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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C. The bible is the only book in existence which gives an account of Jesus, and the stories are written many years after the alleged incidents. Also, the writers couldn't get their stories straight as there were quite a few contradictions. Jesus was never mentioned by historians of his era, so I don't see how his "miracles" and resurrection could be totally missed by such as Herotadus.
Eh, I don't know how you expect HeroDOTus to mention Jesus since the latter lived a full 500 years after Herodotus died. Unless Herodotus had (i) a time machine (ii) the ability to predict the future or (c) hallucinogenic drugs with incredible potential, it's not quite reasonable to expect how to mention Jesus, now is it ;)

Now as it happens, contemporary evidence is simply non-existent for just about any figure in Ancient times, let alone preachers and faith healers living in a province aristocratic Roman historians couldn't care less about. You'll be unable to find contemporary historical evidence for some of the greatest military threats the Empire ever faced (Hannibal, Boudicca, Arminius,...), so why would we expect anything of that nature for a scruffy Galilean faith healer?

However, if we lower our expectations to a reasonable level, we actually find that Jesus' existence is quite well attested outside of the Bible: three historical references (not counting the Gospels and Paul's epistles, of course) to Jesus in two of the most influential historians of the time: Flavius Josephus and Tacitus.

He existed alright. Whether he walked on water and was resurrected is another kettle of fish though.
Now as it happens, contemporary evidence is simply non-existent for just about any figure in Ancient times, let alone preachers and faith healers living in a province aristocratic Roman historians couldn't care less about.

Actually, as civilizations dating back 2,000 years or more go, Rome was reasonably good at record keeping. As was Egypt.

However, if we lower our expectations to a reasonable level, we actually find that Jesus' existence is quite well attested outside of the Bible: three historical references (not counting the Gospels and Paul's epistles, of course) to Jesus in two of the most influential historians of the time: Flavius Josephus and Tacitus.

For someone who was purported to have thousands upon thousands of followers, rock the religious world, and start an unstoppable religious movement, I wouldn't call these three references "quite well attested."

- The Josephus passage is highly suspect as a forged addition. It comes a full 60 years after Jesus supposedly died; a good three generations removed from any eye witnesses.

- Both passages from Pliny the Younger and Tacitus references Christians, who follow/worship a figure called Christ. Both are written nearly a century after Jesus supposedly lived. By that time, any of these three very minor and passing references could have been just taking the Christians' word for it without being concerned about whether or not there was a real Jesus.

That, or simply reflecting what the Christians themselves believed, again without being concerned with the historicity of Jesus. Christian writings had been circulating long before any of these three references came about and could have influenced the common assumption that Christ was real without anyone checking up on that fact.


Now, as you and I and many more here have pointed out, none of these references or the absence of evidence disproves the existence of Jesus. Personally, I do believe based on how myths evolve that there was likely a person or persons who inspired those first Christians to tack the name Jesus onto their god-man legend. But I strongly disagree that there is any reliable empirical evidence to support the existence of a specific historical Jesus.
Actually, as civilizations dating back 2,000 years or more go, Rome was reasonably good at record keeping. As was Egypt.
Which doesn't really matter considering the vast majority of those records have been lost over time.
Or have you got a record about Hannibal, Boudicca and Arminius or any other figure vastly more important than Jesus, stored up somewhere?

For someone who was purported to have thousands upon thousands of followers, rock the religious world, and start an unstoppable religious movement, I wouldn't call these three references "quite well attested."
Thousands of followers is not a lot. Especially if these thousands of followers are all located in an obscure province of the Empire. Not something Roman aristocrats were interested in.
As for how he started an "unstoppable religious movement", that's you projecting modern ideas on the ancients: they had no way of knowing that Christianity was here to stay so there's no reason they should have paid much attention to it until that become apparent.
Considering we have more references to Jesus than any other preacher of the time (Theudas, the Egyptian prophet), I'd say he did rather good.

The Josephus passage is highly suspect as a forged addition.
No, it is highly suspect as a passage that was added to. Only apologists with an axe to grind (like Richard Carrier) are so hyper-sceptical as to suspect it to be wholly forged.

