Jesus Christ or Julius Caesar ~ Who is More Likely to Have Been a Real Person?

Jesus Christ + Julius Caesar

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Who has the most evidence - JC or JC?

It is frequently said that there is more evidence for Jesus Christ than for Julius Caesar.

Surely, that is not true! I have a history degree and I am quite certain that it isn't true.

Further; not only do some Christians claim that there is more evidence for Jesus than for Caesar, they claim that there are thousands of times more evidence!

Thousands of times more!?

Where is it?

I can only assume that they are referring to all existing Bibles / Biblical manuscripts and parts thereof.

But one cannot, for example, take the 'Book of Mark' as a piece of evidence and then take every copy of it as a new piece of evidence!

Early copies may be helpful in learning more about a document, but they cannot be counted as further pieces of evidence.

* * * *

The real problem, for me, is that some highly respected experts seem to support the idea that evidence for Julius Caear is either unreliable, or in short supply.

I find that bewildering!

So let's check this out: JC or JC ~ for whom is there more and / or better evidence?

Jesus - Arguments

Many Arguments

We should bear in mind that this 'debate' is not really concerned with Julius Caesar; it is an attempt to prove that Jesus was a real man.

This is an argument put forth by those who believe in Jesus ~ whether or not they are Christians.

But Christians want to prove that, not only was Jesus a real man, but also that he was a real God.

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Some areas of this topic deserve particular attention:

~ The evidence, supposedly supplied by Josephus, is really important.

~ A book and recent statements, from Bart Ehrman, are also worthy of inspection.

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Further reading will be found in the links, for those who want to know more.

Evidence:

Nativity - Duccio’s Maestá, 13th century

13th C. Out of copyright. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maesta3.jpg
13th C. Out of copyright. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maesta3.jpg | Source

Evidence for Jesus - What Is Evidence?

Before considering the evidence that we have Jesus, we should ask: what constitutes evidence?

Evidence might be any artefact, which indicates that something is true or real.

The Oxford Online Dictionary states that it is 'the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.' This might include witness testimony, contemporary records, relevant images, relevant objects, etc.

Some evidence is reliable and some is less so.

What sort of evidence do we have for Jesus?

Crucifixion - Simon Vouet - 1622

1622. Out of Copyright. PD-KONST.. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SVouet.jpg
1622. Out of Copyright. PD-KONST.. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SVouet.jpg | Source

Evidence for Jesus: Ancient Documents

There are mentions of Jesus in a number of ancient documents:


1. Canonical Gospels: Mark, Matthew, Luke, John
2. Non-canonical Gospels, eg Thomas, Philip, James, John, Judas and others
3. Mentions in other parts of the New Testament; eg Acts of the Apostles; Letters of St Paul, etc.
4. Apparent mentions in the work of Josephus Flavius
5. Apparent mentions in the work of Pliny the Younger
6. Apparent mentions in the work of Tacitus
7. Apparent mentions in the work of Suetonius
8. Mentions by Papias
9. Apparent mentions in the Talmud

* * *

Reliability

'The Resurrection of Christ' by Noel Coypel - 1700

Out of copyright. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Noel_Coypel_The_Resurrection_of_Christ.jpg
Out of copyright. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Noel_Coypel_The_Resurrection_of_Christ.jpg | Source

How reliable is the evidence?

Reliable evidence is usually contemporary and corroborated.

None of the available evidence for Jesus is contemporary.

Can any of the available evidence for Jesus be corroborated?

The Gospels do support each other, in parts, but they also contradict each other, in parts.

Furthermore, the synoptic gospels, in particular, have been shown to rely heavily on each other, and on earlier, non-extant, documents.

Documents that appear to be derived from each other cannot be used as corroborative evidence of each other; neither can non-existent documents.

In addition, the Gospels were 'Good News' stories; not histories. Thus, by their very nature, it would be difficult for them to be taken as strong evidence of anything.

New Testament

Canonical Gospel Dates:

Geza Vermes notes:

"According to mainstream scholarship these [were] .. produced ... between c. AD 70 and 110."

"The large majority of modern scholars date Mark's account ... to ... AS 66-74, more likely to the years following the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70."

"New Testament scholars place Matthew's work to c AD 80-100."

"The combined evidence suggests that the Fourth Gospel was published in the early second century, probably between the years AD 100 and 110."

* * *

Don Cupitt and Peter Armstrong, in their 1977 book 'Who Was Jesus?', give provisional dates, as follows:

Mark 65
Matthew 75
Luke 75
John 85

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James D Tabor, in his 2006 book 'The Jesus Dynasty', provides these dates:

Mark c 70
Matthew: c 80
Luke c 90
John c 99 (?)

Gospel and Non-Gospel New Testament

The Gospels have to be treated with caution. They are our main sources for Jesus, yet they are specifically meant to be 'good news' stories. As such, they do not have to be truthful histories.

Old English 'godspel' was equivalent to Latin 'bona annuntiatio' and Greek 'euangelion'.

The gospels (Canonical and otherwise) were written with a purpose ~ to spread a message. (Compare 'angel' meaning 'messenger').

Furthermore, the Gospels were written after Jesus is believed to have lived. They are not contemporary evidence.

They were written in Greek, but, by whom, remains a mystery.

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Elsewhere, in the New Testament there is, of course, further mention of Jesus ~ but, often, by the very people, who featured as major characters within the Gospel stories. Again, these people cannot be taken as evidence of themselves.

What about Saint Paul? ~ Well, he acknowledeges that he never met or even saw Jesus during his supposed lifetime. Paul is recorded as having described a mystical experience of some kind ~ but mystical experiences are not considered to be evidence.

Paul's letters generally support the gospel stories, but that is hardly surprising. He was a convert to the 'early Christian' cause and, like the gospels, his epistles were sent out to spread the good news. Indeed, his letters were written earlier than the gospels and may even have influenced some of the content of the gospels.

The stories and the letters were, in effect, missionary work. They include mystical events, miracles and parables, none of which are evidence for a living, breathing person. They might even be termed propaganda for the cause. I do not see how they can be considered as independent corroborative evidence.

Indeed, I, personally, would say that nothing in the New Testament should be taken as strong evidence, or solid proof, of the existence of Jesus. But it seems that the experts ~ or, at least, some of them ~ disagree.

Ehrman

Bart Ehrman, Expert Scholar, Believes in the Man Jesus

Bart D Ehrman, PhD., is James A Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was once a devout Christian, but is now an agnostic. He has a Masters of Divinity and a Ph.D., both from Princeton Theological Seminary.

He has recently published a new book ~ 'Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth' (March 2012). His answer, regarding the existence of Jesus, is in the affirmative.

In an interview, with Reginald Finley, concerning his new book, Ehrman said some ~ to me ~ rather surprising things.

Does Ehrman Believe in Julius Caesar

Just to set the record straight, yes, of course Bart Ehrman believes in Julius Caesar!

Here are some quotes from his new book:

'All we [historians] can do is give enough evidence ... to convince enough people ... about a certain historical claim, for example, that Abraham Lincoln really did deliver the Gettysburg Address or that Julius Caesar really did cross the Rubicon. ..... In neither of these particular cases ... is there really much doubt.' (Kindle page 38).

'Julius Caesar left us an account of the Gallic Wars.' (Kindle page 40).

'... some things are far more certain than others. It is far more certain that Julius Caesar fought the Gallic Wars (he wrote about them and we still have the books) than that Apollonius of Tyana raised a genuinely dead person back to life .... Historians deal for the most part in probabilities, and some things are more probable than others.' (Kindle page 288)

Ehrman, Bart D. (March 2012). 'Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth' Harper Collins.

Discussion between Bart Ehrman and Reginald Finley.

Extracts from an interview, between Reginald Finley and Bart Ehrman, related to the March 2012 publication of Ehrman's book 'Did Jesus Exist?'.

The video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdqJyk-dtLs

***

Bart Ehrman: 'I don't think that there is any serious historian, who doubts the existence of Jesus'.

Reginald Finley: 'There really isn't any hardcore evidence, though ....'.

Ehrman: 'I disagree with that. What hardcore evidence is there that Julius Caesar existed? .....'

Finley: 'What is the evidence .....? Because we don't have anything that exists, right, until after he died?'

Ehrman: 'But that's true of everyone'.
.......

Finley: 'But we don't have any ancient records of anyone who wrote about Jesus while he was alive, do we?'
........
Ehrman: 'Just as we don't have for billions of people, who lived in the past, but we're pretty sure existed. I mean .. we have more evidence for Jesus than for almost anybody from his time period. ......'

***

Agnostic Scholar, Bart Ehrman, would disagree with me!

It would appear that agnostic scholar, Bart Ehrman, whose books I really enjoy, would disagree with at least some of my views and conclusions.

In his new book, he encourages readers to consider the different parts of the New Testament, not as a single entity, but as a set of individual documents, to which can be added at least some of the non-canonical gospels ~ and earlier written and oral traditions.

I agree with him, that all historic documents are of value to the historical researcher. And I appreciate that the gospels, etc, were individual items, before being gathered together into the New Testament. But, even after reading this book, I still find it impossible to accept that the New Testament is reliable evidence.

The gospels were just that ~ gospels. They were 'good news stories' with an agenda; to tell of the God-man Jesus. They are bound to support each other, at least in part. And, in Matthew, Mark and Luke ~ and even in small parts of John ~ the similarities are huge; even to the extent of the very same words being used. Often, the stories include 'prophecy' from the Old Testament, which, clearly, is not a record of Jesus, but an ancient quote. Surely these items cannot be considered, individually, as independent corroborated evidence!

There are angels and miracles, which, though of great interest to believers, cannot be taken as reliable evidence for historians.

And the differences, where they exist, often tend to contradict each other, so certainly cannot be corroborative evidence (or evidence of the perfection of God's book).

It is very likely that earlier Gospels were written, and stories told, which influenced the canonical ones ~ but, if they influenced each other, then they cannot be taken as independent, even if they still existed, which they do not.

Saint Paul's writings are, also, apparently, to be taken as corroborative evidence for Jesus. But Paul never met Jesus. He may have heard of his life and works, and known his followers. He may, even, have learned his stories from them, in which case they would be bound to be written in a similar vein.

We don't and cannot know, for sure, who Paul met and what he knew and how much of it was true. We only have letters that were written with a missionary's purpose ~ including some of 'his' letters that were not, actually, written by him.

The Jesus stories existed; we know that, because Christianity blossomed, but we do not know whether the stories were true.

And, again, Paul's letters had an agenda ~ a similar agenda to the gospels.

It strikes me that my argument against this 'more evidence for Jesus view' needs to be taken up with Ehrman. Christians repeat it, but Ehrman is the expert. Furthermore, he states that most experts on the planet agree with him.

I admit that this was a huge surprise to me. All of the unbiased, well-read people, with whom I had discussed this subject ~ mostly historians and teachers ~ had been as convinced as I that there is no proof for the existence of Jesus, and that the view that there is more evidence for Jesus than for Caesar is nonsensical. Yet the experts either believe it, or give the impression that they do!

Ehrman may be agnostic, but I am wondering how many of the other experts are Christians?

Certainly there are experts, who acknowledge that there is no existing contemporary evidence for Jesus.

With all due respect to the experts, who most definitely outrank me, as far as both experience and qualifications are concerned, I am still unconvinced that there is enough good evidence to state, with any certainty, that Jesus really lived.

Myth

Man-God and Mythicism

The 'mythicists' may or may not be correct when saying that Jesus was fabricated in the tradition of dying and rising God-men. I am not a mythicist. I am interested in the subject, but do not know enough about the early gods.

Ehrman seems to think that the 'mythicists' are mistaken. But let us not forget that Jesus was presented to us as a God-man ~ not by mythicists, but by the New Testament. This is a demi-God, comparable to Hercules ~ half God; half human. God is his father and a human woman is his mother. Jesus is considered to be 'Son of God' / God incarnate'.

Matthew 1
' .. the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream , saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.'

Luke 1

'.. the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. .... The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.'

Would evidence about Hercules receive the same attention to detail as the search for the historical Jesus is getting?

Would anyone suggest that Hercules was real (though probably not divine) because there are stories about him?

Bart Ehrman on 'The Mythicists'.

'The Mythicists' believe that Jesus was a mythical character, based on earlier 'God-men' themes.

In one article, Bart Ehrman asks ~ apparently baffled ~ if it is a 'surprise to hear [the suggestion] that Jesus never even existed?'

After all, this is '... the greatest figure in the history of Western civilization, the man on whom the most powerful and influential .... religious institution in the world ... was built, the man worshipped ... by billions ...'

Yet there is doubt about whether he ever lived at all:

"That is the claim made by a .. growing cadre of ... mythicists. ..."

As Ehrman expains:

"Few ... are actually scholars trained in ancient history, religion, biblical studies ... ... there is not a single mythicist who teaches New Testament or Early Christianity ... at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world .."

And Ehrman certainly disagrees with them:

"The reality .... is that Jesus was real. ...."

He makes a few concessions:

"It is true that Jesus is not mentioned in any Roman sources of his day ... these same sources mention scarcely anyone from his time and place.

"it is also true that our best sources about Jesus, the early Gospels, are riddled with problems. These were written decades after Jesus' life by biased authors ...."

