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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Okay, I think we're just talking besides each other at this point. So I'll restate my position more clearly.
First off, I do not disrespect PhD's in any way, nor have I at any point "ripped them apart". That said, having a PhD does not make you an academic scholar. For that you would have to teach and or research at an accredited university. That is the test of whether or not you are actually using your PhD.

Many creationists hold PhD's. And they review each other's books. Does that make creationism academically accepted? Of course not. For something to be labelled academic means it has to be associated with a university (and therefore associated with everything that that entails).

Ben Scripture (creationist) has a PhD in biology. But he does not research at a university, which means he does not have to conform to academic guidelines and he does not have to enlist his books for academic peer review. Therefore, his books are not academic material.
Doherty has a BA in history. But he does not research at a university, which means he does not have to conform to academic guidelines and he does not have to enlist his books for academic peer review. Therefore, his books are not academic material.
Carrier has a PhD in history. But he does not research at a university, which means he does not have to conform to academic guidelines and he does not have to enlist his books for academic peer review. Therefore, his books are not academic material. (Sidenote: Carrier tried to get his books peer-reviewed by an academic press, but he was rejected.)

See what I'm getting at? Having a PhD is great, but unless you subject your books to academic peer review (not simply by the guys who happen to agree with you) your material is not academic.

Doherty is not an academic. Period. You claimed that he was and that his book constituted academic research. That was wrong. Please, move on.
And please, stop this nonsense about how I'm keen to deride everything that doesn't have enough credentials.

"Why don't you try a different tactic? Why don't you spell out what specific points you don't agree with that you think are so amatur-ish with Doherty's book. Tell me why you think it is such a fallacious argument instead of why he as a person is so unqualified to publish his research and be taken seriously."
Sigh. Alright. I was going to have to go over this once anyway, so I might as well do now.

Doherty argues that Jesus never existed as a historical person and that the later stories about him that present him as such are based on a misunderstanding. He says that the original Christians proclaimed a Jesus who was a purely celestial being and who existed, was crucified and rose again in sub-lunar realm in the lower spheres of the heavens. He claims the idea that he had an earthly, historical existence only developed later and that the "mythic" and "historic" versions of Christian existed together for a while before the latter won out and wiped out any trace of the former.

There are three major problems with this idea:
1) First off, for Doherty's argument to work, Paul (the earliest Christian source, at barely 2 decades after the start of Christianity) would have to have been a mythicist and would have to describe a mythical Jesus

Paul explicitly says Jesus was a flesh and blood man. He says he was born as a human, of a human mother and born a Jew (Galatians 4:4). He repeats that he had a "human nature" and that he was a human descendant of King David (Romans 1:3). He referred to teachings Jesus made during his earthly ministry on divorce (1 Cor. 7:10), on preachers (1 Cor. 9:14) and on the coming apocalypse (1 Thess. 4:15). He mentions how he was executed by earthly rulers (1 Cor. 2:8) including Jewish authorities (1 Thess. 2:14-15) and that he died and was buried (1 Cor 15:3-4). And he says he had a earthly physical brother called James who Paul himself had met (Galatians 1:19)

Doherty tries to argues all of these clear references to a flesh-and-blood Jesus away, and isn't very convincing at all. Once you read his claims, for example, that Paul's depiction of Jesus being born as a woman actually means the opposite, you start seeing why this book would have never gotten through peer review.
Even Carrier, in his review, noted how this was some pretty farfetched reasoning.

2) The second flaw in Doherty's thesis lies in his claim that this idea of "fleshly" events happening in some "sub-lunar" celestial realm up in the heavens was a common and accepted concept in the Middle Platonism of the time. He never gives evidence for this though. This was noted, amonst others, by Biblical scholar Jeffrey Gibson, who pointed out that there was no Middle Platonic scholar in the world who thought this. When challenged on this point, Doherty said:
"I get the idea that you have interpreted me as though I were saying: the pagans placed the myths of their savior gods in the upper world, therefore we have good reason to interpret Paul that way. Actually, my movement was in the opposite direction. I have always worked first with the early Christian record, and come to a heavenly-realm understanding of it through internal evidence (supported by the unworkability of an earthly understanding of that record)"

Note the extraordinary admission! While he originally claimed that this idea was widely accepted in Middle Platonism, he later admitted that he only got this idea by assuming that the Christian records were written with this idea in mind. In other words, he engaged in a priori circular reasoning.

