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Forums - General Discussion - The Mark of the Beast

JWeinCom said:

Lulz no. We have first hand writings that historians are confident were written by Julius Caeser. We have nothing that was written by Jesus, and nothing that was even purported to be written by Jesus. We have letters written from the governor of Cilicia, Cicero, saying what a fucking asshole Caeser was, written while Caeser is claimed to have lived. The Aeneid specifically mentions Julius Caeser. As does the historian Sallust, who describes first hand interactions with Caesar. Those are a few comtemporary sources that mention Caesar, there are more. We also have coins bearing his image, images made during his lifetime. We also have plenty of evidence that around the time of Caeser's life, of territories coming under the control of Rome during that time, which is a phenomena that is hard to explain with a leaderless Rome. It is however consistent with accounts from Rome and from enemies of Rome talking about the asshole trying to take over their territory.

There is in contrast, no contemporary sources that show Jesus existed. The closest non-Biblical source is Flavius, a Jewish historian born after the alleged crucifixtion. He does not claim firsthand knowledge, obviously since he was just a wittle egg cell at the time, only that he heard of Jesus and that he was unfairly crucified. He claims nothing about resurrection. There's doubt about whether what he said had been altered. The Roman historian Tacitus mentions Jesus, but he claims no firsthand knowledge and is describing what he knows from Christians of the time, that their founder was named Christ, and that he was executed by Pontius Pilate. He does not say anything about resurrection, and cannot vouch for the fact that he ever existed, as he was writing about 70 years after that happened. The remaining evidence are the gospels, which were written anonymously, and at best were first published around 100 years after Jesus' death. They are not believed by most historians, including Christian historians, to be eyewitness accounts. 

So, the evidence for Julius Caeser dwarfs that of Jesus, since we have a ton of shit from his lifetime documenting his existence by friendly and enemy sources, and archeological evidence. Historians generally tend to agree Jesus likely existed, and I will tentatively defer to their expertise. But even to the extent that Jesus existed, it is impossible to verify his resurrection. No extrabiblical source exists for this, and the biblical sources are biased, not contemporary to the event, anonymous, and recorded after a decades long game of telephone. This would be sketchy evidence even if the claims were mundane and not violative of the laws of reality as we know them. But, even if your claim was correct, which it is not, then all you've done is shown that we should not believe that Caeser existed. Because regardless of any other historical events, the evidence for the resurrection is woefully insufficient.

Again to thee I say lulz no.

How do the roots of the Gospels compare to those of classical works? Is the historical evidence for Jesus Christ as good as that of Julius Caesar?

People often raise such historical questions critically, claiming the evidence for Caesar’s life is better attested than for Jesus’s. But is this really so?

Considering Caesar’s Sources
Tracing ancient history is about examining sources and the manuscripts behind them, as well as the nature of their content and claims. In regard to Julius Caesar, the key sources are his own accounts of the Gallic Wars, the speeches of Cicero, Sallust’s account of Catiline’s War, Suetonius’s section on Caesar in Twelve Caesars, and Plutarch’s section on Caesar in Plutarchs’s Lives.

In some ways, Caesar’s autobiographical account gives us more to consider than the accounts of Jesus do. It provides direct testimony about events Caesar participated in. Sallust and Cicero were Caesar’s contemporaries as well, so there are reliable outside sources closely tied to the time of these events. Two of the most important sources for the emperor’s life, however, Suetonius and Plutarch, write in the early second century. That’s more than 100 years after the time of Caesar.

Manuscript support lies behind these sources. And this is where things get especially interesting. Around 12 manuscripts are essential for determining the wording of Caesar’s account. The oldest manuscript is from the ninth century—a full 900 years removed from the actual events. The list extends to manuscripts from the 12th century. Cicero’s speeches have an even older pedigree. They have about 15 manuscripts ranging from AD 400 to 800. Sallust’s account has around 20 manuscripts from the 10th and 11th centuries. Plutarch’s Lives is also mostly divided across six key manuscripts that range from the 10th and 11th centuries. Suetonius’s manuscript is dated AD 820. Classics scholars build much of our understanding of Caesar around these sources, even though their manuscript traditions contain significant gaps of time.

