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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"Of course it's evidence that Jesus existed, Mykeru. What else could it possibly be? Tacitus, an anti-Christian, Roman Senator and historian from the 1st Century is the source. What else could this be but valid evidence?"

Hearsay.

"and that he was telling what "they said" and not what he believed. "

Double standard.
Fine, Mykeru... then you tell me... why would Tacitus have had the wisdom to accurately declare the accounts re: Hercules and Ulysses as nothing but "hearsay" (by repeatedly qualifying all such hearsay statements with "they said") ... yet pointedly did NOT do so when speaking of "Christus" execution by Pilatus?

The double-standard would be to do as you are doing, Mykeru, in declaring everything said by a historian as examples of "hearsay," should a particular statement of history disagree with your own view. Especially so when Tacitus pointedly identified one of the two examples AS hearsay ("they said" re: Hercules). Thus, as he has shown himself capable of telling the difference, why did he not use this "hearsay" disclaimer of "they said" at any time when speaking of "Christus"?

Why is that, Mykeru?

(I think you need to investigate what "hearsay" means. As another has already had to correct you here previously, just because a historian didn't personally witness something doesn't mean that any evidences he uses to write history are "hearsay." Public records, credible eye-witness statements, and several other means of obtaining factual information are NOT "hearsay.")
@ Khemin

I need to "research", Khemin? Why thank you so much for patronizing me, but considering your performance in this thread, I don't think you are in any position to mentor anyone.

When you report not what you have witnessed, but recount what others claim to have witnessed, that's hearsay.

So, what Tacitus is reporting isn't hearsay, it's even more removed than that as the people he is using as sources could not possibly be witnesses.

You can bluster, preach and patronize all you want, (or engage in idiotic straw-man claims that I dismiss all historical accounts or accounts cited by historians as hearsay) but it doesn't change the fact that Tacitus does not provide evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus.

"Public records, credible eye-witness statements, and several other means of obtaining factual information are NOT "hearsay."

You are absolutely right, public records and eye-witness accounts are not hearsay. Of course, you don't have either evidence for the "historical Jesus".

You continue to make claims for the accounts of Tacitus being evidence, but in the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, I don't think it means what you think it means.

I find it very significant that you are now not only misrepresenting what I've written, but misrepresenting your own evidence as something that it's not.

I guess when all else fails, make shit up: That's very saintly of you. Well, Saint Paul anyway.

And the double standard is obvious. You accept poor evidence, no evidence and misrepresent evidence to make the case for the historical Jesus, but won't do the same for Hercules. All the flailing about and pompous obfuscation doesn't change how hypocritical you are when it comes to your poorly argued, poorly sourced, poorly researched and, quite frankly, poorly thought-out assertions.
@Khemin
"There was only ONE supposed messiah named "Christus" "


1. ALL Messiahs were called Christus. The words are interchangeable. And there were numerous people that claimed, or were claimed, to be THE Messiah or Christ around that time.
2. There may have been several "Messiahs" or "Christs" executed by Pontius Pilot
3. Records of crucifixions would not include an honorary title of this nature. As far as I am aware, there is no record of a person with such a title who was crucified by Pilot.
4. There is no known historical record of a man named Jesus who was crucified by Pilot at around that time.

In other words, your argument fails miserably at point "a".
It sounds like part of what is being nitpicked here is whether Tacitus meant:

A) "The Christians say their christ was..."

B) "Common wisdom holds that christ was..."

C) "I personally believe based on other documented facts there was a christ who was..."

Setting aside for the moment the semantics of an ancient dialect of an ancient religion in its cultural context, which could lend a whole other meaning to the sentence as we are reading it in the context of our language and how it is used in the 21st century; let's set all that aside and give Khemin and Tacitus and his English translators the benefit of the doubt. Tacitus believes that this particular Christus is real. And yes, there are enough identifiers to make this not just any old Christus but the one executed by Pilate who the Christians follow.

Why does he think Christus is real? Because he referred to a plethora of documents and court records which he didn't footnote in his writings and have since been lost to time? Or did he think it's real because by that time it was common, accepted wisdom?

For example: How often does a writer or News Pundit or my favorite theatre composer refer to the character of Mary Magdalene as a reformed prostitute? It's become such a part of the popular culture no one questions it, sources, or feels the need to verify it. Yet it's nowhere to be found in the Bible. The Catholic Church arbitrarily made it up in the 6th century and quietly rescinded the label in 1969. It's 'fact' because enough people believe it.

Just as in 100 CE, the Christian cult had grown enough to be a decent sized thorn in the side of Rome. It could very well be that Tacitus just assumed their hero-leader was real based on popular opinion. It's not like guy-crucified-for-heresy is a far-fetched story.

Or it could be that he based it on all sorts of hard evidence which has now been conveniently lost to time.

