I have been wondering recently what Jesus was really up to. Did he know that there was no god or was he just insane. Was he an 'enlightened' human being trying to do away with religion in favour of a more just way of life, using religious metaphor to illustrate his points and being misunderstood? Did he exist? Are the stories about him merely a collection of stories about many different religious teachers at the time? Why did this story gain so much power and what are we to make of this influential character in history? Should we still read and quote his sayings? Should we live some of the good values he taught? Was he a victim of religion? What do you think?

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The first question is whether he existed or not. There are many modern scholars who feel he did not. All the evidence of his existence are hearsay at most. One thing for sure, his message and events of his life were nothing new. Almost every aspect of his life was a rehash of previous gods.

Here are some sites worth reading:

http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm
http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcno.htm
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jesuspuzzle....

I think the dominance of Christianity was greatly due to Constantine. He made Christianity the official religion of Rome, and used Rome's military strength to spread it by sword. He also had the pagan holidays converted to Christian holy days, and convened the First Council of Nicaea for the purpose of bring unity throughout the Church.

All of that being said, I think it is important that we appreciate the Bible for what it is. It contains some of the oldest writings. The original King James has some beautiful poetry and fascinating (though primitive) stories. Much like Shakespeare, you can't understand a lot of modern references in movies and literature without a basic understanding of its content.
At the moment I am engaged in a heated discussion in the Group Interfaith. If you can to plough through it all here is the URL:
http://www.interfaith.org/forum/origins-of-jesus-christ-9273.html

Here is one of my last posts on the subject. I think it will answer the questions here:

JESUS CHRIST. Did he exist? Well possibly. Christ as we all know was a title "the Annionted One". ""Jesus" is a Spanish interpolation of his name. He was Jeshua ben Josef, "son of Joseph the carpenter". He was NOT the "Son of God". In the sayings attributed to him in the NT he only ever claimed to be the "Son of Man". SO you said, there are no references from any other sources that are reliable to Jesus. Josephus "Antiquities" book VIII has a reference that is a later Christian fordulent addition. Scholars have concluded that. I do have a copy of "Antiquities". It is a large book. If Jesus was so signficant why were they only about three lines tham mention him. However they are forgeries.

In conclusion, I say that the bible is nothing but a book of fiction and a poor one at that. It is a most irksome read. I got fed up with it after Kings II. I had never read it before. Roman Catholics read only Gesesis and Exodus, just those two books and that is two books too many. I just finished reading Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons" and could not put it down it was so riveting. I had previously seen the movie. Yet there is more fact in that book than in the bible. I refer to Historical facts about the Roman Catholic Church. The "Da Vinci Code" is an excellent reference to factual history of the Church. It is just the plot about the murder of Saunier that is the fictional part of the book.

This is why I say that the Roman Catholic Church has been founded on a lie and a fraud, the lie being that there is a "Creator/God" and that fraud that the Church was founded by Jesus Christ and is the one and only true Church. The Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church was formally made the official state religion of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine at the time of the Council of Nicea which he instigated at when the formation of the Canon of the Bible was commenced omitting scriptures that the Church Fathers at that Council did not like. By the way, the Pope, Sylvester I was not invited and did not attend in spite of the fact that it was he who Constantine appointed Pope, the FIRST POPE of the Roman Catholic Curch. All so-called Popes before him were only Bishops of Rome.
I'm not convinced that the writings in the Bible are all that old. There are many older writings from Egypt and Greece that make no mention of Israel or the Jews and the stories from the Bible. In the ancient Greek legends the land around Jerusalem is referred to as Ethiopia. Perseus saved Andromeda from the monster in Joppa, Ethiopia and the two founded the Mycenaean civilization in Greece. Joppa is modern Tel Aviv, thirty miles from Jerusalem. Canaan was the land of the great Phoenician civilization which was crushed by Alexander and soon after the Romans in the Punic Wars. This, I suspect, is the source of the birth of Judaism and Christianity and the stories of the Bible. Pure fiction from a people that had forgotten their past.
I think that, if Jesus did exist, he was merely a rabbi regurgitating the teachings of Hillel who had come before him. During Jesus' time, two schools of thought were prevalent and both sides claimed to know "the truth," and these were the schools of the scholars Hillel and Shammai. What Jesus seems to be "preaching" against is actually not the Jewish religion, but the school of Shammai thought. This was not an uncommon thing to do during his time. I can see Jesus as being just a well-meaning teacher whose life, after he died, became a thing of legend and completely blown out of proportion, molding to fit previous religions of savior-gods. Historically something like this happening is not beyond belief.
Brilliant thank you all I am learning, keep it coming.
Wasn't it Hillel who is the origin of hebrew version of "the golden rule" that everyone attributes to Jesus as his greatest achievement? I might have Hillel mixed up with someone else...
I think the oldest version is from Confucius: "Never impose on others, what you would not choose for yourself."
The biblical Jesus was likely LOOSELY based on a real messianic prophet. They were a dime a dozen. He seemed more insane than normal ones. Paul, for all his nastiness, moderated the real Jesus' message a lot.
I'd recommend Zeitgeist, "the spirit of the times," which answers a lot of these questions. In brief, Christ was a personification of ancient astrology. A score of ancient gods had the same traits and history.

I personally believe that the professional clerics that invented Jesus did more damage to humanity than anyone who has ever lived. They locked humanity in the Dark Ages. The worst thing they did was to write "be fruitful and multiphy," around six times in Genesis only. We are witnessing the sixth great extinction because of it.
Don't listen to a damn word in that "documentary". It just lifts its "research" from other conspiracy theory movies. It's all false
Having read one of Bart D. Ehrmans books I would have to agree with his opinion, that there was in fact a historical jesus. But Ehrmans books are my only source on that. I find a historical perspective of the Bible fascinating, and would like to read some books with differing opinions on the subject of the historical Jesus.
Not sure what to think anymore. My best guess is that he was/is a mythological construct, much like the Greek, Roman, and other Pagan gods. There's very little actual history verifying his existence (at least from what I've read). There were a lot of "messiahs" living during this period of history - mostly it seems to have been more about the politics of pushing back against the Roman occupation of Judea - and hoping for the promised one to set them free, ala Moses. In my mind, the real creator of christianity was the Apostle Paul. It seems to me that modern christians look backward through the lens of his teaching to formulate the doctrinal basis for what today passes for "historical christianity". Paul's grasp of Pagan philosophy comes through in his letters. I've read that the average Jewish person of the day would have been outraged by such ideas as "eating the body, and drinking the blood of christ" such as is done symbolically in the Eucharist. Just the fact that Paul opened the door to the gentiles would likely have been seen as abomination. All that aside, I think Jesus has some pretty cool sayings attributed to him, but they're totally in line with what other philosphers and teachers have said throughout the centuries. on the other hand, some of his sayings sound just batshit insane.

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