Considering Jesus’s Sources
What about Jesus? Here we mostly rely on the four Gospels. Their production falls well within the Suetonian and Plutarchian time period. But even if you hold to the more conservative tradition that the synoptics were written in the 60s and John in the 90s, or the common alternative that the synoptics were written in the 80s, you’re still within 60 years of the events described. Contemporaries of Jesus and eyewitnesses of those events were still alive, unlike Suetonius’s or Plutarch’s accounts.

Gospel authorship is also debated. Conservatives argue the apostles Matthew and John are the sources of the Gospels under their names. If so, this is like Sallust’s and Cicero’s accounts in which the authors are contemporaries of the figure being chronicled. The other two Gospels are also traditionally tied to apostles—Mark uses Peter as a source and Luke uses Paul. This is a well-established tradition tied to Papias in the early second century. Once again, this contemporary link is what we see with Sallust and Cicero. Even if one severs those links with a less conservative reading, authorship remains tied to contemporary figures. Add the corporate and oral nature and role of the Gospels and we have good reason—purely on secular grounds—to regard the traditions we have of Jesus. Our sources give us a solid core for understanding him. Ken Bailey’s essay “Informal Controlled Oral Tradition and the Synoptic Gospels,” James Dunn’s Jesus Remembered, my own and Robert Webb’s edited work Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus, and Robert McIver’s Memory, Jesus, and the Synoptic Gospels make this case in detail.

What about the manuscripts? Here the New Testament is far superior to its classical companions. Our earliest manuscripts start appearing within decades of the writing. The fragment p52 is dated around AD 125. It only has a few portions of John 18, but it starts a trail that has full manuscripts of the Gospels appearing by the fourth century. The number of Greek manuscripts we have of the New Testament up to the time of the printing press is more than 5,800. The wording of the New Testament, including the Gospels, is extremely solid. Unclear spots often appear with an “or” note in Bible margins that record such differences. Yet none of those differences affects any core doctrinal teaching of Christianity. The only thing affected is how many verses make that teaching point.

So we can see the Gospels compare favorably to the classics in terms of what the sources say about Jesus and Caesar. If such sourcing works for the classics and the study of Caesar, it should work for Jesus as well.

Believing the Best Sources
The nature of the claims tied to Jesus often gets in the way of such an assessment. Many hesitate to see Jesus in the same light as Caesar since the Gospel sources testify that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and performed unusual signs and wonders to validate his claim.

But Jesus had such a big public reputation that a wide array of other sources make similar testimony about the dispute surrounding Jesus’s work. This is beyond dispute and something most don’t think about. Even sources tied to his opponents make this testimony. Jewish sources report the Jewish reaction to Jesus and reveal they believed his miracles were sourced in malevolent power. We see the same thing reported in the synoptic Gospels (Matt. 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15). In Justin Martyr’s second-century debate with Trypho, Trypho argues Jesus was a magician (Ag. Trypho 69.7). Similar charges appear in the Talmud, where he is called a sorcerer (b. Sanh 43a). This is significant since it demonstrates no one was arguing that the accounts of Jesus’s actions were fabricated or mythical. An argument so popular today (partly because of our distance to the events) isn’t even made by ancients in their public discussion of Jesus.

So where does this leave us? It forces us to accept the presentation of Jesus in the Gospels as part of the ancient story. It shows us Christ’s story is just as well attested as Caesar’s. You can accept or deny claims made about Jesus in the Gospels, but you can’t pretend they were never made. If the sources for Caesar are good enough for classicists to study and accept, then we should also seriously assess the core descriptions of Jesus’s life from the sources closest to him.

If we believe what the best sources say about Julius Caesar, then we should believe what the best sources say about Jesus Christ.

Source: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/sources-for-caesar-and-jesus-compared/

Regarding his resurrection, the argument is simple. Why would people follow a dead man who claimed to be God and who claimed to rise from the dead, and be martyred for it? It's possible to say that people are gullible, but to the point of giving their lives, something greater had to have happened, and that's why the resurrection and the pentacost make perfect sense if you're honest.

But why the lulz? Are you so filled with conceit in your own ideas that you think they are incontestable? You will lose in the end.

Edit: Added a table for reference

Edit:

Added another excellent commentary on Quora: https://kevinschristianity.quora.com/Historical-Sources-for-Jesus

Last edited by padib - on 24 January 2022

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JWeinCom said:
sundin13 said:

You are introducing your own contexts into the scripture. There is no requirement for decomposition that I see in the scripture. It only states that there was a wound that looked to be fatal, but had healed. Further, it is impossible to state for certain how literal this is to be. 

