Does it matter if a Jewish zealot or a self-proclaimed spiritual teacher named Jesus existed?

I'm not asking if you believe that such a person could have existed in the first century C.E. I'm asking if you think that it matters. Not allowing for any supernatural claims surrounding the individual, would you find it troubling or would you claim forgery or conspiracy if apparently legitimate scholarship or archaeological evidence pointed to the existence of a man named Jesus(of course that's the English version of a Hebrew name) in Roman-controlled Judaea around the time of prefect Pontius Pilate? Would such evidence affect your atheism?

Does it really matter? If you feel that it does, can you explain why and how?

Tags: atheism, jesus

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Actually, Jesus is just the Greek form of the Aramaic name Yeshua (Hebrew Yehoshua) or English Joshua. Because the NT was written in Greek, it entered English as "Jesus" instead of through Aramaic or Hebrew.

Thanks for this clearing this up, Craig.
Even if we could prove there never was a jesus (and there probably wasn't), the religious nuttery wouldn't stop. It's relatively easy to prove Mormonism completely wrong, but that doesn't stop Mormons from believing.
It doesn't matter... religion is a brain cancer: destroing wall between subjective and objective reality and dissolving of borders of person with injuring logic...
Yes to Christians as they have traditionally claimed their faith as a historically-based. It is only in recent times, perhaps last 100 years, that liberal/progressive Christians have turned to metaphorical interpretations of claims that otherwise seem so unbelievable in a 21st century world.

I can't see how the existence or non-existence of a historical character would affect one's metaphysical position. Historical research does not and almost by definition cannot say anything about supernatural claims. Similarly, even though I'm comfortable acknowledging that Muhammad existed, I don't believe he was a messenger of god.

Alex
Alex's Heresies - Embracing a Physical Reality
Like the Jews say,if Paul of Tarsus had not existed(he wrote more than 50% of the New Testament)Jesus would not be known by anybody.
I'm not sure we can say that Paul wrote 50% of the Bible (although 50% was written in his name - most of it pseudo-graphical).

In terms of understanding the self-contradictory theology of the New Testament, Paul is a much more crucial figure than Jesus (historical or not). The early Christian churches fought bitterly over Paul's legacy, with Gnostic, Marcionite, Adoptionist, Dualist and Orthodox Christians all claiming him as their own. Of course, once Constantine threw his lot in the authoritarian, orthodox lot, the other sects stood little chance of survival, let alone competing for new converts.

Like it not, the Bible is an important book. It has shaped much of the world's history and culture for well over 1500 years. There are still millions and millions of people who believe it contains THE truth. I think that if we are going to engage with our fellow humans (who happen to be theists), writing them off as deluded fools is not very helpful. We do therefore need to understand the Bible for what it is - a fascinating archive of the writings of a disparate group of holy men and philosophers, gathered together over several centuries. What it is not, is a history book, any more than it is a science book. If we are prepared to argue the science of the bible, we should be prepared with equal seriousness and rigour to argue the history.

Personally I think it unlikely Jesus was an historical figure. If he did exist he certainly wasn't the historical figure depicted in the gospels. Asserting this view, supported by real evidence, is a way counter-balancing the more ridiculous and dangerous claims of fundamentalists
Roger, I really find much at all fascinating about the Bible or the men (whoever they are reputed to be) that wrote it.

Recently I read Thomas Paine's thoughts about religion in "The Rights of Man" and I was left in awe by the logic of the greatest thinker of the American Revolution. Paine sets forth this observation; that all religions are premised on someone who claims divine inspiration that no one else has witnessed. That he in turn converts others who have not witnessed or observed these prophecies or laws, but who also go forth to convert others...

I remain somewhat in awe of this powerful viral delusion, but in no way am I in awe of the perpetrators of the greatest con job of all time

Today, I visited a basilica in Prague that was an extraordinary example of baroque art dedicated to the propaganda lie of Christianity in this instance. I was really left thinking about how deep and wasteful this delusion has been over the centuries of what we call civilization
I read somewhere recently that the biblical Nazareth has never been found, and if it had been in the alleged locale, it would had to have been a community of cave dwellers. Also, historically, Jews would not live in caves, so there's another big discrepancy in the so-called holy book.
I read somewhere recently that the biblical Nazareth has never been found, and if it had been in the alleged locale, it would had to have been a community of cave dwellers. Also, historically, Jews would not live in caves, so there's another big discrepancy in the so-called holy book.

Jerry, please see Richard Carrier's comments regarding Nazareth back on page 2 of this discussion. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts. Thanks.
Well, it does if you're living your life as if Jesus of Nazareth existed.

How would this impact the way an atheist lives?

Doesn't matter to me, because I know that he more than likely didn't.

If a Jesus of Nazareth(not possessing any supernatural powers) did exist, why would it matter to you? What would it change?
I am not sure what it was about the life of Jesus that compels people to believe in god (for me, the connection is a complete non sequitur).

Agreed.
It only matters to the Christians.

Pretty much everything else in the bible is easily debunked. The bible has near zero credibility and many Christians know it. What they want is for at least ONE story of the bible to be real or at least plausible. They're desperate to have a shred of credibility.

In the end though, it doesn't matter. If there was a Jew alive at the time with the name Jesus who liked to preach to people... then that's all it means.
But to the Christians it means everything.

Desperation. What a sad sad thing it is.

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