But, quite rightly, he notes:

"The question is not whether sources are biased but whether biased sources can be used to yield historically reliable information ....."

And he adds:

"With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul) ..... "

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/did-jesus-exist_b_1349544.html


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However ...

According to NPR Books' site (npr.org):

'Mythicists' arguments are fairly plausible, Ehrman says. According to them, Jesus was never mentioned in any Roman sources and there is no archeological evidence that Jesus ever existed.'

James D Tabor

James Tabor, Expert Scholar, Believes in the Man Jesus

Professor James D. Tabor is Chair of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Tabor has interpreted the New Testament in his own way and has written a very interesting book: 'The Jesus Dynasty - Stunning New evidence About the Hidden History of Jesus'.

Tabor writes: "the Jesus Dynasty presents the Jesus story in an entirely new light. It is history, not fiction".

"It is history, not fiction". Tabor seems certain that Jesus was a historical figure.

Josephus

Josephus: Antiquitates Iudaice libri XX, De bello Iudaico libri VII - 1466 Manuscript

Out of copyright / Public Domain. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Josephus_Antiquitates_Iudaice.jpg
Out of copyright / Public Domain. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Josephus_Antiquitates_Iudaice.jpg | Source

Josephus Flavius - A Potentially Important Source

Josephus Flavius lived from 37 AD to about 100 AD. Thus, he was born just a short time after the alleged death of Jesus.

Good testimony from him would be invaluable ~ though still not contemporary. His 'Antiquities of the Jews' was written in around 93 ~ 94 AD.

There is a tendency to accept Josephus's writings as fairly reliable, but they still have to be regarded with some caution. We should always be wary of accepting any evidence at face value.

Furthermore, it must be noted that the earliest surviving Josephus manuscripts date only to the 11th century.

If genuine, the 'Jesus' references, in Josephus's writings, are the best extra-Biblical evidence that we have for him.

There are two references, and both are found in the 'Antiquities of the Jews'. The most important is found in the so-called 'Testimonium Flavianum'.

First Mention: The 'Testimonium Flavianum', Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 3, 3

Quote:

"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works .........

"He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate ..... had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."

Comments on the Testimonium

John E. Remsberg, author of 'The Christ':

For nearly sixteen hundred years Christians have been citing this passage as a testimonial, not merely to the historical existence, but to the divine character of Jesus Christ. And yet a ranker forgery was never penned. Its language is Christian. Every line proclaims it the work of a Christian writer.'

* * *

Rev. S. Baring-Gould, author of 'Lost and Hostile Gospels'

“This passage is first quoted by Eusebius (fl. A. D. 315) in two places; but it was unknown to Justin Martyr (A. D. 140) Clement of Alexandria (A. D. 192), Tertullian (A. D. 193) and Origen (A. D. 230). Such a testimony would certainly have been produced by Justin in his apology or in his controversy with Trypho the Jew, had it existed in the copies of Josephus at his time. The silence of Origen is still more significant. ... He could not have failed to quote the words of Josephus, whose writings he knew, had the passage existed in the genuine text.'

Regarding 'The Testimonium Flavianum'

This evidence, where Josephus mentions the 'wise man' Jesus, seems impressive. Josephus was a Jew; not a Christian, so he was unbiased. His writings are, generally, respected as being of historical value.

Even so, it is not possible to prove that Josephus actually wrote these particular words and, at various times, experts have suggested that they may be later forged additions or adaptations.

Quote~ Gordon Stein: " ... the vast majority of scholars since the early 1800s have said that this quotation is not by Josephus, but rather is a later Christian insertion in his works. In other words, it is a forgery, rejected by scholars."

This quote is from an essay on the website of 'infidels.org': 'The Jesus of History: A Reply to Josh McDowell' by Gordon Stein, Ph.D.'

Along with the essay are some editor's comments:

'While there is no doubt among the majority of scholars that the Testimonium has been tampered with (and thus the entire passage cannot be authentic), a decent number of scholars believe the Testimonium is based upon an authentic core. In other words, on their view, Josephus really did write a passage referring to Jesus on which the modern Testimonium is based, but that passage was embellished by later Christians.'

Apparently, one reason for accepting the 'Testimonium' is that it was quoted by both Jerome and Michael the Syrian. They would have referred to a Greek version that must have existed by the 5th century. That may be the case, but the 5th century is well after the assumed dates for Jesus.

The earliest known reference to this important piece is in the early 4th century writings of Eusabius. This, again, is much too late to be contemporary with Jesus and it may even have been an invention of Eusabius, himself.

We may conclude, then, that the most important reference to Jesus the Christ, outside of the Bible, is a controversial one. Either it is genuine, or it is a forgery, or it is part genuine and part tampered with. That is not very helpful.

Jona Lendering, who writes the articles for 'livius.org', notes, quite reasonably, that 'It is unlikely that a pious Jew like Flavius Josephus would have written that Jesus 'appeared to them on the third day, living again''.

He goes on to say that John Meier reconstructed what he thought Josephus might have written ~ ie. without later Christian 'improvement'.

Here are Meier's resulting words:

'At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of the people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, because of an accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him previously did not cease to do so. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out.'

'New Testament' scholar, Professor Meier, holds the 'William K. Warren Foundation Chair' at the University of Notre Dame. He is a Roman Catholic priest. My personal opinion is that priests might be biased on this subject.

If his transcription is correct, then what might it tell us? ~ That, in about 93 ~ 94 AD, in Rome, Josephus heard about a crucified miracle-worker and preacher, named Jesus, whose followers existed until that day.

That is not surprising. This was sixty years after the apparent death of Jesus. We know that Christians existed. We know that the story said that Jesus died on the cross.

We also know that there were plenty of men called Jesus, plenty who were supposed miracle workers and plenty who claimed to be the Messiah.

It is not surprising that Josephus should have heard 'his' story.

Josephus

On the other hand, Josephus was born in Jerusalem, only a few years after Jesus apparently died. If Jesus had become famous, leading thousands of people around the area, whilst performing God-given miracles, then Josephus's family should, surely, have known more about him. (Especially if this was God on Earth!)

Why didn't Josephus write more about him?

Josephus wrote that his father, Matthias, was a Jewish priest, who was descended from the first priests of the Jerusalem Temple, yet there is no mention of Jesus causing uproar in the Temple prior to his arrest.

Josephus wrote that his mother was descended from the royal Hasmonean Dynasty, yet there is no mention of Jesus portraying himself as 'King of the Jews' and being arrested for insurrection.

Document

This 'Testimonium Flavianum' is truly fascinating, but controversial.

I have trouble accepting an ancient document, of this nature, as definite proof of the existence of Jesus.

It might be considered evidence for the existence of Christians ~ but not of Jesus.

James

2nd Mention: Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, Chapter 9, 1:

Quote:

' ..... the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession ... on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. ....

'Ananus ... assembled the sanhedrin ... and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and ... some of his companions; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned ... .....................................................

'king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him [Ananus] .. and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.'

Regarding Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, Chapter 9

This reference, apparently to the brother of Jesus, is intriguing. Is it evidence of the true existence of Jesus, the Christ?

Apparently it is found in all known manuscripts and most scholars accept is as genuine.

But ... 'John Remsburg, in his 1909 book 'The Christ', stated:"(t)o identify the James of Josephus with James the Just, the brother of Jesus, is to reject the accepted history of the primitive church which declares that James the Just died in 69 A.D., seven years after the James of Josephus was condemned to death by the Sanhedrin." '

Furthermore, Josephus was writing sixty years after the supposed death of Jesus, many miles away, in the city of Rome ~ and the only version we have of it is 11th century. Is that reliable evidence?

The reference to 'Jesus, the son of Damneus' raises the possibility, at least, that this James and Jesus were not Biblical, but were both sons of Damneus. 'Jesus' was a common name.

Did Josephus really refer to the first Jesus as 'the Christ'? It seems highly unlikely. How can we know? We have nothing early to confirm this.

Earl Doherty (Bachelor's Degree ~ Ancient History and Classical Languages. Author of 'The Jesus Puzzle') wrote: ".... a good case can be made for saying that Josephus wrote nothing about Jesus and was probably unaware of any such figure."

Ancient Writers

Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Suetonius

Tacitus lived from 56 AD until 117 AD ~ not contemporary!

~ He mentions Christus and Christians, but his is evidence of Christians, not evidence of Jesus the Christ.

Pliny the Younger lived from 61 AD to around 112 AD ~ not contemporary!

~ He mentions that "Christians were singing a hymn to Christ as to a god." Again, evidence of Christians is not evidence of Jesus the Christ.

Suetonius lived from around 71 AD until around 135 AD ~ not contemporary!

He wrote two relevant sentences:

1. 'As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, [Claudius] expelled them from Rome.'

2. 'Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition.'

'Chrestus didn't mean 'Christ'; but was a personal name. Furthermore, 'Jesus' is not mentioned and there was more than one man claiming to be the Messiah in those days.

Again, evidence of Christians is not evidence of Jesus the Christ.

*

According to tradition, Jesus is reported as dying in around 33 AD.

Even the eldest of these three writers was not born until more than a score years later. Accordingly, none of these men could have met Jesus and none of their work was contemporary with his life.

Thus, as evidence, it is not valuable as evidence of Jesus, but is evidence Christians.

There is no controversy over the existence of Christians.

Papias

Papias was born prior to AD 70 and died in around c. AD 155. He was writing in the early second century ~ around 110-140 A.D.

Only fragments of his work remain, as quoted by others.

Thus, we have nothing original from him and he was not a contemporary of Jesus.

'Fragments of Papias':

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/papias.html

Talmud

The Talmud

This is what Bart Ehrman wrotes about the Talmud:

"I need to say a few words about the Jewish Talmud. This is not because it is relevant but because ..... many people assume it is relevant. The Talmud is a collection of disparate materials from early Judaism .... Most of the material relates to ... the early rabbis ..... The collection was put together long after the days of Jesus."

Ehrman, Bart D. (2012-03-20). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (p. 66). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition. "

Clearly, the 'Talmud mentions are too late to be relevant.

James

The Conversion of Saul / Paul on the Road to Damascus - Acts 9:3-9

As he came near to Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly shone around him and he fell to the earth.

He heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

He asked "Who are you, Lord?" And the Lord answered, "I am Jesus, whom you persecute ....."

Trembling and astonished, he said, "Lord, what will you have me do?"

And the Lord said, "Arise, and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do".

The men who were travelling with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no-one.

Saul stood up and opened his eyes, but could not see. He was led by the hand and taken to Damascus.

For three days he was without sight ~ neither did he eat nor drink.

James, Bishop of Jerusalem and Brother of the Lord.

I have read, several times, that James the Just, first Bishop of Jerusalem, was 'brother of the Lord'.

If it were known to be true that James was Jerusalem's first bishop, and that he was definitely brother of the Lord Jesus, then this would constitute very good evidence for the existence of Jesus.

But, according to Wikipedia, 'information about his life is scarce and ambiguous', which sounds less than encouraging. Apparently, 'apart from a handful of references in the Gospels, the main sources for his life are the Acts of the Apostles, the Pauline epistles, the historian Josephus, and St. Jerome'.

As noted, the gospels were deliberately written to tell the story of the God-man, Jesus. And the epistles of Paul were deliberately written to spread that message. They are missionary works, so cannot be assumed to be reliable evidence.

There is a very brief mention of James, brother of the Lord, in Josephus, but that is not contemporary with Jesus's life and may be a reference to a belief, rather than to a fact. It may not even be genuine, though many scholars believe that it is.

St. Jerome lived from around 347 to 420 AD, well after Jesus and James. Thus his work is of little value as evidence.

One of Ehrman's most important pieces of evidence for the existence of Jesus concerns James. In his book 'Did Jesus Exist?', he notes that Saint Paul met James ~ and, if he met the brother of the lord, then the Lord must have existed.

This is what Paul apparently wrote:

To the Galatians 1:18-20 ~ King James Version:

"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not."

Ehrman is an expert on these matters and he believes Paul: "When Paul swears he is not lying, I generally believe him."

As Ehrman says, "We know the names of some of Jesus’s brothers from our early Gospel traditions. The Gospel of Mark names them as James, Joses, Judas, and Simon." (Mark 6: 3). Indeed, he notes that 'In multiple independent sources one of these brothers is named James'. ['Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth' Pages 120 + 151]

So Paul knew Peter and James ~ an apostle and a brother of Jesus. If correct, this is, indeed, evidence of the reality of Jesus.

But just how reliable are the writings of Paul? How much do we really know about this man?

How reliable are the writings of a biased man, who not only states that he met James, but also claims to have met Jesus ~ after he had died?

"I lie not",he apparently wrote.

"I lie not." Why does he feel the need to say that he is not lying? Was he in the habit of lying? If not, then why say this? If so, then can we trust anything that he writes?

For some reason, the phrase 'methinks he doth protest too much' keeps drifting into my mind.

Martyrs

Christian Martyrs

It is said that the very existence of Christian martyrs is evidence for Jesus. After all, why would someone die for an untrue cause?

People do die for many religions, not just Christianity, so such behaviour does not validate Christianity. Furthermore, scholars now believe that there were far fewer Christian martyrs than used to be thought, so it is not a valid argument.