Looking for interpretations of this verse, the first I found speculated that this is a reference to the fall and rebuild of the Roman Empire.

I'm not sure what you are trying to imply by bringing up the further context implying that this individual is a leader of a region of the world, even assuming that this inference is true. And btw, going by the contexts you provided, it is not necessary for this individual to be a leader of a region of the world. This individual could be bestowed power, or raise a non-state army (ala terrorist groups), or further, this could be a metaphor and not be meant literally. Perhaps "war" is not a literal war of armies, but a spiritual or ideological conflict.

Actually, not only is there no requirement for decomposition, if the account was literal, there would not be any significant decomposition. The scripture claims he was killed and returned three days later. If his return was bodily (debateable), it would not yet have decomposed, which tends to take several weeks if, as the Bible claims, he was in a covered area. 

Decomposition was not in reference to Christ but to the antichrist, as a possible example of how his resurrection would be astonishing.

Sundin was saying that people have near-death experiences all the time. I was giving him an example of a corpse that is obviously dead, such as one that would have decomposed, to explain why people would be astonished by the miracle prophecised.



I think he whole thing was fabricated so all these big corps would profit immensely from the vaccines. Even the world bank is involved. Why is it there is no proper investigtion to hold accountable those who started the virus ? You'd think nations would be demanding an explanation and compensation/



This reminds me of when Republicans would claim Obama was the antichrist and some other shit during his presidency.



KratosLives said:

I think he whole thing was fabricated so all these big corps would profit immensely from the vaccines.

On the lists of companies with highest revenue each year, pharmaceutical companies have always been found among the highest each year, long before this started.

Secret board meeting:

Boss: "What was our revenue last fiscal quarter?"
Lackey: "17 Billion, sir."
Boss: "Only 17 Billion? We need more. Any ideas?"
Lackey: "If we started a global pandemic, we could increase our quarterly revenue to 24 Billion"
Boss: "8 extra billion, and all we have to do is destroy the world? Get right on it Geves!"
Lackey: "Yes sir!"

KratosLives said:

Why is it there is no proper investigtion to hold accountable those who started the virus ? You'd think nations would be demanding an explanation and compensation

They have been, and there are several ongoing investigations.
There have been hundreds of corona viruses before, and the first one was reported nearly one hundred years ago. Though it was around 1960 that scientists began to realize that the previous ones were related.
They predominantly originate from animals, but few are able to infect humans. Some can, like SARS. And with viruses that originate from animals, there's no way to really get a definitive answer to which animal and which person got infected first.

Also, let's keep further Covid discussion in the Covid thread: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Discussion Thread (vgchartz.com)

Last edited by Hiku - on 24 January 2022

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the-pi-guy said:

>He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead


You aren't supposed to get a vaccine in your right hand or forehead.

Unless you think the Bible is wrong about this?

Will an Implanted Microchip Replace Cards as Vaccine Passports? | Snopes.com

2:48 - Shows the implant.

Would left hand break the prophecy?

At least it's only optional like the vax. But then there was that change to a mandate thing.

Hiku said:
KratosLives said:

I think he whole thing was fabricated so all these big corps would profit immensely from the vaccines.

On the lists of companies with highest revenue each year, pharmaceutical companies have always been found among the highest each year, long before this started.

Secret board meeting:

Boss: "What was our revenue last fiscal quarter?"
Lackey: "17 Billion, sir."
Boss: "Only 17 Billion? We need more. Any ideas?"
Lackey: "If we started a global pandemic, we could increase our quarterly revenue to 24 Billion"
Boss: "8 extra billion, and all we have to do is destroy the world? Get right on it Geves!"
Lackey: "Yes sir!"

KratosLives said:

Why is it there is no proper investigtion to hold accountable those who started the virus ? You'd think nations would be demanding an explanation and compensation

They have been, and there are several ongoing investigations.
There have been hundreds of corona viruses before, and the first one was reported nearly one hundred years ago. Though it was around 1960 that scientists began to realize that the previous ones were related.
They predominantly originate from animals, but few are able to infect humans. Some can, like SARS. And with viruses that originate from animals, there's no way to really get a definitive answer to which animal and which person got infected first.

