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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Only Good, or Evil exists.
You're either with me, or against me.

Sounds like our last President, and his supporters.

Chris
When trying to determine the historical core (if any) behind the myths and legends that have grown up around a figure such as Jesus of Nazareth (or King Arthur or William Tell or Robin Hood etc.) how do you do it? Obviously as a first step you throw out everything that was added by later writers, things that were not part of the earliest accounts. For example with King Arthur you throw out Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot because they were not mentioned in the earliest written accounts and only appear when later writers embellished the story. They are obviously fiction. They were made up by the authors of the writings in which they first appear.
So using that approach what do we throw out with Jesus? What are the earliest writings we have about Jesus? The earliest writings are the New Testament epistles -- the genuine letters of Paul and the letter to the Hebrews by an unnamed author (not Paul) and a couple of others. The gospels (Mark,Matthew,Luke and John are a generation later.) So what is left if we throw out all the aspects of the Jesus story that are not in the epistles -- that are not part of what the first generation(s) of Christians (before the gospels were written) believed about Jesus? It turns out that we throw out that Jesus had an earthly ministry! We throw out that he taught, had disciples and performed miracles! There is nothing about any such things in the writings of the earliest Christians! To the earliest Christians Jesus was the pre-existent Son of God, sent down by God to be an atoning sacrifice, after which he was raised back up to sit at the right-hand of God forevermore. Not the kind of stories you would tell about someone you personally knew or someone you had talked to personally knew, are they?
So why don't people talk about this aspect of the historical Jesus question very much? Well, it is somewhat awkward. If you are a non-fundamentalist who is open to the idea that not everything in the Bible is literally true you are also probably someone for whom Jesus' teachings and parables are the part of the Jesus story you like best. You want to throw out the supernatural stuff and keep the teachings, saying and parables. But if you are a scientist and follow the evidence Jesus' ethical teachings are part of what you throw out as being a later embellishment.
So when you throw out the earthly ministry as being fiction made up by the gospel authors and throw out the supernatural stuff because we are modern, scientific people who reject such things out-of-hand what do we have left? Nothing! When we remove all the stuff that was obviously made up about Jesus there is nothing left.
It is rather doubtful that Paul existed. I see that a few jesus freaks have crept into this discussion. (CHRISTIANS ARE INHERENTLY SNEAKY WHEN IT COMES TO DEFENDING jESUS)

Lots or replies

Conclusion is: Jesus never existed.
Let's see, 2AM Sunday...look, just admit you were drunk and all is forgiven. :)

BTW, if you ever need a gig as a biblical ghostwriter, the dudes that wrote Revelation could use a little help with a new draft. It's already crazy scary and everything, but it could use a little more humor, a sympathetic protagonist, and maybe a love triangle to spice things up. You know, sort of like a James Bond movie--it's all about the end of the world, but he gets in a few zingers and some bedroom fun. Come to think of it, Bond was actually resurrected in You Only Live Twice. I never saw that as allegory before.
The name's Christ, Jesus Christ. with sandals that are explosives.
Guess that's why these guys look so afraid...

Come to think of it, Q was always giving Bond cool toys and Q was also the guy that wrote a bunch of the Bible.
The most of Q's bible writings were left out.
the jesus of the old testament?
C. Jesus is as real as Mithras was before him, and Horus and many others before that. Jesus is just the latest face, name and story on the core masculine solar religion that extends much further back in time than Christianity. Something like 80% of everything Jesus is supposed to have taught predates his teachings often by centuries, the Lord's prayer often attributed directly to Christ predates him by centuries, and of the remaining material most is gibberish. Most of the Bible, both old and new testaments is plagiarized from earlier sources, older myths and legends where retold with new names and faces to claim ownership of them. There is some wisdom to be found in the book, some poetry and effective language, but little of it is original, there's little real history, no real science, little that could be taken as fact and much that is deeply ignorant and vile. Perhaps real people have been attached to the roles over time, but nothing is actually known about any of them, they certainly weren't divine or worthy of the sheer mindless fervor they have attracted down through the ages. If anything the Jesus story is just one more refinement of the core myths that have followed mankind since the rise of organized religion in the first place, perhaps this time they came as close to optimal as possible to last for so long. Or perhaps simply the relative success of Western secular culture has maintained the environment in which religious status quo could be maintained for so long, if things have been less stable perhaps these current religions would have been torn down for the next big rewrite. Or perhaps it is simply much harder for new ignorance to make any headway.
I dunno. Fresh ignorance seems to take flight regularly. I submit for your consideration Mormonism and Scientology, just to name two extremely well-documented and yet increasingly popular frauds. And there are innumerable New Age cults stumbling about. Not to mention all manner of profitable woo in the paranormal basket.
Mani would be a better comparison. His story has a lot in common with our perception of an hypothetical historical Jesus, and his existence is not disputed.

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