Even if true, the fact that people will die for a cause says very little about that cause's veracity. In 1997, members of the Heaven's Gate cult committed suicide, in the belief that they would be rescued by a spacecraft accompanying Comet Hale-Bopp! People will die for all sorts of beliefs.

Clues

Biblical 'Clues'

According to Don Cupitt and Peter Armstrong, in their book 'Who Was Jesus?', one should read the Gospels 'critically'.

One should always be aware of Old Testament influences, for example, and one should look out for 'less elaborate' or 'more difficult' inclusions. One should also 'suspect whatever seems to fit too neatly with the ... church'.

Biblical clues might tell us how likely it is that Jesus lived.

By reading, carefully, it might be possible to draw out threads, which might indicate whether or not Jesus really lived.

Ehrman's reading has led him to one piece of evidence, which he considers to be very important ~ the crucifixion.

'A Crucified Messiah'

Deuteronomy 21: 23: “Everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed.”

'... hanging a human corpse on a tree [w]as a public statement of shame and humiliation'.

'Jesus too was crucified .....'

For Paul and others it would have been clear: 'Jesus did not enjoy God’s blessing. Just the opposite: he was under God’s curse. Evidence? He was hung on a tree. ..... the messiah was not supposed to be killed at all.'

[Ehrman, Bart D. (2012-03-20). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth]

Ehman's logical conclusion is that no-one would have invented a crucified messiah, so the crucifixion ~ and hence the messiah, Jesus ~ must have been real.

Evidence for Julius Caesar

Gaius Julius Caesar ~ 104 - 44 B. C.

Contemporary evidence for Julius Caesar exists in various forms:

~ 'Julius Caesar' coins.

~ His own account of the Gallic War campaigns and his part in the Civil War ~ 'Commentarii de Bello Gallico' + 'Commentarii de Bello Civili'.

~ Well attested tradition of Caesar on coins of Augustus.

~ Archaeological finds, which support Caesar's claims re 'Gaul'.

~ There are writings from Suetonius and Plutarch, which mention Julius Caesar, but they are later ~ ie. non-contemporaneous.

* * *

~ In addition, there is a carved head of Julius Caesar, apparently made during his lifetime, showing him with a receding hairline.

~ There are letters tio and about him. Eg. From Cicero to Atticus; 50BC

"... if Caesar does lose his head ... , Pompey feels only the deepest contempt for him ..."

How does the evidence for Jesus compare with the evidence for Julius Caesar?

There are no letters to, or from, Jesus.

There is nothing autobiographical from Jesus.

There are no letters about Jesus sent during his lifetime.

There are no contemporary statues, or other physical representations of Jesus, executed during his lifetime.

I am not suggesting that there should be any such evidence; simply indicating that there isn't ~ but that there is for Julius Caesar!

'The Mythic Past'

The writer of 'The Mythic Past' deals with this idea on his webpages, citing much evidence for Julius Caesar ~ in the form of brief mentions, chapters, biographies, letters, etc, etc, from:

~ Sallust (86-34BC);
~ Suetonius (c75-120AD)1
~ Plutarch (46-127AD).
~ Appian (c95-165AD)
~ Cicero
~ Dio Cassius
~ Livy
~ Lucan
~ Valerius Maximus
~ Vitruvius
~ Catullus

Plus:
~ inscriptions
~monuments
~statues
~coins

He adds: 'So much of Roman history depends upon this one man he is like the centerpiece of its history'

http://mythicpast.blogspot.co.uk/2006/02/historicity-of-julius-caesar.html

Real?

Jesus: Was He Real?


Since the Jesus stories exist, then it is also possible that Jesus existed.

Evidence has to be open to interpretation. Certainly the evidence for Jesus has been interpreted in a number of different ways! That is because it is not clear, from the Bible, what is the truth.

*

One possibility is that the miraculous stories of the 'Son of God' / 'God incarnate' are true.

*

Since he went around with a group of men with names like Simon the Zealot, it has been suggested that he may have been the leader of an insurrectionist gang. Indeed, the Bible indicates that it was for insurrection that he was executed. Luigi Cascioli was one very vocal supporter of this idea.

*

Another suggestion is that he may have been any one of a number of itinerant preachers working in that area at that time ~ maybe even named Yeshua ~ and that the Biblical story was added to his real story.

*

An alternative suggestion is that he was a mythological Man-God, in the tradition of semi-divine gods. Certainly he is described as the offspring of a supreme God and a human girl, but whether the mythicists' arguments should be accepted, I do not know. They are worth looking at, even if only to be discarded. There may even be a glimmer of truth in there!

*

Maybe he was a prince; a pharaoh; an essene; a freedom fighter, a rabbi, a carpenter, a stone-mason, a messiah, an insurrectionist; an early 'hippy'; a 'sun god'. All have been proposed. (Ahmed Osman supports the Pharaoh hypothesis.)

*

Experts and amateurs set out their hypotheses, based on the limited evidence, and conclude either that he was real or that he was mythical.

But lack of any contemporary and corroborative evidence means that these conclusions are not necessarily correct.

As interesting as they are, they are suggestions and hypotheses. It is possible that one of the experts has hit on the truth, but it is not certain and cannot be taken as proof that Jesus really lived. .

The reason that we still ask the question 'Did Jesus Exist?' is because we do not yet have a definitive answer.

Jesus? Julius?

Julius Caesar: "Tusculum Portrait".

Probably the sole such item to actually date from Julius Caesar's lifetime". Released into the public domain. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CaesarTusculum.jpg
Probably the sole such item to actually date from Julius Caesar's lifetime". Released into the public domain. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CaesarTusculum.jpg | Source

Jesus Christ or Julius Caesar - Who is More Likely to Have Been a Real Person?

And is it true that there is more, or better, or even equivalent, evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than for the existence of Julius Caesar?

I have heard this argument many times and had always felt very secure in my reply that it was complete nonsense. Of course, I said, there is better evidence for Julius Caesar than for Jesus Christ.

I based this on the fact that there is corroborative, contemporary evidence for Caesar and only non-contemporary, Biblical evidence, with no external corroboration, for Jesus.

Then I heard Bart Ehrman state that 'there is hard evidence' of Jesus's existence, and I heard him rhetorically ask: 'What hardcore evidence is there that Julius Caesar existed?'

Ehrman is a professor with a PhD! I have long admired his work. I own a number of his books.

I have a BA in Medieval and Modern History, and a PGCE, both from the University of Birmingham, in England. I also have a great interest in matters Biblical, so I study them for pleasure. My qualifications and experience cannot be compared to Ehrman's.

Ehrman, an agnostic, thinks that there is 'hard evidence' that Jesus existed ~ and, apparently, most theological experts agree with him.

He also seems to indicate that there is no 'hard evidence' for Julius Caesar ~ or, at least, nothing stronger than there is for Jesus. (I don't know how his fellow professors feel about that.) Certainly, though, he writes that Julius Caesar was real.

I cannot say that I agree with Ehrman regarding supposed 'hard evidence' for the existence of Jesus, though I acknowledge his greater learning, and I do think that there is 'hard evidence' for Julius Caesar ~ I verified this with an English expert in Roman history.

There is no unbiased, corroborated, contemporary evidence for Jesus. Even the Gospels are not contemporary ~ indeed the exact date is unknown. Their authors are unknown. They are not externally corroborated.

Does this mean that I do not believe that Jesus existed?

Not at all. I think that there is a good chance that he did ~ just as I think that there is a good chance that Robin Hood lived ~ but there is no proof that he did.

There are some intriguing clues, however, and some of Saint Paul's comments do indicate that Jesus may well have been real.

Conclusions

What conclusions might we draw?

Did Jesus exist?

Possibly.

Probably, even.

There is evidence which says that he does, but it is evidence which, in my opinion, needs to be treated with a lot of caution.

There are odd Biblical quotes, which indicate, to me, that Jesus could have existed. So it It may just be possible to tease out information, from the Gospels and / or other parts of the New Testament, in support of the hypothesis that Jesus really did live.

Indeed, it is the New Testament evidence, upon which Bart Ehrman relies ~ and he really is the expert on this subject.

* * *

Did Julius Caesar exist?

Yes. There is a plethora of evidence.

We must always be careful, when it comes to ancient evidence, but that for Caesar is so compelling that it is extremely likely to be true.

Is there more and / or better evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than for Julius Caesar?

No; definitely not.

* * *

Jesus Christ or Julius Caesar ~ who is more likely to have been a real person?

I would say that Julius Caesar was definitely real. The available evidence supports this.

Jesus may have been real. Most experts think that he was, but the evidence is the Bible, which is biased and full of myth and miracle, so less reliable, in my opinion.

To answer the question, I think that Julius Caesar is more likely to have been a real person (but this does not, necessarily, mean that Jesus was not a real person).

What do we mean by: 'Was Jesus a real person?'

Edit (30 July 2012): One More Thing!

What do we mean, when we ask whether or not someone was a real person?

Isn't it that we want to know whether someone of a certain name, with certain relationships, who did certain things, actually existed and did those things?

Was Julius Caesar the person described to us by history? Was he who he / history says that he was? Did he live when and where they say he lived? Did he do what he is supposed to have done?

As far as I am aware, historians accept that most, if not all, of what is reported about Caesar was true, or probably true.

Now let us look at Jesus. Was he the person described to us by history? Was he who history / theology says that he was? Did he live when and where they say he lived? Did he do what he is supposed to have done?

Men with a name equivalent to 'Jesus' definitely lived in what has come to be known as the Holy Land and, if the Jesus of Christianity did live, then it probably was around 2000 years ago ~ though the Christmas Day birth story is certainly a myth.

Since the name of this particular 'Jesus' has been remembered, then it is possible that he really was a charismatic religious leader of some kind. It is possible. Of course, over the years his apparent personality may have changed, as the stories changed. It may even be that 'Jesus' was a combination of several local men.

Was he the son of Mary? Did he have 12 disciples? Was he close to Mary Magdalen? Was he a carpenter / builder? Did he work miracles? Did he raise people from the dead. Did he, himself, rise from the dead? Was he the result of a virgin birth? Did he cause uproar in the Temple? Was he crucified? Was he born in Nazareth? Was he a Galilean? What did he look like? Did he really say what he is supposed to have said? Did he think that he was 'Son of God'? Did he give us 'The Lord's Prayer'?

Can we answer any of this with any certainty?

No we cannot.

Was Jesus 'God incarnate'?
Was he 'Son of God'?

Did 'Jesus' exist ~ as the person / God whom Christians worship?
Can we answer these questions?

No we cannot ~ but we can say that, whatever evidence may or may not exist for the one-time existence of Jesus, there is no evidence to support the existence of that divine Jesus, who became central to the world religion that is Christianity.

Julius Caesar was who history says he was.

Jesus Christ may (or may not) have existed, but it is highly unlikely that he was who the Church says he was.

Copyright

I acknowledge, with gratitude, and would recommend, the sources that have helped me:

'Did Jesus Exist?' by Bart Ehrman.

'The Jesus Dynasty' by James D Tabor

'Who Was Jesus?' by Don Cupitt and Peter Armstrong

The Bible.

Also all of the other books and articles that I have read, and all of the discussions that I have enjoyed, over the years, which have helped me to draw my conclusions. Thank you!

Quotes have been credited accordingly.

I am also grateful to Wikimedia Commons, for the use of images.

My own work is copyright Tricia Mason. All Rights Reserved.

I hope that I have not made any errors, and apologise if I have.

Notes:

I am not a mythicist, though I have found some mythicist literature intriguing.

I was also intrigued by the ideas of Luigi Cascioli and Barbara Thiering.

I consider myself to be agnostic.

This HubPages article was inspired by another:

'Is there evidence for Jesus?' by Miles Armbruster [No longer available]

Roman Gods - Guy de la Bedoyere

Edit: Thallus

I have seen mention of Thallus, as someone whose evidence may support the existence of Jesus.

However, Wikipedia notes that 'No work of Thallus survives.'

Here is a quote about him from Richard Carrier:

'We know next to nothing about Thallus or his works. We don't even know if he wrote only one book or several. The only information we have about him, even his name, comes entirely from Christian apologetic sources beginning in the late 2nd century, and that information is plagued with problems.' [Richard Carrier, 1999]

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/thallus.html

More by this Author


Comments 111 comments

DFiduccia profile image

DFiduccia 4 years ago from Las Vegas

Wow, this was like a dissertation for a PhD. You presented your case and clearly stated both sides of the argument of a sensitive theme for today’s society and probably for some hubbers. I like hubs that are about controversial topics, and I’m curious to see what type of response you’ll receive. Voted up.

DF


Alex Jose profile image

Alex Jose 4 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio

I loved the way how you have differentiated about both Jesus Christ and also Julies Caesar. I loved the way you have brought out this topic so i voted up for this one as interesting.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello DFiduccia :)

Thank you very much for your very positive response. Much appreciated! I'm glad that you enjoyed this.

I do try to see all sides of an argument, whatever my personal thoughts ~ so thanks!


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Alex :)

Thank you!

I'm really happy that you liked this article.

Good responses make researching and writing worthwhile :)


Old Geezer profile image

Old Geezer 4 years ago from Newport, Oregon

You are marvelous, Trish. Simply marvelous. I hope you enjoy putting together a blog like this as much as I enjoy reading them.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello 'Old Geezer' :)

You are very, very kind! :)

Thank you so much!