Also, let's keep further Covid discussion in the Covid thread: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Discussion Thread (vgchartz.com)

I'm skeptical that Matt Groening was the first to think something like this up. Even if he did, why was he given a platform to share it?

Last edited by EricHiggin - on 24 January 2022

EricHiggin said:

I'm skeptical that Matt Groening was the first to think something like this up. Even if he did, why was he given a platform to share it?

Simpsons predicted everything. They're the real Nostradamus.



Hiku said:
EricHiggin said:

I'm skeptical that Matt Groening was the first to think something like this up. Even if he did, why was he given a platform to share it?

Simpsons predicted everything. They're the real Nostradamus.

Matt Groening and Mike Judge. There's something about cartoons and foresight. Judge went 'Resurrections' with Idiocracy though.



padib said:
JWeinCom said:

Lulz no. We have first hand writings that historians are confident were written by Julius Caeser. We have nothing that was written by Jesus, and nothing that was even purported to be written by Jesus. We have letters written from the governor of Cilicia, Cicero, saying what a fucking asshole Caeser was, written while Caeser is claimed to have lived. The Aeneid specifically mentions Julius Caeser. As does the historian Sallust, who describes first hand interactions with Caesar. Those are a few comtemporary sources that mention Caesar, there are more. We also have coins bearing his image, images made during his lifetime. We also have plenty of evidence that around the time of Caeser's life, of territories coming under the control of Rome during that time, which is a phenomena that is hard to explain with a leaderless Rome. It is however consistent with accounts from Rome and from enemies of Rome talking about the asshole trying to take over their territory.

There is in contrast, no contemporary sources that show Jesus existed. The closest non-Biblical source is Flavius, a Jewish historian born after the alleged crucifixtion. He does not claim firsthand knowledge, obviously since he was just a wittle egg cell at the time, only that he heard of Jesus and that he was unfairly crucified. He claims nothing about resurrection. There's doubt about whether what he said had been altered. The Roman historian Tacitus mentions Jesus, but he claims no firsthand knowledge and is describing what he knows from Christians of the time, that their founder was named Christ, and that he was executed by Pontius Pilate. He does not say anything about resurrection, and cannot vouch for the fact that he ever existed, as he was writing about 70 years after that happened. The remaining evidence are the gospels, which were written anonymously, and at best were first published around 100 years after Jesus' death. They are not believed by most historians, including Christian historians, to be eyewitness accounts. 

So, the evidence for Julius Caeser dwarfs that of Jesus, since we have a ton of shit from his lifetime documenting his existence by friendly and enemy sources, and archeological evidence. Historians generally tend to agree Jesus likely existed, and I will tentatively defer to their expertise. But even to the extent that Jesus existed, it is impossible to verify his resurrection. No extrabiblical source exists for this, and the biblical sources are biased, not contemporary to the event, anonymous, and recorded after a decades long game of telephone. This would be sketchy evidence even if the claims were mundane and not violative of the laws of reality as we know them. But, even if your claim was correct, which it is not, then all you've done is shown that we should not believe that Caeser existed. Because regardless of any other historical events, the evidence for the resurrection is woefully insufficient.

Again to thee I say lulz no.

How do the roots of the Gospels compare to those of classical works? Is the historical evidence for Jesus Christ as good as that of Julius Caesar?

People often raise such historical questions critically, claiming the evidence for Caesar’s life is better attested than for Jesus’s. But is this really so?

Considering Caesar’s Sources
Tracing ancient history is about examining sources and the manuscripts behind them, as well as the nature of their content and claims. In regard to Julius Caesar, the key sources are his own accounts of the Gallic Wars, the speeches of Cicero, Sallust’s account of Catiline’s War, Suetonius’s section on Caesar in Twelve Caesars, and Plutarch’s section on Caesar in Plutarchs’s Lives.

In some ways, Caesar’s autobiographical account gives us more to consider than the accounts of Jesus do. It provides direct testimony about events Caesar participated in. Sallust and Cicero were Caesar’s contemporaries as well, so there are reliable outside sources closely tied to the time of these events. Two of the most important sources for the emperor’s life, however, Suetonius and Plutarch, write in the early second century. That’s more than 100 years after the time of Caesar.

