many parallels with previous myth characters of before.
I don't mean to rock the boat, and I do apologize, but I just got here and I'm not seeing a whole lot of enlightenment.

You did just get here and that's sounds pretty arrogant. There's probably a less offensive way to say it. I do happen to agree with you and several others have made comments similar to yours. I think you're asking "Why be dogmatic? Does it really change anything?"

Welcome to A|N, Matheus. We're always looking for a little more enlightenment.
I do think my call to attention was deserved.

Agreed.

...complaining about arrogance does take one away from discussing the argument at hands.

It was no complaint. It was just an observation. You're very correct in saying that it has no bearing on the value of your argument, one that I happen to agree with. I don't think you're arrogant, I think it sounds bad to be new to a group and essentially say "Hello, glad to be here, I'm astounded by how stupid so many of you are". Perhaps something got lost in translation.
One of the things that bothers me here, though, is that most Biblical scholars are also Christian. From what I've heard, the less-devout ones are that much less likely to believe in an historical Jesus. It just seems a little bit too much like the Mormons and their Native American "archaeology"; clearly there's a conflict of interest there.
I've just joined this group and have been skim reading the posts. So if I'm repeating someone else, apologies.
The Jesus Myth theory, whilst relatively new and still highly controversial, is gaining credence in wider academic circles. However, the overwhelming mass of academics working in biblical studies are, to some extent at least believers. There is limited enthusiasm within this group to seriously examine the historicity of Jesus. There are some exceptions, most notably Robert M. Price (check his website)
Personally I am agnostic about the existence of an historical Jesus (that should have been an option E). Messianic figures, wandering apocalyptic prophets etc. were not uncommon in the Hellenistic/Roman world of the period. There very well could have been a Jesus figure who perhaps said some of things we attribute to him today. But then again, perhaps not. However, if he did exist, any actual history relating to him has long since been irrevocably lost to us. Jesus (if he existed) bears no relation to the familiar figure in the new testament.
The gospels are not, and were never intended to be biographies of an historical figure (especially John). For well over 3 centuries only a minority of christians believed Jesus was god in human form who died a physical death on a cross in Jerusalem. Many, for example, (including I think St. Paul) believed that Jesus Christ has died and risen in one of the lower realms of heaven at the hands of the Arcons before the creation of the world by the Demiurge Jehovah. The gradual 'orthodoxing' of Christianity comes later and only after Constantine adopts its as the state religion of the crumbling roman empire does it become predominant
In terms of historical evidence (the bible is not history and is not written as such) there is really no evidence at all for Jesus' existence. The famous Josephus reference is almost universally accepted as a fraud. The others are either way too late to be treated as history, or make only reference to Christians.
Traditionally the church has dated the gospels very early, without any real historical justification for doing so. However, it does allow some christians to make the wholly unjustifiable claim of 'eye-witness' testimonies. This does not stand up to any sort of scrutiny at all. Personally I think Mark (the earliest of the gospels) probably dates to around 90 - 100 CE. John at maybe 150-160CE, or later.
We will never know if there was a real Jesus. We also should be similarly careful as accepting as real historical figures others for whom we have very little evidence, both biblical and non-biblical (e.g Pythagorus). I think Michael Grant has got his reasoning upside down on this

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