I do enjoy the research ~ and I am really pleased that you enjoy the results!!


RachaelLefler profile image

RachaelLefler 4 years ago from Illinois

Great job, excellent research. It's tough to tackle a controversial topic but I think you did well explaining your case. Personally I think there was probably a rabbi Jesus who existed, I'd see him as a wise mystic, but no one can prove that he was divine in origin, performed miracles, or rose on the third day after being crucified. It just seems that he had a following who did believe these things that survived a long time and eventually became the first organized Church establishments.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Rachael :)

Thanks for reading and for your very positive comments!

Although I think that there is a good chance that Jesus was real, I am still not 100% convinced that he existed, in spite of what all the experts seem to believe.

If he was real, then, whether he was an apocalyptic preacher, or a zealous freedom fighter, or both, I cannot say, but I do not think that he was divine in any way.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 4 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Trish M, Very well put together and supported. While researching for my hub on this topic, I found that Christians consider references to early Christians to be the same as references to Jesus. That is one of the places they are getting more evidence from. What do you think about that practice?


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Cam :)

Thanks for your comment.

I suppose that one could argue that there couldn't have been Christians, without Jesus Christ, but, of course, that isn't true.

There have been increasing numbers of Christians in the world, since Jesus Christ hasn't been in it ~ and with no real proof of his existence, thousands of people are willing to praise him, love him, rely on him, live and die for him.

I think that the Bible presents information, which indicates that Jesus may well have existed ~ but there is no actual proof and the evidence we have is not reliable.

If Jesus did exist, then we can only say that he may have been a preacher / teacher; people may have thought that he was the Messiah; he may have led a band of insurrectionists; he may have been crucified.

As far as I can tell, others existed, who did the same thing, so, even if Jesus did exist, what can that really tell us? ~ Little of any consequence, I would say.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 4 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

I agree. I was amazed at how few incontrovertible references there are to an actual man named Jesus who went around teaching and had a band of merry followers. Very, very few. Christians deny this and it is the very ones who deny it who have never cracked a book other than the Bible to prove it to themselves one way or the other. And they never will because while they say that such an exercise would show a lack of faith, they are really afraid of what they might find. I know this to be true because that was me for fifty years.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi :)

It's interesting, Cam, that you changed your mind, after half a century. :)

I considered myself a Christian, when I was a child, because it's just the way the world was, but, even then, I discussed the issues. By my teens, I was having full scale debates with my Scripture teachers and Sunday School leaders. (They used to pray for me, and throw me out of meetings, when I was 12 or 13 :) ) I remained a fearing doubter for a decade or two and then decided that if a Bishop (David Jenkins of Durham) could have doubts, then so could I ~ and a weight was lifted from my shoulders.

I feel far happier as a seeking, questioning, doubting agnostic than I ever did as a frightened, doubting Christian :)


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

A most scholarly work. Very much appreciated. If you were a frightened doubting Christian, and now happy, I would stick with the happy. Looks like a lot of effort to disprove Jesus as a man. Whatever he was, if He keeps us expending this much effort into understanding His existence, that is pretty strong evidence that something existed.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Eric. :)

Thanks for reading.

I have no idea whether or not Jesus was a real man. I actually think that there is a good chance that he was. What surprises me is the number of people who are certain ~ without any real proof.

What does exist, of course, is religion ~ and, for whatever reason, religion has always had a very strong hold on mankind.


whowas 4 years ago

Trish_M,

I can only say...SUPERB! This a beautifully presented, cogently argued case and finally debunks this ridiculous meme about there being more evidence for Jesus than Julius.

You must, of course, be aware that it is likely the majority of people who say this have absolutely no idea what they are talking about but have simply grabbed the soundbite to bolster their belief.

Wonderful stuff and, even if I wasn't partisan, a really good read.

I don't have any truck with some of your commenter's frail attempts to suggest that the presence of a world religion in any sense justifies a belief in the historicity of its mythologized founder. That argument has no more logical validity than the 'the Bible is true because it says so' stuff.

Reasoning with people of faith is a little futile in my experience, however. After all, if you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.

Great work and an intellectual delight to read. Thank you.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello Whowas :)

Thank you very much indeed for your very kind words! Much appreciated!

I am very pleased that you enjoyed this item ; I certainly enjoyed researching it.

What still surprises me is that so many acadenic experts seem to have absolutely no doubts at all about the reality of Jesus.

I think that he may well have lived; but I cannot see how any of the available evidence could be considered anything like real proof.

Perhaps, if one breathes the rarified air of the theological department, then there seems to be little question on the subject, and it's only on the outside that there are doubters???


whowas 4 years ago

Certainly. The theology department has nothing to do with history. It should be a sub-department of fantasy fiction. They are just making it up. It's as simple as that.

Jesus may have existed but it is the myth that people debate, discuss or believe in. After all, the Jesus of the Mormons and that of the Catholics, The Pentecostalists, the Gnostics, the Hindus and so on are all very different Jesuses. It is highly unlikely that any historical Jesus would have the least understanding of anything that any of the churches get up to.

Personally, I think Jesus is insignificant and in the broader march of future history will be no more considered than say, I don't know, Nerthus or any of the other gods that nobody worships any more.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi.

Yes, I agree, Whowas :)

No-one suggests that Hercules was real ~ and, even if he was, it would make no real difference to anything.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 4 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

whowas, I agree with most of what you said, except that Jesus will grow insignificant in history. It has been ingrained in humanity for two thousand years. I don't know of another world religion that lasted that long and faded. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that it will be continuously revived by the faithful.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

You may be right, Cam. In some countries (as with certain religions) faith seems to be getting weaker, but not everywhere. I think that Europe and the Americas could be compared, and major differences found.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Sometimes I see someone suffering a broken heart. Sometimes I see people without hope, in despair. Sometimes I see a small child run and hug their mother in love. Sometimes I see such acts of kindness that it blows me away. When I am conscious of such things, I feel it deeply inside myself. Some do not have empathy and some to not have love and cannot feel what others feel. Too bad. I know Christ is/was real. I feel it. To me he is very real because I feel. Just to me it is sad when others cannot feel the love.


whowas 4 years ago

Hi cam8510,

I see your point but in overall terms, 2,000 years is peanuts for a religion.

There's a reasonable case to be made for the existence of an earth-goddess religion in prehistory that may have endured for close to 25, 000 years and has only recently been 'revived' by modern pagans.

But there again, their religion was made up in the early fifties by Gerald Gardner and probably has no resemblance other than the imagery it uses to the prehistoric religion it claims as its ancestor.

In any case Christianity is already fragmenting into many different religions - and then there's the feminist christian movement with its 'Christa' rather than 'Christ' and so on.

Little by little, because it is a sociological phenomenon and not a divine revelation the whole thing will morph out of all recognition (as it already has from the days of Saul of Tarsus, who I think is the real founder of 'christianity.')

I would say that, in time, it is probable that the names of Jesus, Mohammad, Krishna, Jehovah and so on will all be forgotten or consigned to the museum archives.

With any luck, religion in its entirety will. :)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Eric. :)

Thanks fotr commenting.

As a historian, I am looking at historic evidence; not at faith or feelings.

Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Personally, I don't think that one needs to believe in religious stories in order to love, to feel love, to give love.

Either way, thoughts, feelings, faith, belief, etc, relate to theology, not to history.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Please what ever you do, do not tell, Sampson and Delila, Cleopatra and her men. Henry the 8th., any of the Czars, and even John the Baptist, and of course not Helen of Troy. Pocahontas and Hillary not leaving Bill are epic and shaped our history. Armed forces that Love their country.

How can a historian not see the cause and effect of feelings and faith? Whether or not the belief was true, often the belief caused the action.

Christ is not just a religious story, He is a cause of abundant charity and compassion that has in fact changed the world. Of course the Crusades may be an opposite story -- nevertheless caused by Christ.


whowas 4 years ago

Hi Trish_M - I wish there was a 'like' button on these comments! :)

Hi Eric,

You do not have a monopoly on human sentiment, you know!

Feelings, like thoughts, are electrochemical events and common to all creatures with complex nervous systems. Nor is it in any sense necessary or even useful to believe in gods, fairies, angels, ghosts (holy or otherwise) in order to have empathy.

I would also argue with your apparent epistemology that personal feelings are a very unreliable source of anything that could justifiably be called 'knowledge.'

As you have given your personal testimony here, perhaps I might give mine?

I can say with my hand on my heart that since I stepped out of the fog of faith and into the light of reason, I have begun to approach an understanding of myself and reality that fills me with more wonder than could possibly come from the comparatively shallow and prescriptive gamut of self-righteous religious sentiments.

And do you know, the knowledge of my kinship with all living and non-living things in the unfolding Universe, from stardust to microbes, has led to a far richer and more profound empathy with everything and everyone than the facile and brutal bronze-age mythologies of christianity could ever hope to inspire.

In any case, it seems at best monstrously naïve to dismiss the rather excellent and logically argued historical case this hub presents on the grounds of a simple prejudice of feeling. What is the value in that?

All the very best to you. :)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello Eric :)

Of course feelings and faith have effects. A belief in all that constitutes Christianity has had huge effects. One example is the horror known as Crusades. Another is the horror known as the Spanish Inquisition. But, is it necessary for Jesus to have been real, for people to have carried out these atrocities in his name? ~ No.

Do you think that, since certain pagan people believed that their gods wanted them to rip people's hearts out, to appease a volcano, that these gods must, therefore, have been real? ~ I very much doubt it. Beliefs and feelings are beliefs and feelings. They cannot be accepted as evidence of anything.

Now, it may surprise you ~ and Whowas, too ~ to learn that I, and people very close to me, have had our fair share of experiences that might be termed 'apparently supernatural'. I cannot explain them, but I do not feel that I should offer them as evidence of the existence of a supernatural realm. I don't know what the explanations might be. It may all relate to the subconscious mind ~ individual or mass. Whatever the explanation, these experiences are the reason that I call myself agnostic, rather than atheist.

However, this is not relevant to the question about whether there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for the existence of Julius Caesar. This article is about history, not theology, but, as I wrote therein, '... this 'debate' is not really concerned with Julius Caesar; it is an attempt to prove that Jesus was a real man ..... Christians want to prove that, not only was Jesus a real man, but also that he was a real God.'

I cannot say, for definite, that Jesus didn't exist; I have no idea whether or not he existed. Indeed, I actually think that there is a good chance that he was real. But, even if he was, this does not mean that he was God incarnate. I am not even convinced that the Gospels actually indicate that he was.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi again Whowas :)

I should add that I am much happier as a doubting agnostic, than I ever was as a fearful doubting Christian :)


whowas 4 years ago

Hi Trish_M,

I'm not surprised that you have had experiences that you cannot explain - so have I, I'm sure we all have. But as you rightly say, that means only that you have encountered the unexplained. The universe is more unexplained than it is explained - and that is exactly the place where science begins its attempts to understand. It begins with what it doesn't know. What excites the scientific muscle to start twitching is always the current of the unexplained.

This hub is a historical analysis. And an excellent and thorough one. But there is little chance of getting someone who believes that Jesus not only existed but still exists and is god to be able to take any text that mentions him as having no theological implications. The mindset is already convinced of its explanation and closed to doubt and objectivity.

Anyway, this has been a gas but I've got 'don't get caught up in a religious debate' alarm bells going off in my head so I'd just like to say once more that I think this is a great history hub that I thoroughly enjoyed and is beautifully written.

And to Eric - I sincerely wish you well on your journey through life and I've enjoyed the prompt that you have given me to think things through. All the best to you.

Thank you both :)


whowas 4 years ago

Hi Trish_M,

We're a bit out of synch. !

Yes, I'm sure you are!

But it isn't too difficult to take that final step and accept that the whole god thing is so improbable and so eminently explicable in simple psychological and sociological terms as to no longer really merit the expenditure of your energy either in terms of doubt or faith.

But that's probably the devil talking through me. :)


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

A couple, 40 something + are walking down the beach hand in hand. Wedding band and rings glistening in the sun. Three 20ish young adults surround them and look just like them. There are hugs and kisses and tenderness and playfulness. It is their 25th wedding anniversary. Are you saying you cannot see their love? And then you just have to ask...... They all respond that their love is through Jesus Christ whom they all know and Love. Are you now prepared to tell me that Jesus Christ is not real? And then are you Trish going to tell me you are happier without such Love? (whatever your answers that is cool with me I just want to understand)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Whowas:)

Just to clarify, my agnostisism relates to the facts that we mentioned: ie that there are still things that are unexplained. While they are unexplained, I remain agnostic.

I am not agnostic about Apollo, Odin or Yahweh. I believe that they are all attempts to explain the unexplained.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello Eric :)

You are taking this discussion where it was never meant to go. I have written a number of hubs relating to beliefs, but this one is purely historical.

Is there more or better (or even equal) evidence for Jesus Christ than there is for Julius Caesar? ~ I don't think that there is. Theological experts disagree with me, but I, personally, believe that many of them are biased because of their religious faith.