Manuscript support lies behind these sources. And this is where things get especially interesting. Around 12 manuscripts are essential for determining the wording of Caesar’s account. The oldest manuscript is from the ninth century—a full 900 years removed from the actual events. The list extends to manuscripts from the 12th century. Cicero’s speeches have an even older pedigree. They have about 15 manuscripts ranging from AD 400 to 800. Sallust’s account has around 20 manuscripts from the 10th and 11th centuries. Plutarch’s Lives is also mostly divided across six key manuscripts that range from the 10th and 11th centuries. Suetonius’s manuscript is dated AD 820. Classics scholars build much of our understanding of Caesar around these sources, even though their manuscript traditions contain significant gaps of time.

Considering Jesus’s Sources
What about Jesus? Here we mostly rely on the four Gospels. Their production falls well within the Suetonian and Plutarchian time period. But even if you hold to the more conservative tradition that the synoptics were written in the 60s and John in the 90s, or the common alternative that the synoptics were written in the 80s, you’re still within 60 years of the events described. Contemporaries of Jesus and eyewitnesses of those events were still alive, unlike Suetonius’s or Plutarch’s accounts.

Gospel authorship is also debated. Conservatives argue the apostles Matthew and John are the sources of the Gospels under their names. If so, this is like Sallust’s and Cicero’s accounts in which the authors are contemporaries of the figure being chronicled. The other two Gospels are also traditionally tied to apostles—Mark uses Peter as a source and Luke uses Paul. This is a well-established tradition tied to Papias in the early second century. Once again, this contemporary link is what we see with Sallust and Cicero. Even if one severs those links with a less conservative reading, authorship remains tied to contemporary figures. Add the corporate and oral nature and role of the Gospels and we have good reason—purely on secular grounds—to regard the traditions we have of Jesus. Our sources give us a solid core for understanding him. Ken Bailey’s essay “Informal Controlled Oral Tradition and the Synoptic Gospels,” James Dunn’s Jesus Remembered, my own and Robert Webb’s edited work Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus, and Robert McIver’s Memory, Jesus, and the Synoptic Gospels make this case in detail.

What about the manuscripts? Here the New Testament is far superior to its classical companions. Our earliest manuscripts start appearing within decades of the writing. The fragment p52 is dated around AD 125. It only has a few portions of John 18, but it starts a trail that has full manuscripts of the Gospels appearing by the fourth century. The number of Greek manuscripts we have of the New Testament up to the time of the printing press is more than 5,800. The wording of the New Testament, including the Gospels, is extremely solid. Unclear spots often appear with an “or” note in Bible margins that record such differences. Yet none of those differences affects any core doctrinal teaching of Christianity. The only thing affected is how many verses make that teaching point.

So we can see the Gospels compare favorably to the classics in terms of what the sources say about Jesus and Caesar. If such sourcing works for the classics and the study of Caesar, it should work for Jesus as well.

Believing the Best Sources
The nature of the claims tied to Jesus often gets in the way of such an assessment. Many hesitate to see Jesus in the same light as Caesar since the Gospel sources testify that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and performed unusual signs and wonders to validate his claim.

But Jesus had such a big public reputation that a wide array of other sources make similar testimony about the dispute surrounding Jesus’s work. This is beyond dispute and something most don’t think about. Even sources tied to his opponents make this testimony. Jewish sources report the Jewish reaction to Jesus and reveal they believed his miracles were sourced in malevolent power. We see the same thing reported in the synoptic Gospels (Matt. 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15). In Justin Martyr’s second-century debate with Trypho, Trypho argues Jesus was a magician (Ag. Trypho 69.7). Similar charges appear in the Talmud, where he is called a sorcerer (b. Sanh 43a). This is significant since it demonstrates no one was arguing that the accounts of Jesus’s actions were fabricated or mythical. An argument so popular today (partly because of our distance to the events) isn’t even made by ancients in their public discussion of Jesus.

So where does this leave us? It forces us to accept the presentation of Jesus in the Gospels as part of the ancient story. It shows us Christ’s story is just as well attested as Caesar’s. You can accept or deny claims made about Jesus in the Gospels, but you can’t pretend they were never made. If the sources for Caesar are good enough for classicists to study and accept, then we should also seriously assess the core descriptions of Jesus’s life from the sources closest to him.