Given the supporting evidence - or lack thereof - the former makes more sense to me. By no means a closed case, done deal, Jesus can't possibly have existed. Just that Tacitus doesn't provide much of a smoking gun.
I do not believe he ever existed. "Christus" simply meant "great one" not anyone specific.
Ta-DA! People seem to forget this point. There were bunches of Jesus' running around. Even the bible has them crucifying two at the same time. xtian-anity was created lock stock and trade by Saul. Who probably followed one jebus around and took the liberty of amalgamating a whole stockpile of messiah legends into one super zombie jebus.
created lock stock and trade by Saul. Who probably followed one jebus around

Actually, Saul of Tarsus even states in his own writings that he never met Jesus in person; only Jesus' ghost on the road to Damascus. Since the timing of the legend and Paul's letters have him being born right around the time of the crucifixion.
Mykeru : "It was to Hercules that he related what others believed... not Christus. "
Ah, "The Jesus Exemption": It's different, because it's Jesus. /rolls eyes.



The reason why "it's different" is because Tacitus' two statements ARE different... VERY different. Did you actually read them? I thought not.

The Hercules statement (that I went to such lengths to fully copy and paste together with the hyperlink where it can be read in its entirety) has Tacitus repeatedly stating exactly as I related: that this was what "they said" and not what HE is saying.

The statement re: Jesus contains NO SUCH DISCLAIMER nor any allusion to what "they said" regarding him. There Tacitus relates what HE, himself, is saying... that someone named "Christus" was executed by "Pilatus" and that his followers ("Christians" or "Chrestians") were exacting from Nero the most "exquisite tortures" for having been blamed for the fire in Rome. We already know historically that the latter statement is beyond question (Nero and other emperors did indeed murder Christians) and is an undeniable fact. The prior statement by Tacitus is undeniably linked to it and included with it... in the same manner and in the same declarative voice. Thus, Tacitus is stating both to be... factual.... historical... and he relates them as such.

You show ME where in this statement you find Tacitus declaring any of this as something "they said"... or afterwards (as he did in the Hercules statements) adding the disclaimer re: these not being proofs but relating others' beliefs. If you can't, then it's not a "Jesus exemption", now is it?

(by the by... I continue to await the many references and evidences I have asked YOU for regarding your false statements in just the past few hours [e.g., people only living to the median age of 30 in the 1st Century, Origen responsible for destroying Celsus' writings]. Where are they? *Rolls eyes!*)
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/393100/mortality

A pitiful reference, but on a few seconds notice I find that Britannica references an average life expectancy for classical Rome of 28 years. That is at birth though, and that may or may not have any bearing on how long we could expect someone to last once they've reached adulthood as infant and child mortality can drag down life expectancy.

Unless you were filthy rich and elite, life expectancy at birth wasn't much out of your 30s until the modern era.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy
"Thus, Tacitus is stating both to be... factual.... historical... and he relates them as such."

Just because Tactitus relates something as factual circa 116 CE is not evidence for the historicity of Jesus. Even given your interpretation.

"(by the by... I continue to await the many references and evidences I have asked YOU for regarding your false statements in just the past few hours [e.g., people only living to the median age of 30 in the 1st Century, Origen responsible for destroying Celsus' writings]. Where are they? *Rolls eyes!*)"


One example:
"During the Roman Empire, Romans had a approximate life expectancy of 22 to 25 years. In 1900, the world life expectancy was approximately 30 years and in 1985 it was about 62 years, just two years short of today's life expectancy."

So I stand corrected. You are right: Life expectancy during the Roman period, even for Romans, wasn't 30 years. It was more like 25. My apologies.

It's really quite easy to estimate life expectancy from different periods: You find graves, tally up the number of people, their approximate age at the time of death and average them. As in this study of the Bronze Age before the time of Jesus: "The Bronze Age (2,000 to 700 B.C.) folk of Northern Europe placed their dead in pits, sometimes with a large mound marking the spot. These people arranged corpses, curled lying on a side, men on their left and women on their right, both facing south. Archeologists discovered seven such skeletons in a storage pit in Slillfried/March, lower Austria. These Bronze Age peoples died at the approximate ages of 3, 6, 8, 9, 30, 40, and 45 years."

I'll do the math for you: 20 years in that period of the Bronze Age. If you don't take into account infant and adolescent mortality you are going to be way off in your expectations. Just because some people might live to 60 or so doesn't mean the median age was that high. In any case it seems unlikely that a contemporary of the supposed historical Jesus would live until 116.

On the church destroying the writings of Celsus, it stands to reason. First, because they were pioneers of not only book burning, but people burning. Celsus was a well known encyclopedist whose writing were widely disseminated. Yet with his work against Christianity The True Discourse we only know what Origen quotes from it in a refutation Contra Celsus.

You think all the copies of The True Discourse were mislaid? Should we check under the sofa? Besides, in that period before printing there weren't thousands upon thousands of copies that would have to be destroyed. If you think I was suggesting great Nazi bonfires of Celsus, you are way off. As in Theodotus firing the Library of Alexandria, there was only once copy to be destroyed for the work to be lost forever. Sometimes destroying a work only took not copying it.

Which is why the invention of printing, quite rightly, scared the pants of the Catholic Church.

If find it amazing that a man such as yourself that can make the most tenuous connections can't connect those dots.
I'll grant you the median age point... though not much relevant to the validity question of Tacitus' statement. As for the other... nice try, but Rome was burning Christian writings long before Christians burned others' writings. And there is no evidence that Origen or the Church had anything to do with whatever might have happened to Celsus' writings. You can't logically jump to the conclusion that just because it has been lost that the only possible explanation was that Christians burned it.

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