How could a Christian not believe that Jesus Christ was a real person? That would make no sense. So an argument of faith is made to replace an argument of reason. If Christians wish to believe that Jesus was / is God, then that is their choice, but, in my opinion, it is a choice based on faith and feelings, rather than evidence.

As I said, many experts would disagree with me, but my hub explains why I disagree with them.

Eric, I have been married for over 25 years and have three wonderful grown-up children. Our house is full of happiness, love and laughter. Please do not assume that it isn't, just because we do not share your religious opinions.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 4 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Thank you, Whowas and Eric, for your comments and for the discussion :)

***

Also a spelling correction: agnosticism. Sorry :)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Rob W contacted me after looking at this article and adding some related comments / information. Readers may find this very interesting:

Rob W:

Hello. I liked your Hub article, "Jesus/Julius" I just want to share this with you.

Jesus is the personification of the Imperial cult of Caesar.

Just sharing knowledge. Fact check yourself,or just discard.

There is no epigraphs, or literary sources to support the crucifixion outside Biblical texts.

The "tropaion" is a sacred trophy/sun symbol for the ancient Romans. The tropaion was decorated with armor,and was reserved for the spirits of there Gods. The trophy/victory symbol was displayed after a victorious battle in tribute to there Gods. Prisoners were bound at the base, and never placed on it for it is sacred.Only victory thru divinity was it's tribute for public display.

Cruci/crux (Latin) replaced the homophones translation of the "Latin/Greek" cremo/kremo burn/to hang which makes literary sources sound as if crucifixion was common during the era of the mythical Jesus.It is misquoted to make it look like it was,but it is only cremation of executed prisoners to stop the spread of flies that carry disease.Only when Christianity was established a X shaped crux/cruci was started to be used for torture. Ancient Romans also made sacrifices of cremation of animal intestines because they believed there Gods, and passed on ancestors took up the smoke that rise up in air.

Jesus is modeled after Divus Iulius Christos aka Julius Caesar,and his resurrection thru the comet of 44 B.C.E. during his funeral games in the skies above Rome. Julius Caesar held the title of Christos (anointed with oil),and he was a Christos to his celestial mother the goddess Venus (God of love).

Caesar's wax effigy was hanged (Kremo) on a Tropaion for the public to see his stab wounds.Caesar's body was then cremated (cremo) on a pyre. The people of Rome went in a frenzy dipping there fingers in the ashes,then rubbing the ash on there foreheads to be one with there divine Christos (Ash wednesday). The conspirators of senate is Satan.

Just like the sacred Tropaion the crown of thorns is the "Civic laurel crown" reserved for honor/sacred use,and would never be used by Roman soldiers to mock someone else, and especially a condemned prisoner in public display.

Comet is derived thru "kometes" latin/greek for long hair. This is why medieval paintings depict Jesus with long hair for it represents Caesar's comet. The Bible is more in line with the hair of a Judean, but the medieval depictions are of Caesar's comet influence.

There are no literary sources outside the Bible that support the existence of Jesus. Only an obvious medieval forgery in the writings of the historian Josephus who was not a direct witness in the first place. Other nonbiblical references refer to the title of "Christos", and not Jesus.

Jesus Christ is a transformation of the imperial cult of Caesar that started under the Pontifex Maximus Augustus Caesar (Julius's adopted son Octavian),and lasted over 200 years. further transformation into Christianity was under emperor Constantine with the council of Nicea.The early Christogram "Chi Ro" is actually the Julian star aka Caesar's comet. The imperial cult of Caesar closely match the Gospels,and are only a distorted mirror of the triumphs of the divine God Caesar.

The Holy Trinity, and the core of the old testament are plagiarisms of ancient Egyptian,Babylonian,and Sumerian texts that was preserved on papyrus, stone walls, clay tablets, or just plain old oral tradition.The 3 main religions of today are a consolidation,and a rewrite of old Paganism (country dweller) beliefs.

Angels are ancient Roman "Victoria", and ancient Greek "Nike" inwich evolved from ancient Sumerian epigraphs of "human bird hybrids" or "half bird humanoids". To deny the Holy Spirit is actually Denying Horus the Sun God that protects you.

-------------------------------------------------------

(Wiki base reference only)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropaion

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civic_Crown

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet_Caesar

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chi_Ro

Do an image search for "tropaion" "caesar's comet chi ro" "caesar coin".

Cannabis community forum thread if interested (sign up to see pics).

http://forum.grasscity.com/pandoras-box/1201905-re...

Search "Rape of Persephone" for Eve,and Nephilim origin.

Ancient Roman God "Janus" for Alpha,and Omega origin.

Pentagram,and Lucifer is the orbit/retrograde,and personification of Venus.

Hell is an adaption of the ancients concept of underworld wich is below horizon were

the planet Gods went to following the ecliptic plane.

Devil horns are the constellation Taurus inwich the planets get basketed following the ecliptic plane.

I usually get thanked,but if you are confused,or angry about this?Then this is simply not for you.

Fact check your self,and what you glean to be true for yourself then please pass it on.

Take it or leave it...I am just sharing knowledge.Thanks for any interest.

Have a nice day....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMVAUcFj3Aw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzU4bPkWVyY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1ty6-WtH1Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91O1IqzHJN4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH_xD9cMDzA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYWWtIVQlrc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGfqPUwD3pU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMvME_k5vx4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QigqnVZQIl8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31cOKXxn1NU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwfY069iPVI

Tropaion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

en.wikipedia.org

* * * * *

Also:

Jesus clearly states that one is exempt from judgment when one believes in him. When Xtrians say that no scholar refutes the existence of Jesus they are lying. The Christogram "Chi Ro" is actually the "Julian Star" that Constantine used. This symbol is actually Caesar's comet. 44 B.C.E. comet in the sky during Divus Iulius Christos's funeral games.Julius Caesar was a Christos to his celestial mother the Goddess Venus (God of love). Christos is a title (anointed with oil).

The Tropaion is a sacred trophy for victory. The cross like symbol was a stick or tree with armor/weaponry placed on it mimicking an upright person. This was reserved for the spirits of there Gods.Prisoners would always be bound at the base,and would be sacrilegious to put anything not of divinity on it. The Civic Laurel Crown was a symbol of high honor reserved for honorable,or holy citizens.

Creation, Adam & Eve,the Flood etc are rewrites of Sumerian mythos. wiki/Alulim

Crucify replaced the homophones translation of Latin "cremo" cremate,Greek kremo "to hang".Caesar was cremated (cremo),and a wax effigy was hanged (kremo) on a Tropaion.Pontifex Maximus aka Augustus Caesar formed the imperial cult of Caesar which lasted for over 200 years. Augustus was Julius's adopted son Octavian who was the son of the God Apollo thru a virgin birth by a night visit by a serpent. Holy Trinity is plagiarism by 175-225 C.E.Theologians of the the Osiris mythos.

The Christian symbols the "crown of thorns",and the "cross" prove historically that the crucifixion is pure myth.The "Civic Laurel crown", and the "Tropaion", are sacred symbols to the ancient Romans. Any ancient Roman citizen, or soldier using these symbols,or resemblance of said symbols in the manner described in the fictional gospels would not happen. ...........

Lucifer "Shining One" personification of planet Venus. The "Morning Star" rises then falls from grace as the Sun rises.The "Pentagram" is the orbit/retrograde of Venus.

The 5 conjunction points in relation to Earth forms the 5 pointed star. Hell is taken from the ancients concept of "Underworld".The personified planet Gods follow the ecliptic plane below the Earth's horizon. Angels are "Nike/Victoria" of ancient Greece/Rome mythos. Satan=the


solx72 profile image

solx72 3 years ago


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi solx72.

Yes, I have read a number of items where descriptions of 'Jesus' are shown to be extremely similar to descriptions of other gods.

It is a fascinating subject.

Do you think that this offers anything useful specifically to the debate over whether Jesus or Caesar is more likely to have been real a real person, based on historical evidence?


solx72 profile image

solx72 3 years ago

Hi Trish.I am Rob W.I figured to add what I sent,but I see you previously did.Thanks

I see attributes of other Gods/beliefs as a distraction as well as truth.

We have the argument of silence where no historian,or writers at the time of the supposed Jesus Christ was alive mention him.We have in the NT people gathering around everywhere he shows up,people lowering an invalid thru a hole in a roof,because the house's doorway is unpassable,he sends out his twelve to cast out demons in his name etc,but nobody mentions him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:TrumpetPower!/Je...

The earliest reference to the Winter Solstice where the Sun rises in the same spot for three days then rebirths into a new season is from ancient Sumeria.The Goddes Inanna in her journey to the underworld where her sister turned her into a corpse,hung her on a hook for 3 days/nights.Demons were created from dirt to rescue her body,then she was revived with life giving water.Her journey goes thru 5 gatekeepers that take articles from her,and this mimics the Morning Star Venus in it's orbit/retrograde in relation to Earth.Inanna's symbol is the Pentagram which are the five points Venus makes when looking at a bird's eye view of the orbital plain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFDBeTdPKig

In ancient Greece the Goddess Demeter (God of harvest) lets the crops frost over in search of her daughter Persephone.If one does a search of "Rape of Persephone" one can see where the OT gets Fallen Angels (Nephilim),and Eve eating the Apple partialy from.

Here is a good lecture on borrowed mythology to make Genesis.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwUZOZN-9dc


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Rob ~ I thought that it was you :)

Yes, there are all sorts of parallels with other religions. This is something that does interest me. And certainly I think that these are clues that Christianity is not everything that it is made out to be.

The point with this article is that a respected university professor /theological historian has indicated that the evidence for the existence of Jesus is at least as good as the evidence for the existence of Jesus.

He does not suggest that Jesus was a god, but, rather, that he was an apocalyptic preacher (see: 'Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium' by Bart D. Ehrman).

So this item is about the existence of Jesus as just a man ~ perhaps a teacher and / or preacher. It is not about all the dogma that has been added to his story and to the religion based upon 'his story'.

Do you think that Jesus existed? Do you think that there is good evidence for his existence?


solx72 profile image

solx72 3 years ago

I do not believe in a historical Jesus thru my research,and I give you great kudos for your research.

Christians hold dearly to agnostic scholar Bart Ehram,but he is just an apologist

from seminary schooling.

Here in timeframe 4:23-4:29 he admits there is no evidence for Jesus during his

supposed lifetime.Then he does an apologetic throw sand in your eyes dance with lies,

and silly assumptions.He is good at word play when one listens close to his many examples that insult the intellect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUQMJR2BP1w

To say there is just as much evidence for Jesus as for Julius Caesar is the highest

dishonesty,and people that want to believe are not being truthfull to themselves.

This play on ignorrance just snowballs in outrageous claims that I come across by believers almost everywhere.

I believe Jesus is the rewritten legacy of Julius Caesar.The Imperial Cult of Caesar that his adopted son Octavius Augustus Caesar Pontifex Maximus (head priest) Divi Fillius (son of God) made the official religion of Rome at the turn of the common era evolved into the

messianic figure that is Jesus Christ.Jesus just brings Judean,and Pagan attributes to the table to make it more pallatable to people (can you picture people worshipping Julius today?).

Julius Caesar was a Christos(*title).Gave his life's blood,was seen as a God/son of a God.The Comet of 44 BCE was seen as his resurrection.His wax effigy was nailed to a cross,was called a savior,a craftsmen (military strategy),and related to the Dove symbol (celestial mother Venus).Followers rubbed his pyre ash on their foreheads.His worship was made official thru decree of the Imperial Cult of Caesar which lasted 3 centuries.Caesar was a forgiver of sins thru the Goddess Clemencia.

There is more research to be made,but from what I see this fills in the gaps that not

many people are aware of.

Book 8 of the Commentaries on the Gallic War.

Caesar saw that his work could never be brought to a successful conclusion if similar revolts were allowed to break out constantly in different parts of the county; and his clemency was so well known that no one would think him a cruel man if for once he took severe measures. So he decided to deter all others by making an example of the defenders of Uxellodunum. All who had borne arms had their hands cut off and were then let go, so that everyone might see what punishment was given to evildoers.

Mark 10:43

If your hand causes you to sin cut it off.

Plutarch, The Parallel Lives The Life of Julius Caesar p447

4 He also wrote poems and sundry speeches which he read aloud to them, and those who did not admire these he would call to their faces illiterate Barbarians, and often laughingly threatened to hang them all. The pirates were delighted at this, and attributed his boldness of speech to a certain simplicity and boyish mirth. 5 But after his ransom had come from Miletus and he had paid it and was set free, he immediately manned vessels and put to sea from the harbour of Miletus against the robbers. He caught them, too, still lying at anchor off the island, and got most of them into his power.

Mark 4:1-4:2

On another occasion Jesus began to teach by the lake.The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake,while all the people were along the shore at the water's edge.2 He taught them many things by parables,and in his teachings said:

Jesus=Son of God.

Julius Caesar=Son of the Goddess Venus.

Jesus=Crown of thorns.

Julius Caesar=Crown of Laurel.

Jesus=Betrayed by Judus.

Julius Caesar=Betrayed by Brutus.

Jesus=Speared in the side by Longinus a Roman soldier with a lance.

Julius Caesar=Stabbed by conspirators with one being Gaius Cassius Longinus.

Jesus=Served in Gallilee.

Julius Caesar=Served in Gallia (Gaul).

