Let me be clear up front that I don't really have a "point" to this dicussion. It's just something I found online and thought was really interesting. The topic is the following verse, which is from the New International Version of the Bible (Jesus speaking):
"Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
There is also a similar verse, although phrased differently:
“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."
(For context, I recommend looking up the rest of the chapters, though Matthew 16:28 is fairly self-contained.)
Whenever looking at something such as this, I like to ask "what do Christians think this means?" And by "Christians," I mean Christians who actually read the Bible and care about what it says. So in looking, I found the following discussion on a Christian website: http://www.thechristadelphians.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=11112.
The discussion is pretty interesting in general, for those who are into this sort of thing. But what strikes me as particularly noteworthy is at the bottom, where a single comment asks if Jesus could have been mistaken. This is immediately followed by a post by a moderator explaining the religious convictions of the forum, and the discussion ends.
Unless we all conform, unless we follow our leaders blindly, there is no possible way we can remain free.
Major Frank Burns, 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital
Of course we know what that phrase means, but its actual meaning is unacceptable to modern-day Christians so they have to cloud the passage in mystery and pretend like there's some great metaphor at work here.
What the passage says is perfectly clear. It says the Kingdom of Yahweh will be established in the lifetime of his audience. It shows an apocalyptic Jesus who believes in an imminent cataclysmic event.
He was wrong.
Hi The Nerd,
"Really? Even the people who think Jesus was a real person say that most of what is attributed to him was probably a collage of several contemporary apocalyptic preachers, not to mention how heavily edited it all is."
Really? Which 'people' are this?
Do these 'people' include academic historians? Does this list of 'people' include Bart Ehrman? No? How about Geza Vermes - does he think this? No? Paula Frederiksen perhaps, did she make the list? No again? Perhaps Dale Allison then? David Dugan? Bruze Metzger? Roger Pearse?
My oh my, apparently the list of people who think Jesus was a real person is much, much shorter than I thought. It seems like most of the people who you're talking about say the exact opposite of what you claim they say.
Could it be that you're just completely talking out of your ass?
Having read pretty much everything Ehrman wrote on early Christianity in the last two decades, allow me to be somewhat skeptical of the claim that Ehrman - after having academically defended the apocalyptic preacher Jesus for over a decade - was suddenly arguing for the collage Jesus at your 2-day seminar.
Though it is true that the difference between Ehrman the scholar and Ehrman the popular writer can be quite staggering, so you could very well be right. But I'll stick to the academic position he's argued for, not the popular version he kind of likes to sell.
And I'll note the silence on the six others that I've named. There's plenty more of where those came from.
Hi The Nerd,
Alright. I've never seen Ehrman argue anything like that in an academic context, so I'm curious about what exactly it is he argued. Are the lectures available online or in some written format?
As for the uncomfortable corner, I'm sorry but you sort of painted yourself in that one when you claimed that "Even the people who think Jesus was a real person say that most of what is attributed to him was probably a collage of several contemporary apocalyptic preachers, not to mention how heavily edited it all is."
The fact of the matter is that that is not true: "the people who think Jesus was a real person" comprise a large spectrum of viewpoints, but the idea that Jesus was a collage of several apocalyptic preachers and that this applies to "most of what is attributed to him" is certainly not universal or even mainstream. (Even if I'm nice and give you the benefit of the doubt on Ehrman.)
You made a generalising statement about academics and it so happens that that characterisation is wrong; the view you outlined is not mainstream. I get snippy when people make bald assertions like that, especially when they turn out to be wrong.
And you're right to say that this has nothing to do with atheism, but we're in one of the history-oriented parts of the site so I'm not sure why you're bringing that up.
"I think it's interesting that so many non-believers seem to believe that Jesus really existed despite the fact that there is virtually no independent historical evidence outside the bible which documents that he was a real person. There is in fact much more evidence that suggests he is a collage of several other mythical characters culled from various religions. Therefore it's unlikely he said, much less meant, anything at all."
Those are quite some claims right there.
I mean, as John D pointed out, over the last few decades there's been a whole host of books (none of them academic, peer reviewed or well-sourced, but books nonetheless) repopularising the 19th Century ideas about Jesus being a "collage" of several other characters.
I've read books, articles and essays claiming parallels between Jesus and Dionysus, as well as Horus, Krishna, Osiris, Hercules, Buddha, Orpheus,... There's also books that argue that Jesus was an amalgamation of other Jewish preachers of the time (ranging from Hillel to Honi the Circle-Drawer to the Egyptian Prophet) or even figures like Titus, Caesar, Augustus, Vespasian and even Constantine. And there's many, many more.
Either all these people are on to something (even though actual academics unanimously think this is total crap), or they're consciously or unconsciously falling into the same traps when investigating history...
If you want to look -as you just said- "at an issue from various angles to determine what might be an accurate assessment of the facts", then maybe you should open a new thread (because it is slightly off-topic here) and we can figure out which is which.