If we believe what the best sources say about Julius Caesar, then we should believe what the best sources say about Jesus Christ.

Source: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/sources-for-caesar-and-jesus-compared/

Regarding his resurrection, the argument is simple. Why would people follow a dead man who claimed to be God and who claimed to rise from the dead, and be martyred for it? It's possible to say that people are gullible, but to the point of giving their lives, something greater had to have happened, and that's why the resurrection and the pentacost make perfect sense if you're honest.

But why the lulz? Are you so filled with conceit in your own ideas that you think they are incontestable? You will lose in the end.

Edit: Added a table for reference

Edit:

Added another excellent commentary on Quora: https://kevinschristianity.quora.com/Historical-Sources-for-Jesus

The lulz is not because my ideas are not contestible. The lulz is because you are failing miserablyto contest them. Likely because you have not critically evaluated the ideas you are parroting, as demonstrated by the fact that you can merely copy paste something from a website. A website that is not at all responsive to what was said.

The website starts my addressing the historicity, but then quickly switches the ball.

"And this is where things get especially interesting. Around 12 manuscripts are essential for determining the wording of Caesar’s account."

Note the change here. Determining the wording of Caeser's accounts. They are not disputing that there is reliable evidence that these accounts testify to the existence of Julius Caeser or that they were written by contemporaries. They are arguing that we can not reliably determine the original wording due to the loss of manuscripts, ancient books aren't that good at surviving, and the lesser amount of manuscripts, which would be expected of historical documents vs. religious texts.

But, they then change things again. When they talk about the Caeser manuscripts they are referring to manuscripts. Then... when they talk about the New Testament... "The fragment p52 is dated around AD 125. It only has a few portions of John 18, but it starts a trail that has full manuscripts of the Gospels appearing by the fourth century." See, now we're comparing fragments for new testament vs full manuscripts for Caeser. They're putting a thumb on the scale. A fair comparison would be either fragment to fragment or full manuscript to full manuscript. And by their account, we don't have full manuscripts until about 400 years after his death.

To sum it up the conversation essentially went like this.

"There were no reliable sources for the resurrection."

"Well yeah, but this website shows that those unreliable sources didn't change that much!!!"

To which the obvious response is, it doesn't fucking matter. If we have an account from someone who didn't see the resurrection, that can't prove the resurrection (and even if it did, it wouldn't be sufficient, because there are lots of things people testify to that are obviously bullshit). It doesn't matter if you copy it a billion times without changing a single word, the account sucked to begin with, so it still sucks. Doesn't magically become less shit when it gets older. Whereas if you have an eyewitness account, that would be decent evidence to begin with, at least when it comes to the existence of a particular figure. Its reliability degrades over time through transcription, but even so it will remain better than an account that was worthless to begin with.

As for why people died for believing in that, two clear possibilities. One, that it was all bullshit, because there is no evidence of people who actually would have seen Jesus post resurrection being killed for that belief. The other possibility, which would also be the best explanation for anyone who died later on, is that they genuinely believed it, and were wrong. Tons of people believe idiotic things. See exhibit A, this topic. Sometimes, people even die because of that. Just because the 9/11 hijackers believed there were 72 virgins awaiting them doesn't mean Mohammed flew to the moon on a pegasus. 

So, yeah. Stand by my lulz.

Last edited by JWeinCom - on 24 January 2022

JWeinCom said:

The lulz is not because my ideas are not contestible. The lulz is because you are failing miserablyto contest them. Likely because you have not critically evaluated the ideas you are parroting, as demonstrated by the fact that you can merely copy paste something from a website. A website that is not at all responsive to what was said.

The website starts my addressing the historicity, but then quickly switches the ball.

"And this is where things get especially interesting. Around 12 manuscripts are essential for determining the wording of Caesar’s account."

Note the change here. Determining the wording of Caeser's accounts. They are not disputing that there is reliable evidence that these accounts testify to the existence of Julius Caeser or that they were written by contemporaries. They are arguing that we can not reliably determine the original wording due to the loss of manuscripts, ancient books aren't that good at surviving, and the lesser amount of manuscripts, which would be expected of historical documents vs. religious texts.