Jesus =Was Batptised in the Jordan river.

Julius Caesar=Rubicon river where Julius Caesar uttered the famous phrase "alea iacta est" "Let the die be cast" when his army crossed it.

Jesus=Carpenter.

Julius Caesar=Strategic bridge maker heralded in miraculous time with his

advancing armies by building a bridge across the Rhine,and making a show of force in Germanic territory.

Jesus=The Christian symbol of a dove with an olive branch in it’s beak represents peace,and a sign of the Holy spirit."Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him".

Julius Caesar=Doves were used as symbols for the Canaanite mother goddess Asherah, the Phoenician goddess Tanit, and the Roman goddesses Venus (Caesar's celestial mother).

Jesus=Star of Bethlehem symbolised his birth.

Julius Caesar=Julian star symbol of Caesar's comet that symbolised his birth into heaven.

Jesus=John the Baptist head Decapitated by Herod on request of his daughter,and wife.

Julius Caesar=Caesar has his former ally,and former son inlaw (Caesar's daughter Julia whom previously passed away while giving birth) Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus severed head interred in Alexandria,on ground reserved for a new temple to the goddess Nemesis.

Jesus=The first disciples are also disciples of John the Baptist and are

Andrew,and brother Simon Peter.

Julius Caesar=Started out with 2 supporters Quintus Scribonius Curio,and Mark Antony,whom were also friends of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus,then helped Caesar in the civil war against Pompeius.

Jesus=Entry into Jerusalem on a Donkey before his death (Greeted with crowds waving palm branches).

Julius Caesar=Triumphant entry into Rome before his death would have been on a chariot with someone holding a golden laurel crown over above his head.(Greeted with crowds waving palm branches).

Jesus=Relationship with Mary magdelene (mary of the Tower).

Julius Caesar=Relationship with Cleopatra VI (Pharos Lighthouse of Magdala).

Jesus=Visited by Nicodemus (Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin) by night.

Julius Caesar=Accused by political enemies of having a secret homosexual affair with king Nicomedes IV of Bithynia.

Jesus=Hated by the Sanhedrin who plans his murder.

Julius Caesar=Hated by the Senate who plans his murder.

Jesus=Accused by his enemies of proclaiming himself "King".

Julius Caesar=Accused by his enemies of trying to be "King".

Jesus=Portrayed as wearing the red robes of Roman royalty.

Julius Caesar=Wore the red robes of Roman royalty.

Jesus=Crucified on the 15th of Nisan.

Julius Caesar=Stabbed to death on the Ides of March (15th).

(pyre ashes wiped on forehead by followers)

Jesus=Hung on a cross.

Julius Caesar =Wax effigy hung on a cross (Tropaion).

Jesus=Affinity for the poor.

Julius Caesar=Affinity for the people.

Jesus=Called the Christ by his followers.

Julius Caesar=Christos to his celestial mother Venus (Goddess of love).

Jesus=Called Savior by his followers.

Julius Caesar=Called Savior of Rome by his subjects.

Jesus=The coming of the Kingdom.

Julius Caesar=The coming of the Roman empire (Under adopted son Augustus Caesar).

Jesus=Roman soldiers cast lots for his bloody robe.

Julius Caesar=Followers fought over possession of his bloody robe.

Jesus=Ascended into Heaven as a God.

Julius Caesar=Ascended into Heaven as a God thru the comet of 44 B.C.E.

Ancient Romans would add water to wine,and Jesus turned water into wine.

Jesus=No proof of existence except for those that want,or have been indoctrinated to believe.

Julius Caesar=Actually existed,and was many things including some of the same (in historical context) things believers in Jesus was.

I believe there are more examples to be found by the serious researcher.

I suggest people interested to look at lectures by Robert M Price,and Richard Carrier

for the historicity of Jesus,and go beyond the wall of apologists.

Any believers in Jesus reading this just remember that the Quran of islam needs a historical Jesus,and any incident of violence by Muslims is in part thanks to the belief in Jesus.Many Muslims would testify,or give their life to Allah does not make it true of what they believe,so neither would Christian testimonials.


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 3 years ago from Addis Ababa

Jesus Christ, a.k.a., "the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead", i.e., "the first and the last" with multiplier effects has no competition whatsoever!

(Rev. 1: 4-20)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello again, Rob.

I made a mistake in my reply to you. As you guessed, I meant that Ehrman think that there is as much evidence for Jesus Christ as for Julius Caesar. What surprised me was that he claimed that all experts on the subject agreed with him. I have been in touch with an expert on the subject and he does not agree. So I suppose it's a case of choosing one's experts :)

Your evidence for the Jesus story being a re-writing of the Julius Caesar story is interesting and one that I had not really encountered, before. However, I have certainly seen many stories about other gods and heroes which parallel the Jesus story.

Jesus may or may not have existed. I have no idea. Some of what Ehrman says, which indicates that he did and that he was a preacher, makes sense. So it's possible. But whether Jesus did or did not exist, it seems certain that people showered him with their own myths in order to turn him into as 'godman'.

I still don't think that there is as much evidence for Jesus as for Caesar.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi EphremHagos :)

Thanks for reading.

This is a hub about historical evidence, so I would need historical evidence re the lack of competition.


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 3 years ago from Addis Ababa

Hi Trish M :)

The comparison is skewed.

As acknowledged at least by one Apostle (2 Cor. 5:16), historical evidence based on human standards is exclusively applicable to one of your subjects, viz.: Julius Caesar; but has severe limitations in characterization of Jesus Christ about whom knowledge is scarce although perpetually revealed.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello Ephrem.

Thank you for your input. :)

However, in my own opinion (as a historian) I feel that all need to be judged equally by the available historical evidence.


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 3 years ago from Addis Ababa

Hello Trish M.

FOR THE RECORD, your comparison is heavily skewed.

Julius Caesar belongs to the dust bins of history.

Jesus Christ, on the other hand, has literally redefined historical evidence even if Christianity is in blissful ignorance.

The latter can be personally verified by all disciples in the know.

God bless!


solx72 profile image

solx72 3 years ago

I see Bart as an apologist.

Anyone that says Jesus has more,or equal historical evidence for existence as Imperator Gaius Iulius Caesar Pater Patriae Divus Christos is either lying,or repeating lies.

I see the answer for a historical Jesus can be best answered by the evidence,and John 21:25 . :)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Ephrem and Rob :) :)

Have you read Ehrman's book on this subject?

I only felt able to respond properly after I had read it. I think that the most compelling evidence that he cites concerns 'James, the Lord's brother'. If James existed, then presumably his brother existed.

Ehrman is agnostic, but used to be a strong believer. He clams that all experts agree with him on this matter.


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 3 years ago from Addis Ababa

Hi Trish M,

The sooner historians know their handicap the better!

Comparisons are completely futile between the supernatural being, a.k.a. JESUS CHRIST --"born from a virgin" and also "the first- (and the last) born from the dead": both moments knowable by the Holy Spirit; and natural beings, e.g., JULIUS CAESAR and JAMES.

Without personal revelation by the Holy Spirit, there is no knowledge of Jesus Christ.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi again Ephrem :)

I have been involved in numerous discussions about the supernatural aspects of Jesus. Jesus may or may not have been God incarnate / Son of God. But that is a discussion for another article.

This hub is purely about the evidence which exists for Jesus Christ as compared with that for Julius Caesar.

Thus it is not concerned with what Jesus was if he did exist, it is simply about the historical evidence.


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 3 years ago from Addis Ababa

Hi Trish M,

I know what you are saying!

The point is "historical evidence" has been redefined when God's home moved permanently with mankind in spite of our continued denials.


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 3 years ago from Addis Ababa

Trish,

We will not make any progress in comparisons between Jesus Christ and Julius Caesar if we insist on judging the former according to human standards of evidence.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Ephrem :)

As a Believer, you may prefer not to compare Jesus Christ with Julius Caesar. That's understandable. But, while I personally doubt that Jesus was Son of God and cannot be sure whether he even existed, I am not, in this hub, judging Jesus Christ and / or Julius Caesar.

After all, I could say that I believe in Jesus as the divine God Incarnate but still accept that there is little reliable evidence for this.

This article is about evidence, whether or not you or I believe in the divinity of Jesus.

There is a difference between believing in the existence or the divinity of Jesus and noting how much or how little historic evidence exists for his existence or divinity.


solx72 profile image

solx72 3 years ago

Hi Trish

No I did not read Bart's book,but I watched his lectures along with other scholars.I do notice Christians repeat what he says at times.

I do not see enough evidence for a historical Jesus,and to me it is more effort for invention of said character.

Luke: And when they came to the place which is called The Skull(Gol'gotha), there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left.

A wax effigy was nailed to a tropaion to detail wounds inflicted by senators,and shown from the Rostra to the crowd on the forum Romanum.During the late Republic the rostra was used as a place to display the heads of defeated political enemies.Gaius Marius and consul Lucius Cornelius Cinna captured Rome in 87 BC and placed the head of the defeated consul,Gnaeus Octavius on the Rostra.The practice was continued on by Sulla,and Mark Antony, who ordered that Cicero's hands and head be displayed on Caesar's Rostra after the orator's execution as part of the Proscription of 43 bce.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Rob,

Unfortunately I have not studied the Roman period in great detail, so while I know enough to be pretty confidant that Julius Caesar was real and that there is evidence to support this, I'm afraid that I don't know all about the details you give ~ but they do sound very interesting.

My period of study at university was medieval (including just a bit of classical) and early modern.


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 3 years ago from Addis Ababa

Hi Trish,

Any progress in knowledge of Jesus Christ depends on unbiased study of his nature on his own terms.

It is worthy of note that his ID depends on a completely independent self-revelation as human, in his death on the cross, and as divine in his synchronized victory over death defining eternal life and producing sustainable faith.

Perhaps the other "JC" is another fruit of immortality but hardly comparable with the source , Jesus Christ.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Ephrem,

That is a matter of opinion and debate, but it is a totally different subject from the topic of this hub.

Perhaps that would be worth discussing in the forum?


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 3 years ago from Addis Ababa

Opinion, debate, formulation of theory, and testing of hypothesis (under given conditions) are as applicable to knowledge of Jesus Christ as they are to any empirical knowledge.

Jesus Christ himself agrees! (Luke 24: 13 ff.)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Ephrem :)

The thing is that some people will say that they have evidence of Jesus because he has spoken to them or worked through them or revealed himself to them. But that is not the sort of evidence that I, as a historian, am talking about here.

Are there any corroborated, genuine, contemporary records of Jesus? ~ Not as far as I am aware. Thus there is no reliable historical evidence.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

Flavius Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian who was a Pharisee referred to Jesus Christ in the book Jewish Antiquities. Although some doubt the authenticity of the first reference where Josephus mentioned Jesus as the Messiah, Professor Louis H. Feldman of Yeshiva University says that few have doubted the genuineness of the second reference. There Josephus said: “[Ananus the high priest] convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ.” (Jewish Antiquities, XX, 200) Yes, a Pharisee, a member of the sect many of whose adherents were avowed enemies of Jesus, acknowledged the existence of “James, the brother of Jesus.”

The influence of Jesus’ existence was felt through the activities of his followers. When the apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome about 59 C.E., the principal men of the Jews told him: “As regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.” (Acts 28:17-22) They called Jesus’ disciples “this sect.” If they were everywhere spoken against, secular historians would likely report about them, would they not?

Tacitus, born about 55 C.E. and considered one of the world’s greatest historians, mentioned the Christians in his Annals. In the account about Nero’s blaming the great fire of Rome in 64 C.E. on them, he wrote: “Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.” The details of this account match the information regarding the Jesus of the Bible.

Another writer who commented on Jesus’ followers was Pliny the Younger, the governor of Bithynia. In about the year 111 C.E., Pliny wrote to Emperor Trajan, asking how to handle Christians. People who were falsely accused of being Christians, wrote Pliny, would repeat an invocation to the gods and worship the statue of Trajan, just to prove that they were not Christians. Pliny continued: “There is no forcing, it is said, those who are really Christians, into any of these compliances.” That testifies to the reality of the existence of the Christ, whose followers were prepared to give their lives for their belief in him.

After summarizing the references to Jesus Christ and his followers by the historians of the first two centuries, The Encyclopædia Britannica (2002 edition) concludes: “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.” http://bit.ly/ZvQvvd

In fact, there is more historical evidence for the murder and resurrection of Christ than there is for evolution. Indeed, any denial of the historicity of Christ’s resurrection is comparable to denying the US declared its independence in 1776 or that Columbus landed in America in 1492.

In his book "The Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus", Michael Licona provides a list of scholars who attest to the historicity of Christ’s murder and resurrection which includes Brodeur, Collins, Conzelman, Fee, Gundry, Harris, Hayes, Hèring, Hurtado, Johnson, Kistemaker, Lockwood, Martin, Segal, Snyder, Thiselton, Witherington, and Wright.

Concordantly, British scholar N. T. Wright states, "As a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.” (N. T. Wright, “The New Unimproved Jesus,” Christianity Today (September 13, 1993)), p. 26.

Even Gert L¸demann, the leading German critic of the resurrection, himself admits, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”(Gerd L¸demann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 80.)

