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The Bible is not a Historical Text, it is a Hagiography

Updated on January 27, 2012
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I have to laugh at how many people still refer to the bible as a historically accurate document. It is far from accurate, historically or in any other way. There is a term, however, for ancient texts that, while containing historical information, are more of a mythological story. That term is hagiography. A hagiography is a writing on the subject of holy people. I think even Christians will agree that the purpose of the bible was not to recount historical information but to recount the life of god and his son, Jesus--a very holy person. So, while the bible does contain information that can be historically confirmed, it also contains myths like the one of Noah and the Great Flood, which have not been confirmed, and most likely never will be. At least not how the bible tells it. There may have been a flood, but it was not a world wide disaster like the bible tells it. And Noah is another one of those holy characters that hagiographies serve so well.

So, rather than point out all the myths in the bible that serve to classify it as a hagiography I will list some other popular hagiographies from other cultures, and we'll see how different they are from the bible.

Izanagi and Izanami creating the Japanese archipelago.
Izanagi and Izanami creating the Japanese archipelago. | Source

The Kojiki and the Nihonshoki

Here are two ancient texts--the earliest written documents in Japan. The Kojiki was written around the year 711 CE and is basically a collection of myths on how the Yamato Plain and the Japanese archipelago came into existence. The Nihonshoki was written less than a decade later in 720 CE, and also relates the origin myths of Japan. These myths include the story of Izanagi and Izanami, the divine beings from which the Imperial line has descended from--according to them.

While these texts start with very mythological characters and legends, they go on to recount "history" up until the 33rd emperor of Japan. This mixture of myth and history is very valuable to historians to try to piece together the history of Japan. However, a distinction is made between the parts that are myths, like the story of how Prince Shotoku flew on a winged horse to China to bring Buddhism to Japan, and accurate history. Therefore, these texts, while still invaluable as historical references, are hagiographies, not historically accurate documents. Cross referencing these texts with other reliable sources and artifacts are how historians proceed with caution when researching them.

So, I am confused when the bible's accuracy is questioned and Christians get all up in arms. The bible, just like any other hagiography, has to be scrutinized and cross referenced, too. It is not special just because your beliefs dictate that it must be so, and as historians, it is our moral duty to cross reference it with other historically accurate texts.

The Immortal Kim Jong Il?

Source

Modern Day Hagiography

Kim Jong Il is a perfect modern day example of a hagiography in the making. Just like his father before him, the official biography of Kim states that he was born on a mythical mountain under a double rainbow and that his birth was foretold. There are claims of his immortal exploits and his divine right to rule. According to this, Kim is just shy of a god. These are obvious fabrications, but along with these, there are some, and I reiterate some, historically accurate dates and such. Does this make it a historically valid document? Well, yes, but it does not make it historically accurate. There is a huge different. I imagine it will be very hard to cross reference his mythical birth with anything that actually happened here on earth, so, sorry Kim, your biography does not serve as history. At least not for historical purposes.

This is no different than the fabrications in the bible of virgin births and arcs carrying two of every animal. While there may have been a town called Bethlehem, there is not any record of a birth in a manger. None. In fact, theologists can't even agree on a year for his birth. That's because no records exist for it outside of the bible, and the bible, as I have already established, is highly unreliable as a source for historical accuracy. All historical records indicate that no one by the name of Jesus of Nazareth ever existed. There is not even one record outside of the unreliable bible that can be cross referenced to confirm his birth because he is glaringly absent from history. Sorry, Christians.

Source

Sima Qian, a True Historian

To contrast the hagiography I will give an example of a truly accurate ancient historical text. Sima Qian, also known as the "Grand Historian," lived in the second century B.C. He was the father of historiography in China and his life's work culminated in the history of China starting from the Yellow Emperor, some two thousand years before him, to the Emperor Wu of Han. When historians want to research ancient Chinese history they reach for the annals, chronicles, and treatises written by Sima Qian because of their accuracy. A true historian in his time, Sima Qian didn't just write about high ranking people, he also wrote about the lower classes. He started writing Shiji in 109 B.C. and it remains as a veritable record of Chinese history.

Conclusion

The only conclusion an honest person can come to is that, if the bible is less than reliable as a source for history, how much of it can we really trust? How much of it can be trusted if there is not even one confirmation on so many things it claims? If you were reading an important document, let's say the deed to your house, and there was some mistake in it, you would want that mistake fixed immediately, wouldn't you? Why? Because you know that with as little as one mistake, your document loses credibility and it will be harder to correct if time is allowed to pass by. It might even hurt you in the long run when you want to sell your house. So, why, Christians, do you turn off all reason and logic when it comes to the bible? Don't you owe it to yourselves to be forthcoming? A historically accurate document it is not, and believing that is is simply because doing so confirms your beliefs is not only dishonest, it is utterly stupid.