Both passages from Pliny the Younger and Tacitus references Christians, who follow/worship a figure called Christ. By that time, any of these three very minor and passing references could have been just taking the Christians' word for it without being concerned about whether or not there was a real Jesus.
That doesn't work either. For one, Tacitus reviled Christians and called them a superstitious sect: the idea that he would simply "take their word" for it when it came to the origins of their religion, is absurd. And two, he specifically rejected hear-say (that's what makes him the ancient's best historian), let alone the hear-say of people he reviled. And three, everything he says in the relevant passage is something we would expect to get from a Roman source: where he lived, during which Emperor he lived, by who he was crucified. There's nothing that suggests a Christian source.

Christian writings had been circulating long before any of these three references came about and could have influenced the common assumption that Christ was real without anyone checking up on that fact.
Which requires us to believe that (i) Josephus and Tacitus (two of the best historians of the time) made an exception in their code of honor and decided to accept the hear-say of a cult they reviled and (ii) that Early Christianity's many enemies (like the devout Jews in Jerusalem) simply forgot that Christ was this made-up person, and they never used it in their criticisms.

Starting to see why this whole scenario is so absurd and why no historian takes it seriously?

Now, as you and I and many more here have pointed out, none of these references or the absence of evidence disproves the existence of Jesus. Personally, I do believe based on how myths evolve that there was likely a person or persons who inspired those first Christians to tack the name Jesus onto their god-man legend.
And that man was called Yeshua Ben Jozef, he lived in Palestine during the reign of Tiberius, was crucified by Pontius Pilate, was a faith healer and a preacher, etcetera.

But I strongly disagree that there is any reliable empirical evidence to support the existence of a specific historical Jesus.
OK. That peculiar position puts you far outside of any historical consensus...
"But I strongly disagree that there is any reliable empirical evidence to support the existence of a specific historical Jesus."
OK. That peculiar position puts you far outside of any historical consensus...

Evidence please.

Hint: Most sources that preach as emphatically as you do that the evidence for a historical Jesus is conclusive and indisputable are Christian sources who have a vested interest in proving their god to be real.

Among secular sources, the evidence is sketchy at best. Forged or embellished at worst.
Really? Just a couple of exceptions there: Bart Ehrman, Geza Vermes, Robert Van Voorst and the others I have mentioned are all non-Christians and don't just agree that the evidence for Jesus is conclusive, but they write well-researched books that tell us exactly what we can know about such a figure. And the vast majority of scholars agree with them, Christian or otherwise.

On the other hand, you can count the scholars who hold your position on one hand: there is Robert Price... and that's it.

Face it: you're supporting a fringe opinion.

"The nonhistoricity thesis has always been controversial, and it has consistently failed to convince scholars of many disciplines and religious creeds. ... Biblical scholars and classical historians now regard it as effectively refuted."—Van Voorst, Robert E
The Josephus passage is highly suspect as a forged addition. It comes a full 60 years after Jesus supposedly died;

A forged addition to what? That is when Josephus was writing! There was nothing to which to forge an addition until he wrote it. It is admitted by most that his reference to Jesus was embellished, but what can be attributed to Josephus verifies that Christianity was known to Josephus and originated from the followers of an individual named Jesus.
i agree, history is loaded with hearsay accounts, that just wouldn't hold up, in any court of law today. a good reference is

http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm

Josephus Flavius, is one a lot of people like to point out, but he was not a christian, and as they say died as an unbeliever. and yet, he seemed to write about Jesus as if he believed in him, and followed him, but only in those short passages that spoke of him.

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is lawful to call him a man, for he was a performer of wonderful deeds, a teacher of such men as are happy to accept the truth. He won over many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the leading men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again on the third day, as the prophets of God had foretold these and ten thousand other wonders about him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct to this day.'


so, why would a jew, and a non believer call him the christ, and speak of the ten thousand other wonders the prophets of god had told about him?

And not to mention that Josephus was born around 37 AD, so could have only heard accounts of this Jesus, puts him beyond first hand accounts.
That's why the passage is not thought to be entirely genuine: the part about the resurrection and "the Christ" are later Christian interpolations.

It is not thought however (except by atheist apologists who do not want to look at history objectively) that the entire passage is faked.
Jerry,
Herodotus lived 450 years before the jesus era. he was a Greek.
E. I just asked him, and he has provided no evidence yet. I'll change my answer if he decides to talk to me.
Agreed, its irrelevant. What matters now is do you agree with what is said in the Bible, or not. Bibles exist and billions believe in them, hundreds of millions share a very literal belief.

I imagine a lot of Christians dont need there to be a historical christ in order to apply the best of the biblical teachings to their lives.

What seems to make the most sense is he is a composite of Horus, mythras, and various others. We'll certainly never know.

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