These are just a minute sampling of the research the massive throng of scholars who all attest to the historicity of Christ’s resurrection - http://amzn.to/13MQiTE

Prominently, in his book, “Justifying Historical Descriptions”, historian C. B. McCullagh lists six tests which historians use in determining what is the best explanation for given historical facts. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests:

1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.

2. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.

3. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.

4. It is not ad hoc or contrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.

5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The hypothesis: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts that belief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.

6. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5). Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as the resurrection solution.

As an aside, when asked, “You accept the historical Jesus?”, Albert Einstein's reply was

“Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.”

–Albert Einstein, from an interview with the Saturday Evening Post


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Yes, as I wrote, "If genuine, the 'Jesus' references, in Josephus's writings, are the best extra-Biblical evidence that we have for him." But, as I also noted, "the earliest surviving Josephus manuscripts date only to the 11th century." I think, therefore, that we need to be careful about accepting them without question.

With regard to Paul, there is no doubt that whoever he was and whatever he did, Christianity, as we know it, harks back to him more than to Jesus - whom the Bible says Paul never even met. The fact that Paul led a sect which supposedly rested on the story of Jesus is not evidence for the existence of Jesus but is evidence of the existence of the 'sect'.

References by Tacitus and others to this sect are, again, evidence for the sect and not for the existence of Jesus. Any references to 'Chrestus' / 'Christus' may or may not relate to Jesus since he was not the only person believed to be the Messiah.

Certainly mention of 'extreme penalty' and 'Pontius Pilatus' do seem to indicate that this does relate to Jesus, but, even so, this may or may not relate to a real person. The story could simply be that - a story.

I accept that 'in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus' but ancient people didn't doubt the existence of Zeus, Apollo, Odin, etc, etc, either.

As for no-one doubting the existence of Jesus before the 18th century, for most of that time they wouldn't have dared for fear of being branded a heretic - and punished accordingly.

Now, to be clear, I am not saying that Jesus did not exist. Most experts think that he did and most of his story makes sense in the context of his time and place. In my opinion, that seems to be the best evidence in favour of his existence. But is there absolute proof? I am not totally convinced, though I do think that it is likely that he did exist

And, to relate to the core of the article, is this evidence for Jesus more reliable or compelling than evidence for the existence of Julius Caesar? - I don't think so.

I am not going to get into debates about divinity, etc, because it is not relevant to this item.

Thanks for commenting :)


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

Thanks!

If I may, what's your take on all the historical evidence for Christ's resurrection?


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello Joseph. :)

I don't think that there is any reliable evidence - but, again, that is for another article. (I may write it one day.) This one is simply to argue against the suggestion that compared to Julius Caesar, there is more / equal evidence for the existence of Jesus.

I will just add that there are numerous theology experts, including 'believers', who also think that the resurrection (and virgin birth) stories are myths.


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 2 years ago from Addis Ababa

Trish _M, Your question is thought-provoking.

The comparison between Jesus Christ and Julius Caesar requires a paradigm shift from HISTORICAL EVIDENCE to an unsung CRITICAL MASS defined in Christ’s death on the cross, a.k.a., "baptism with the Holy Spirit", without which it is impossible for people to know the former.

Paul says the same thing. (1 Cor. 1: 18-31)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

EphremHagos :)

Yes, faith-based certainty is very different from historical-proof-based certainty We should not confuse the two.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

I look forward to reading why you dismiss the Gospels as historical evidence out of hand :)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Joseph,

I don't dismiss the gospels as historical evidence, but I do doubt their reliability. Of course, anything of this nature is historical evidence, but how good is it? How reliable?

For a start we have nothing dating back to the time of Jesus and what we do have is a set of 'good news' stories - ie. they were designed to promote the new religious teaching and were not classed as histories.

Even if we had the 'originals', they still would not be contemporary with Jesus and we have no idea where these stories came from. Did some come from eye-witnesses or were they parables invented to teach and entertain?

In addition, the gospels largely rely upon each other. Thus I am very wary of accepting them as independent / corroborative evidence. This, despite the opinions of the learned Bart Ehrman, whose books I really enjoy.

Since even certain Christian theologians doubt the truth of the resurrection or virgin birth we have to ask how reliable the rest of it is.

I realise that many experts do accept the Gospels as independent sources but I just do not see how this can be. Matthew and Luke may have some independent bits, but they are very alike. And it is clear that Matthew is based on Mark. Meanwhile John is like a vision or dream and it is difficult to take much of it as a true history of events.

Paul's writings are earlier than any of these and he says that he never even met Jesus.

If we are going to distinguish faith from history, then we have to be clear on these matters.

I cannot remember who wrote that the best evidence for Jesus is the background stories behind his life and the events that overtook him within these stories. Thus, I do think that the gospels are important because they are pretty much all we have on one of the best known men in 'history' and they do provide us with this interesting information.

And it is also true that as we go back in time it becomes ever more difficult to be certain of anything.

As I said, though I have some sympathy with some of the ideas of the 'mythicists' and think that they could possibly be correct, at least in part, I think that there is a very strong possibility that Jesus was a real person.

What I would argue against is the suggestion that there is more / better / more reliable / etc. evidence for Jesus Christ than for Julius Caesar. Basically, this is what my hub is saying. I disagree with this idea, even if it is put forward by 'expert theologians'.

I thought that I had put this in the article. Maybe I am mistaken. ~

No, I just checked. All of this seems to be included in the article.

So, Joseph, please could you tell me what are you asking of me that I have not already covered?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

What a curious series of questions and assertions? If I may ask, have you ever read the Gospels in full?


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

What is curious about this?

Over the years I have read most of the gospels - not all of John, though.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

It's curious because, typically, before one critiques a body of works one reads them in full first :)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

I'm afraid I'm bewildered by your comments, Joseph. Have you actually read my hub and my replies, because I have answered your points already?

I have read enough of the gospels to comment and I have read a lot about them, as well. Not having read every sentence of John does not negate what I have said.

I have read enough to know that the synoptics have a lot in common. No-one refutes that. Thus I cannot accept them as individual pieces of evidence.

As for John, I have read enough to know that it, too, has much in common with the others.

I also know from my background reading that none of these is contemporary with Jesus.

Thus I do not have contemporary evidence and neither do I have corroborative evidence. Both are required by the serious historian.

Furthermore, 'gospel' does not mean official history or biography, it means good news story.

Yet, in spite of this, I think that, based on the content - background politics and what happened to Jesus in the stories - it seems likely that the gospels do describe a real person.

What is the problem?


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

The problem is that, while you're certainly entitled to your own opinions casting doubt on the historicity of Jesus, you're not entitled to your own truth:

"Jesus did more than just exist. He said and did a great many things that most historians are reasonably certain we can know about today. .... A hundred and fifty years ago a fairly well respected scholar named Bruno Bauer maintained that the historical Jesus never existed. Anyone who says that today - in the academic world at least - gets grouped with the skinheads who say there was no Holocaust and the scientific holdouts who want to believe the world is flat."

―M A Powell

“Some writers may toy with the fancy of a ‘Christ-myth,’ but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the ‘Christ-myth’ theories.” -Bruce, The New Testament Documents.

"No one. No one in scholarly circles dealing with ancient Judaism and early Christianity, of any religious or non-religious persuasion holds the view that Jesus never existed. You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own truth.”—Larry Hurtado, former Professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology (University of Edinburgh)


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 2 years ago from Addis Ababa

Trish_M, I beg to differ.

Rather than faith-based, the "unsung CRITICAL MASS defined in Christ’s death on the cross, a.k.a., "baptism with the Holy Spirit", is the independent raison d'être for faith, viz.: vision of eternal life.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Joseph, I am still bewildered. I have said that I think Jesus probably did exist but I do not think that there is more or better evidence for his existence that for that of Julius Caesar. So what are you saying is my truth because I'm afraid I'm flummoxed?


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi EphremHagos :)

The thing is, this hub is not about anything related to the divinity of Jesus. It addresses the question of whether or not there is more reliable historical evidence for Jesus Christ than there is for Julius Caesar. It is not about the existence of, or belief in, the Holy Spirit (or lack thereof) it is just about the existence of historical evidence.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

You state in your hub, If Jesus Were Proven to be Son of God / God Incarnate, Would Atheists Become Christians?, that "we don't even have absolute proof that Jesus ever really existed." Do you typically require absolute proof for all of your closely held beliefs?


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Hello Joseph.

' If Jesus Were Proven to be Son of God / God Incarnate, Would Atheists Become Christians?' is the title of a different article and is not related to this one which concerns the amount of evidence available for the existence of Julius Caesar compared to Jesus Christ.

No-one needs proof for their beliefs, Joseph, that is why they are beliefs rather than accepted 'facts'.

But, yes, as a historian, I require as much 'proof' as possible if I am to accept something as truth. Sometimes we do not have absolute proof, but we do have other evidence. This has to be weighed and judged.

In this article I have discussed the available evidence for the existence of Jesus compared to that for the existence of Julius Caesar. Some readers are trying to argue about a different matter altogether.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

Hiya Trish!

It's interesting that the dictionary defines belief as "conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence." What you described, therefore, is more accurately referred to as "credulity."

But going back to what you wrote, it seems that you're saying that you don't actually need absolute proof for your closely held beliefs. Am I understanding you correctly?


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

The Oxford Dictionary defines belief as: 'An acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof', so, as I said, no-one needs proof for their beliefs.

Since 'belief', according to the Oxford dictionary, does not demand proof and credulity is 'a tendency to be too ready to believe that something is real or true', then I would say that 'credulity' might lead to 'belief'.

To quote you: "you don't actually need absolute proof for your closely held beliefs."

Are you using the word 'you' for the word 'one' or are you using it to refer to me, personally?

I would say that one does not require proof for one's closely-held beliefs. That's very clear. Many people's beliefs are based on blind faith and not on any facts / evidence / proof at all.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

"I would say that one does not require proof for one's closely-held beliefs. That's very clear. Many people's beliefs are based on blind faith and not on any facts / evidence / proof at all."

Such as your belief in God's nonexistence, yes? :)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Joseph, I'm sorry but that makes no sense. One cannot prove a negative.

Furthermore, I have not claimed that there is no God.

Furthermore, this argument has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether or not there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus than for Julius Caesar and, therefore, as far as I can see, nothing to do with this article.


Joseph O Polanco profile image

Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

"that makes no sense. One cannot prove a negative."

But doesn't that render your own claim an unrestricted negative ?

In turn , if unrestricted negatives cannot be verified , then no one can prove that no one can prove an unrestricted negative . But if there is absolutely no way to prove that no one can prove an unrestricted negative , it must be possible to substantiate an unrestricted negative .

Which means that your allegation is self-refuting - if it's true , it's false !

Ex : Evidence Santa Claus cannot exist in reality - http://bit.ly/185Tf1D

Now try to apply the same approach to God Almighty.

" I have not claimed that there is no God"

Does this mean you are receptive to all types of evidence for God's existence or are you only interested in scientific evidence?


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

I am interested in any and all evidence - but this is a hub about historical evidence for Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ as real people - ie living human beings who walked our Earth. It is absolutely nothing to do with the existence of God and I do not wish to take this discussion off-topic.


EphremHagos profile image

EphremHagos 2 years ago from Addis Ababa

Trish_M, The line between God and history is very thin. You can be yourself a historical evidence if you are willing to act as "guinea pig" to test the life-transforming power of Christ's diacritical death on the cross. Since 40 years, it has worked for me and my wife.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 2 years ago from The English Midlands Author

Joseph, again, this hub is not about God, or Christ on the cross, or life changing miracles, it is about the existence of historic evidence.

For example, I would suggest that there is more evidence for the existence of adolph Hitler than there is for Julius Caesar. This is because we have films and photos oh him and people living today remember him.

In the case of Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ, we have no film, no memories and only ancient documents which might always be open to doubt.

However, while the historians whom I know and with whom I have discussed this matter, have said that the evidence for Jesus Christ is not strong but that the evidence for Julius Caesar is strong, the 'experts', it seems, disagree with this.

Even Bart Ehrman, whom I consider very knowledgeable, said that there was more evidence for Jesus than for Caesar. That shocked me. But I find that this is the consensus amongst the historians who study theology. And that baffles me.

I don't see this historical evidence.

And people's feelings, beliefs and transformations are not relevant to historical study, I'm afraid.


Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 18 months ago from San Diego California

A very intriguing expose. First of all, faith is not science, and my admittedly superstitious desire to cling to a supernatural entity does not require historical verification. All the same, I find it difficult to believe, although not impossible to believe, that a person who never existed could have inspired such a massive movement, the adherents of which were willing to endure persecution and sometimes death. Then again, I was just listening to a report on the "Luddites" who appeared on the threshold of the industrial revolution, who apparently eagerly followed the commands of a man name Lud who directed them to smash factory machinery, even though this Lud never actually existed. But the Luddites died off, whereas Christianity endured. To me the argument is not really important, it's kind of in the vein of "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" Brilliantly researched, constructed, and written hub.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 18 months ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi and thank you for your kind comments, Mel. :)

Yes, there are a few inter-related issues here:

Did Jesus exist?

What evidence is there for the existence of Jesus?

Is there more and / or better evidence for the existence of Jesus compared to that for any other figure from the past - eg. Julius Caesar?

