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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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
So now you're more like an E?
4.
From what I've read over the years, I've come to the conclusion that that Jesus is a myth. I'm also in the circle of not caring anymore. In other words, even if archaeologists and historians had proof that he was a living, breathing person (whether or not he was the son of the god of Christianity or whatever), I would not give a flying spaghetti monster.
Jesus the man did exist, as did Mohammed and an individual who came to be known as Buddha. Their messages were "enhanced" and perverted by their followers seeking earthly powers, especially Christ's.
Why did miracles stop when science started?

That's one of the major questions at the heart of the debate.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du5wJWlHAVI" target="_blank">

From what I gather, C seems to be the most believable. The other school of thought is there was a person named Jesus, who was a Jew. However, if he did live, he was a Jew and believed in Jewish law. He would not have had any ties to christianity. Either way, the stories of the bible are nothing but stories.
The other school of thought is there was a person named Jesus, who was a Jew. However, if he did live, he was a Jew and believed in Jewish law.

Isn't this the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels?
I have come to believe as others, that Jesus was an amalgamation of several so called messiahs. Stories mashed together and manipulated….or outright fabricated by Saul/Paul to propagate "his" new religion.
Partway between A and B.
A man named Jesus probably, although not definitely, existed. The claims about him are, for the most part, false and/or exaggerated. He did nothing supernatural, but he likely did perform some parlour tricks of some kind and likely did do some wandering ministry work. Again, assuming he existed, he was the iconic faith healer, popcorn philosophy combined with simplistic prestidigitation to dupe the masses. Later, important figures in the church like Paul used his name and reputation to establish a church.
I go with C. There isn't a single verifiable fact about him. That seems a bit odd since he's suppose to be one of the most significant figures in history. It doesn't help that the earliest sources of his "life" were written by devoted believers or that the sources (4 Gospels and Letters of Paul) don't agree on anything about the guy.
Considering how hard it is to research census studies done two thousand years ago, this discussion is based almost entirely on conjecture.

However, the film Zeitgeist proposes the most convincing argument for the Jesus legend that I've ever heard. For those that haven't seen it, the basic assumption is this: Jesus was an amalgamation of dozens of other prophet legends that are themselves based on the pagan understanding of the seasons. During the winter solstice (around Jesus' supposed birthday) the sun reaches its lowest point on the horizon and three days later begins its ascent back into the sky. Sound familiar?

For thousands of years humans relied on this information to calculate when the winter would leave and the warmth would return, so it has been a part of our species' heritage stretching back far beyond the age of the Bible. Though I can't support all of the assumptions in the film, the first third (dealing with the Jesus myth) is absolutely fascinating! Even if certain details are wrong, the overall point is far more believable than anything people have suggested so far. I highly recommend it to anyone reading this right now.

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