But, they then change things again. When they talk about the Caeser manuscripts they are referring to manuscripts. Then... when they talk about the New Testament... "The fragment p52 is dated around AD 125. It only has a few portions of John 18, but it starts a trail that has full manuscripts of the Gospels appearing by the fourth century." See, now we're comparing fragments for new testament vs full manuscripts for Caeser. They're putting a thumb on the scale. A fair comparison would be either fragment to fragment or full manuscript to full manuscript. And by their account, we don't have full manuscripts until about 400 years after his death.

See, they're not in any way attesting to the accuracy of the sources themselves (although they try to switch the ball back at the end), they're just saying that the New Testament wording changed less from the earliest fragments to its modern form than certain documents attesting to Caeser. Which, I'll just for the sake of ease accept as that contention as true. It's probably bullshit, but I don't know enought about sourcing historical documents to show that.

But, even taking everything they say as true, it is a rather laughable argument. Essentially it boils down to, "Hey, we've got a little itty piece of John: 18 from 100 years after Christ died. Clearly everything the Bible said must be true. And, anyone with critical thinking abilities can only respond with lulz. That is not enough evidence to establish anything. If you think that's less evidence than we have for Caeser (it's not) then you shouldn't believe that Caeser existed either. 

So, you have failed completely to dispute the fact that there is no contemporary source testifying to either the fact that Jesus lived, much less that he was resurrected. There are on the other hand tons of sources on Caeser, even if we should take exact wording with a grain of salt. The more important point that your copypasta missed is that nobody is attesting to anything as specific as the resurrection for Julius Caeser. Nobody is claiming to know anything that specific, because that would be a stupid claim to make.

As for why people died for believing in that, two clear possibilities. One, that it was all bullshit, because there is no evidence of people who actually would have seen Jesus post resurrection being killed for that belief. The other possibility, which would be the best explanation for anyone who died later on, is that they genuinely believed it, and were wrong. Tons of people believe idiotic things. See exhibit A, this topic. Sometimes, people even die because of that. Just because the 9/11 hijackers believed there were 72 virgins awaiting them doesn't mean Mohammed flew to the moon on a pegasus. 

So, yeah. Stand by my lulz.

Why are you so pompous though, do people you talk to enjoy that about you? It's trashy.

Did you even read the quora commentary? It's filled with answers.

Stand by your lulz I couldn't care less. Definitely doesn't make my opinion of you any brighter.

Read and educate yourself a bit:

To answer, this is a list of contemporary* sources that mention Jesus:

  1. The Gospel of Matthew
  2. The Gospel of Mark
  3. The Gospel of Luke
  4. The Gospel of John
  5. Tacitus’ Annals
  6. A letter by Mara bar Serapion
  7. Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus
  8. Passing of Peregrinus by Lucian of Samosata

*Within 100 years roughly. Peregrinus is slightly farther than that but it’s close enough so I’ll count it.

Now, you’ve probably noticed a couple main things:

1: I listed the gospels

The gospels are considered historical sources by historians. Be careful whenever anyone asks a question saying “aside from the Gospels…” That person is trying to selectively choose the data to suit their theories (Texas sharpshooter fallacy). This is a big no-no in intellectual fields (especially the sciences), although armchair historians still attempt it on a semi-regular basis.

Furthermore, each of these sources has an impressive historical certification. For instance, we have 5,000 gospel manuscripts dating to within 40 years of authorship. In contrast, we have 33 within 750 years for all of Tacitus’ writings combined.

Additionally, four biographies is not a small number. Tiberius has only that many, and he was the emperor of Rome. (And Cassius Dio, the author of one of these, was not even born until a century after Tiberius’ death).

It’s also worth noting that the gospels explicitly state which people were present at the main events so that the stories could be corroborated. This virtually guarantees that they are primary sources.

2: I listed all four gospels separately

This is not a mistake. While it’s obvious the Gospels are inter-related, they are also clearly four separate historical accounts, not just one divergent text. This diagram is helpful:

This is called the synoptic problem, but the TLDR is that it’s virtually impossible to reduce the 3 first gospels to anything fewer than 3 original sources.

John is off on his own because his gospel is nothing like the other 3.

People will tell you the Bible was “written” in 300s AD, but that is false. The Bible was not “written” at all. It is basically an anthology, a collection, of other written works. The actual accounts of Jesus were all written separately before 100AD, and only assembled in the 100s-300s. Further, we have manuscripts dating to pre-300, so we know they were not edited at the time of assembly.