3) Flaw number 3 is his claim that this mythical Christianity co-existed with early Christianity for a very long time. Again, there is zero evidence for this (although there should be). Doherty tries to resolve this by appealing to the idea that Christians simply erased all mention of this movement after it died out (in other words: "there is no evidence for my theory because IT WAS ALL WIPED OUT IN A GIANT CONSPIRACY"). Again, not a very convincing argument, but it completely collapses when you realise that while Christians definitely burned a lot of heretical books, they always wrote long and detailed critiques detailing why the heresies were demonic and wrong. Even the smallest heresies that had long died out, were vigorously argued against in volume after volume of apologetics.
Yet we're supposed to believe that there was a massive heretical movement that made the most outrageous statement of all (that Jesus never even existed) and we're supposed to believe that they wouldn't have argued against this?
Again, absurd.

Now, I can seriously see why Doherty's work is the favourite resource for online Jesus mythicists. Compared to genuine crap like Zeitgeist or the books by Acharya S, the Jesus Puzzle seems like a sober and well-researched book. But it still relies on some very farfetched assumptions and speculation.
Doherty is an amateur historian who is not taken seriously by any scholars that I know of (maybe with the exception of Robert Price).

So, your point?

His books are funny to read though, I'll give you that.
Hey, you were the one claiming that there was on-going academic research. I showed you this was wrong, because Doherty's research is not academic. Don't try to say I'm merely dismissing him because of his credentials, because I'm not.
Although it's not exactly a secret that this guy is not "the authority on this topic for the past 15+ years". He has absolutely no credibility among scholars (except, again, Price). Carrier and Wells also take him seriously, but neither of them are Biblical scholars.

I could write a detailed critique of Doherty's book (yes, even I can do that) but I'll spare my time and give you a simple assignment; the exact same assignment given to Doherty by an actual Biblical scholar (and atheist) Jeffrey Gibson: give us a single piece of evidence that you can find any reference to Doherty's "fleshly sub-lunar realm" in Middle Platonic thought.

This really shouldn't be too difficult if Doherty's ideas have any merit.

Over to you. Make it good.
See above for the problems with Doherty's thesis.

By the way, there's a delicious irony present when you insult me for "not using my own brain" and then failing to answer my criticism but just linking me a wall of text written by your hero Doherty... and not using your ummm... own brain.
Hypocrisy much?
Was it not you who told me I had to use my own brain instead of taking other people's words for granted?
I think he existed. There are a lot of interactions with Rome in his story and the Romans were excellent record keepers. I haven't done the research myself, but I am willing to bet you could find proof of his parents journey for the census, of him coming to trial, and of his crusifiction. So yes, a real man - NOT a god.
I'll look into it. Like I said, I haven't done the research. It's interesting, this is something I have never thought much about - just taken it for granted. It might be time to reexamine.
A. Believed he existed, and based on what little I know of him believe him to have been a charismatic cult leader who was more than a bit off center about who he was and his mothers virginity.
A. He existed, but he was just another human trying to make it out there. Many of the bible's claims are false.
Purple Monkey Dishwasher. There probably was a minor cult leader named Jesus schlepping around Jerusalem around the time. Maybe he made a scene with some money changers and even hot himself crucified, the rest people probably added. He's like the world's first Chuck Norris joke.
In my opinion Jesus was an invention of the roman Emperor Constantine between the years of 312 and 324 CE during which time he ordered for the fabrication of the new testament canonical books.

See this thread for further comments:
My message is that Jesus did not exist but was a 4th century literary fabrication
Interesting point of view Jack. I commend your irreverence. However, I've read that Constantine was reluctantly converted to Christianity virtually on his deathbed for political reasons. The legend of Christ and the subversive activities of Christians are well documented long before his lifetime. But you're probably right in saying that the early legitimized church that dates from that time had a big hand in overhauling and remaking the myths that surround Christ, to create the image that we know today. That's why, to me, the portrayal drawn by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code rings true, and for the same reason is abhorrent to Christians. Of course there's no proving or disproving it, we have to go along with our own instincts here. My instinct is the gospels are far from the truth, and the revisionism described by Brown is much closer. I thought it was a great premise on which to base a mystery story.


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