I am interested in all of these points but, here, I have tried to stick only to comparing the amounts and reliability of available historical evidence for Jesus Christ and Julius Caesar.

I think that I have probably addressed certain points concerning the existence of Jesus elsewhere.

For me, it is all about history and its effects. I'm afraid that I lost my faith quite some time ago. So the evidence for Jesus, or the lack thereof, is very important, especially when considering the influence of the Christian religion in our world. :)

Personally I have no idea whether or not Jesus existed. In spite of what the experts claim I see no proof for his existence.

However, I think that it is likely that he did. As you say, his story is still believed and followed, but I think that history has shown that crowds can be inspired to follow any belief.

What I find more compelling is that his story fits with what was going on politically in the region at the time. (One expert said this but I cannot remember who it was.)

On the other hand, Robin Hood's story fits with his time and place, too, and experts argue over the truth of his existence, as well. Indeed, I feel that these two heroes of the underdog are similar in some ways.

But that's another argument for another hub :)


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 18 months ago from Orlando Florida

I just did a hub saying Jesus did not exist. I should have read your hub first. (I never read other hubs before doing my own on the same topic.) Good work. You covered all the bases. Great scholarship.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 18 months ago from The English Midlands Author

Thanks Catherine!

I'll have a read of your hub next :)


jBM 17 months ago


jBM 17 months ago

I added a link to this hub here: Research Articles, Evidence and Videos that Prove a Historical jesus, NEVER Existed http://tmblr.co/ZkpfQtmSTwHN


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 17 months ago from The English Midlands Author

Thanks. Interesting, JBM. I'll take a better look at that when I have a little more time. I hope that people will enjoy reading my thoughts on the matter. :)


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 17 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Trish

Firstof all thank you for putting the link up to this hub. There's probably more here than I can deal with in one read so I'll almost certainly be back a few times.

One thing I did pick up on is Caesar's account of the gallic wars, for centuries we thought caesar was telling the truth for the reason the war happened but more recently we've discovered through archaeology that he wasn't telling the whole truth, this kind of shades what he really tells us about the whole story. I realize many would say the same about the gospels but archaeology has supported whatvthe gospels have told us about the life and times of Jesus.

If the gospel fragments and documents were all found in one location at the same time then you would be right in saying they can't all be treated as seperate pieces of evidence but the fact is they were found at different times in different places so diverse that each fragment tells a different history! What they tell us is of people who lived at different times in different places, often in times when people didn't move more than ten miles from their homes in their whole lives yet their books and beliefs were similar. In that way many of them can be said to be seperate pieces of evidence.

Great hub though

Lawrence


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 17 months ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Lawrence :)

The past is gone and cannot be revisited so, with both History and Archaeology, there can only be interpretation of evidence and the result is, I suppose, always a best guess.

We do have to be wary of anything by or about Julius Caesar for a number of reasons. However, based on what we have, I would be extremely surprised to discover that he had never existed.

This is not the case with Jesus. We have nothing dating from his time. We have absolutely no proof of his existence. Even the best evidence for his existence is dubious.

Indeed, the best evidence for him is that his story fits well with his supposed time and place. It is not surprising, therefore, that archaeology supports much of 'what the gospels have told us about the ... times of Jesus'. But about his life? Not really. Or only in very general terms.

But the same could be said of Robin Hood and he is usually considered to be a mythological character. It would not surprise me at all to discover that Robin Hood and Jesus Christ were real. But we have no proof for either of them.

Different copies of the same writing cannot be taken as separate pieces of evidence. If they are the same, then they are the same; one piece of evidence.

According to the NT Paul and other missionaries did a lot of travelling, so you really cannot say that people did not venture more than ten miles from home in their lives, especially when those doing this travelling were the very people who were spreading this gospel.

Thanks for reading and contributing. :)


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 17 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Trish

Sorry about the first comment, still got my learner licence with this phone :)

If we take your logic to its conclusion then we have to treat all historical documents the same way. That means we would end up with only one or two accounts of most of ancient history, and those written sometimes hundreds of years after the event!

We would only have two records of Julius Caesar from all sources but four for Jesus from the gospels, three of which are eyewitness accounts from those who were there and one based on eyewitness testimony who wasn't but sought to record what the eyewitnesses had told him (he says upto five hundred people in one of letters he wrote for Paul) so you still have significantly more evidence for Jesus than Julius unless you go to their tombs where you can find Julius' remains but Jesus' tomb is empty!

Lawrence


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 17 months ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi :)

Sorry, Lawrence, but we have no eye-witness accounts of Jesus; nothing contemporary at all.

Before I wrote this hub, I contacted a British expert on the Roman era so that I could be completely confident of my thoughts on the subject. This man did not know that I would be using his generously-given advice in an Internet debate, so it would be unfair to name him but, suffice to say, he is a well-respected historian in the UK - and probably beyond.

He confirmed the evidence for Julius Caesar ...

Very well-known coinage issues during his own lifetime.

His personal account of the Gallic War.

Part of his account of the Civil War

The immediate tradition of Caesar in inscriptions and coins of Augustus.

(Archaeology fits with Caesar's claims regarding military campaigns in Gaul.)

...

And evidence for Jesus Christ?

Quote: "Christ is not attested in his own lifetime by any independent extant source ...".

Lawrence, proof just does not exist. We can draw conclusions based on what we have, and which may, indeed, have earlier origins. We can puzzle things out and piece them together, and maybe find some truth in the Jesus story, but the four gospels are not four separate sources and the currently-available evidence is not contemporaneous with Jesus.

I love reading books which tease out clues which may indicate something of the truth of a real man Jesus and I do think that, maybe, some of the story is true. But we simply don't have early records concerning Jesus.

Certainly some of the stories that we have could have been identical to earlier lost versions. But we just don't know; not for certain.

The earliest known 'evidence' for the existence of Jesus appears to be the letters of Paul, but I am not sure how reliable they are. For one thing, Paul never even met Jesus except in a vision and, for another, he refers to the bread and wine of 'The Last Supper' in an almost cannibalistic manner that would have been anathema to a Jew like Jesus:

'The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.' (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 17 months ago from The English Midlands Author

This is a good read, which supplements my hub:

http://www.drabruzzi.com/ZINDLER-JESUS.PDF


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 17 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Trish

I think we'll have to agree to disagree on how to treat the gospels.

By the way the "Last supper" quote you mention the keyword is "REMEMBRANCE" . The 'cannibalistic' charge is the same as the Romans used to say about Christian practices in the first and second centuries.

I'll also have a look at the link you sent

Lawrence


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 17 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Trish

We'll have to agree to disagreeon how to treat the gospel accounts as I maintain they are from men who were contemporary with Jesus and as such should be counted as reliable witnesses.

We see the same events through different lenses but if you reject the testimony of the eyewitness accounts then you need to this for all historical figures.

That means we would have no records of the likes of Archimedes, Socrates, Virgil, Homer and many more. Even Julius you would only be left with a few coins (that could be forged as we would have no way of knowing) and a few inscriptions.

I don't think we should do this but we do need to be consistent!

As I said we have to agree to disagree on it.

Lawrence


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 17 months ago from The English Midlands Author

Regarding reference to the 'Last Supper' in Paul's writings, I sought out two translations which claim to be literal:

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 Disciples’ Literal New Testament (DLNT):

I received from the Lord what I also handed-over to you — that the Lord Jesus, in the night on which He was being handed-over, took bread and having given-thanks He broke it and said “This is My body, the one being given for you. Be doing this for My remembrance”. Similarly also the cup after dining, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Be doing this, as-often-as you drink it, for My remembrance”. For as-often-as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you are proclaiming the death of the Lord, until which time He comes.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 Young's Literal Translation (YLT):

I received from the Lord that which also I did deliver to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was delivered up, took bread, and having given thanks, he brake, and said, `Take ye, eat ye, this is my body, that for you is being broken; this do ye -- to the remembrance of me.'

25 In like manner also the cup after the supping, saying, `This cup is the new covenant in my blood; this do ye, as often as ye may drink it -- to the remembrance of me;' for as often as ye may eat this bread, and this cup may drink, the death of the Lord ye do shew forth -- till he may come;

Now, for one thing, Paul says that he received this information from the Lord - presumably Jesus. Yet he also claims never to have met Jesus, so this must have been in his own mind and may not refer to anything that ever really happened.

He claims, though, that Jesus, on breaking bread, said: "“This is My body or even "Take ye, eat ye, this is my body."

Which translation is true, I don't know, but both indicate that when bread was to be eaten it should be considered, at least symbolically, to be the body of Jesus Christ - similarly with wine and his blood.

So, remembrance or not, the bread and wine were perceived as body and blood, which would have been unacceptable to a devout Jew such as Jesus.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 17 months ago from The English Midlands Author

As for agreeing to disagree on the gospels, I don't think that it is this simple, because, even if the stories contained therein do go back to eye-witnesses - which they may - they are still not contemporary documents and are still uncorroborated except by other gospels which appear to be based on the same texts.

I think we may be arguing different things here. I do not think that Jesus, even if real, was divine, but that is not the point of this hub or this discussion. What I am saying is that we do not have any proof that he was real. He may well have been; I think that he could have been, but we do not have enough good evidence to prove it.

We can agree to disagree on his divinity or even his existence, but there cannot really be disagreement on existing contemporary evidence. There is none.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 17 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Trish

I accept your point that the gospel accounts themselves are not contemporary. I still maintain they are reliable but proving it is another story (and maybe future hubs)

Thank you for taking the time for this debate

Lawrence


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 17 months ago from The English Midlands Author

Thank you, too, Lawrence :)


jBM 17 months ago

Lawrence, it is astonishing that you still maintain that religious scriptures are history books. Are all the hundreds of scriptures of all World religions, history books, or just the NT? You are constantly trying to blur history and theology, historians and bible "scholars" and theologians.

It is about time you admitted that none of the NT books are "eyewitness accounts." You have been making that claim for weeks. The gospels are 3rd person.

I am still amazed that you ignored most of challenges toward your claims. Every time you are refuted, you just ignore, subject change and write some uncontributing nothingness.


jBM 17 months ago

Lawrence, it is not history.

Proving that the bible is in fact a historical fiction - Mythological and bizarre bible creatures with the most crazy, demented, preposterous, psychotic, and certifiably insane fairy-tales, ever invented by man.

Nobody can read this article and still honestly claim or objectively maintain that the Bible is complete historical nonfiction. The Bible has very little historical value or facts.

http://tmblr.co/ZTwOHxpMgxHB


jBM 17 months ago

Lawrence, what do you base the reliability on? You have anonymous works on anonymous dates. It is like finding a napkin in the street that has god claims on it. You do not know who wrote the stuff and if they were reliable. You do not even know if it was intended to be real or fiction. Maybe they are famous ancient comic books.

Obviously most of the christian writing was considered fiction, since a hundred + gospels were tossed out when the politicians and clergy held their meetings and cast their votes on the content of the new religion they were inventing and getting ready to mandate through legislation. How could the council decide what anonymous dateless writing was legitimate, 300 years after the fact? They chose what fitted their agenda and through many rewrites, edits, and additions, put out the fraud that you swear to.


jBM 17 months ago

I cannot wait to see how you try to prove how a totally anonymous 1700 year old napkin with Greek writing, found in a cave, is the absolute truth of mankind.


jBM 17 months ago

This is the equivalence of the bible: http://www.memes.com/img/242779


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 14 months ago from Orlando Florida

A very excellent a thorough critique of the subject. The more I study this, the more convinced I am that there never was this man called Jesus upon whom Christianity is based. I read Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" and he himself says the Bible is riddled with copying errors, deliberate additions and deletions, and outright forgeries. And then he writes another book and says we should consider the Bible to be evidence. Most of what is cited as evidence for Jesus (from outside the Bible) are forgeries. Other non-Church references are a stretch. They were not referring to the Jesus of the Bible. I have written several hubs on this and I see that as of now, there are two of them in the "Related on Hub Pages" section to the right of this hub.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 14 months ago from The English Midlands Author

Thanks Catherine.

It is a fascinating subject and I am in two minds about it - well, two at the very least :)

I read somewhere - and, unfortunately, I forget where - that possibly the best evidence for the existence of Jesus is that his story fits with the politics of that time and place. And I think that this is true. But then, the same could be said of Robin Hood.

There are so many possible scenarios.

Although as a historian I like verified 'facts', the important thing is that, whether or not the details of the story are true, they do reflect a truth of the holy land of two thousand years ago.

Of course, Jesus's story could quite easily be true, partly true or based on truth, without his having been divine / God incarnate / Son of God. That, I think, is the most important aspect of all this.

After all, we do not know whether or not Marco Polo's stories are true, but they are historically useful either way. It would be a whole different kettle of fish if people were claiming that Marco Polo was a god :)

That fact that people consider Jesus to be God has affected humanity for 2000 years - and continues to do so; sometimes for good. Definitely not always.


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 14 months ago from Orlando Florida

I like your response. As a historian, I recommend that you read Richard Carrier, a fellow historian. On his blog, he makes a real good care to the historicity of Caesar and the a-historicity of Jesus. http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/7862


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 14 months ago from The English Midlands Author

Hi Catherine.

Thank you.

I have had a look at some of Robert Carrier's work. Very interesting.

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