3: Half the sources for Jesus are in the Bible

This makes it very difficult to argue that “historical Jesus” is any different from “bible Jesus,” because MOST of the information we have of Jesus was later incorporated into the Bible. Any way you slice it, the Bible should carry as much weight as any of the other sources.

4: None of the other sources are specifically aimed at Jesus.

Tacitus’ Annals cover the entire state of the Roman Empire at the time. Josephus’ Antiquities likewise mostly covers the Judeo-Roman war. Mara’s letter is just a letter, not a history, and Lucian mostly wrote satire about Roman life.

While the gospels each dedicate a small book to the life of Jesus, the other documents spend, at most, a few paragraphs describing him. This makes it hard to construct a “historical Jesus” aside from the gospel

So, what’s the takeaway?

The sources all agree on 3 main points:

  1. Jesus was a real person who was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified by Pontius Pilate
  2. Three days after Jesus’ execution, his tomb was empty
  3. Jesus’ disciples claimed they had seen him rise from the dead.

Obviously, not all historians are Christian (or atheist), but if you question any of these 3 you’ll probably be laughed out of any serious discussion, because all the documents agree on these 3.

Additionally, no ancient sources largely question the Bible account of Jesus.

This is not a statement in favor of Christianity; as I mentioned earlier, only 4 sources dedicated to the life of Jesus exist. The others all mention him offhand or briefly.

And yes, I’m aware of several small disagreements with other historical sources (such as the census). But those are largely immaterial.

DISCLAIMER: I did my best to answer this question purely as a historian with as little bias as possible. Please keep your comments in the same light.

Some Common Questions:

But what about the council of Nicea? Didn’t they edit the Bible afterwards?

This is a very common misconception, but no. In fact, the Council of Nicea did not even discuss biblical canon. It was not even on the agenda.

Why should it be?

Those who have been paying careful attention will have noticed that the manuscripts we have date to 130AD. This means that the documents were already written by that point… two hundred years before the council convened. Why should they re-discuss what had already been canon for two hundred years?

And even if they did, why should we listen to them? We have the original document, who cares what people two centuries later had to say about it.

But the Romans kept very good records… Why only four accounts for Jesus?

Well, mainly because four full accounts is considered a very good record. No, scratch that. Four full accounts is considered a spectacular historical record. Let me put this into comparison: Tiberius Caesar, the Emperor of Rome from 14–37 AD (Jesus’ time) has only 5 biographical accounts:

  1. Paterculus' Roman History (30 AD)
  2. Josephus' Antiquities (93 AD)
  3. Tacitus' Annals (117 AD)
  4. Suetonius' Twelve Caesars (121 AD)
  5. Cassius Dio' Roman History (229 AD)

In comparison, Jesus, an itinerant preacher from backwater Judea, has four accounts all dating before 110 AD. In essence, he has about as much written about him as the Roman Emperor.

But isn’t the Bible just a collection of folklore? Why should we treat it as any more real than the Greek myths?

Well, most of the Old Testament is, and those who are intellectually honest will admit that. The problem is that the New Testament, specifically the Gospels, cannot be considered folklore by any stretch of the imagination.

For one thing, the author of Luke explicitly states that he’s writing a history. Paul says that if Jesus didn’t actually die “all our faith is meaningless,” and several of the accounts actually name eyewitnesses to the events, and go to great trouble to point out that some of them are still alive as of the time of the writing. Now, obviously, they aren’t still alive 2000 years later for us to go and ask them, but the fact that the accounts mention specific eyewitnesses still living is a huge blow to the “folklore” argument.

Furthermore, we have to remember that Christianity was illegal in Rome until 313 AD (punishable by death for much of that period). One could argue that the Gospels are an elaborate hoax, but a casual campfire story which spread out of control simply does not hold water: people don’t casually spread stories which lead to them being executed.

But how do we know the story wasn’t changed afterwards?

Well, the whole reason to bring up the number of manuscripts is precisely so we know the record hasn’t been changed. Since we have so many manuscripts, we have a very good idea of what the story looked like in 100AD, 200AD, 300AD, and so forth. We just have to look at the manuscripts we found from 100, 200, 300 (respectively).

From here: https://kevinschristianity.quora.com/Historical-Sources-for-Jesus

Last edited by padib - on 24 January 2022