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    • profile image

      Marnie 19 months ago

      http://www.truthbeknown.com/pliny.htm

      Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius:

      No Proof of Jesus

      by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S

      Excerpted from:

      Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled

      suns of god cover image

      Like those of the Jewish writer Josephus, the works of the ancient historians Pliny, Suetonius and Tacitus do not provide proof that Jesus Christ ever existed as a "historical" character.

      Pliny the Younger, Roman Official and Historian (62-113 CE)

      In addition to the palpably bogus passage in the Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus called the "Testimonium Flavianum" is another of the pitiful "references" dutifully trotted out by apologists to prove the existence of Jesus Christ: To wit, a short passage in the works of the Roman historian Pliny the Younger. While proconsul of Bithynia, a province in the northwest of Asia Minor, Pliny purportedly wrote a letter in 110 CE to the Emperor Trajan requesting his assistance in determining the proper punishment for "Christiani" who were causing trouble and would not renounce "Christo" as their god or bow down to the image of the Emperor. These recalcitrant Christiani, according to the Pliny letter, met "together before daylight" and sang "hymns with responses to Christ as a god," binding themselves "by a solemn institution, not to any wrong act." Regarding this letter, Rev. Robert Taylor remarks:

      If this letter be genuine, these nocturnal meetings were what no prudent government could allow; they fully justify the charges of Caecilius in Minutius Felix, of Celsus in Origen, and of Lucian, that the primitive Christians were a skulking, light-shunning, secret, mystical, freemasonry sort of confederation, against the general welfare and peace of society.

      Serapis the ChrestosTaylor also comments that, at the time this letter was purportedly written, "Christians" were considered to be followers of the Greco-Egyptian god Serapis and that "the name of Christ [was] common to the whole rabblement of gods, kings, and priests." Writing around 134 CE, Hadrian purportedly stated:

      "The worshippers of Serapis are Christians, and those are devoted to the God Serapis, who call themselves the bishops of Christ. There is no ruler of a Jewish synagogue, no Samaritan, no Presbyter of the Christians, who is not either an astrologer, a soothsayer, or a minister to obscene pleasures. The very Patriarch himself, should he come into Egypt, would be required by some to worship Serapis, and by others to worship Christ. They have, however, but one God, and it is one and the self-same whom Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike adore, i.e., money."

      It is thus possible that the "Christos" or "Anointed" god Pliny's "Christiani" were following was Serapis himself, the syncretic deity created by the priesthood in the third century BCE. In any case, this god "Christos" was not a man who had been crucified in Judea.

      Moreover, like his earlier incarnation Osiris, Serapis—both popular gods in the Roman Empire—was called not only Christos but also "Chrestos," centuries before the common era. Indeed, Osiris was styled "Chrestos," centuries before his Jewish copycat Jesus was ever conceived....

      In any event, the value of the Pliny letter as "evidence" of Christ's existence is worthless, as it makes no mention of "Jesus of Nazareth," nor does it refer to any event in his purported life. There is not even a clue in it that such a man existed. As Taylor remarks, "We have the name of Christ, and nothing else but the name, where the name of Apollo or Bacchus would have filled up the sense quite as well." Taylor then casts doubt on the authenticity of the letter as a whole, recounting the work of German critics, who "have maintained that this celebrated letter is another instance to be added to the long list of Christian forgeries..." One of these German luminaries, Dr. Semler of Leipsic provided "nine arguments against its authenticity..." He also notes that the Pliny epistle is quite similar to that allegedly written by "Tiberianus, Governor of Syria" to Trajan, which has been universally denounced as a forgery.

      Also, like the Testimonium Flavianum, Pliny's letter is not quoted by any early Church father, including Justin Martyr. Tertullian briefly mentions its existence, noting that it refers to terrible persecutions of Christians. However, the actual text used today comes from a version by a Christian monk in the 15th century, Iucundus of Verona, whose composition apparently was based on Tertullian's assertions. Concurring that the Pliny letter is suspicious, Drews terms "doubtful" Tertullian's "supposed reference to it." Drews then names several authorities who likewise doubted its authenticity, "either as a whole or in material points," including Semler, Aub, Havet, Hochart, Bruno Bauer and Edwin Johnson. Citing the work of Hochart specifically, Drews pronounces Pliny's letter "in all probability" a "later Christian forgery." Even if it is genuine, Pliny's letter is useless in determining any "historical" Jesus.

      Tacitus, Roman Politician and Historian, (c. 56-120 CE)

      Publius/Gaius Cornelius TacitusTurning next to another stalwart in the anemic apologist arsenal, Tacitus, sufficient reason is uncovered to doubt this Roman author's value in proving an "historical" Jesus. In his Annals, supposedly written around 107 CE, Tacitus purportedly related that the Emperor Nero (37-68) blamed the burning of Rome during his reign on "those people who were abhorred for their crimes and commonly called Christians." Since the fire evidently broke out in the poor quarter where fanatic, agitating Messianic Jews allegedly jumped for joy, thinking the conflagration represented the eschatological development that would bring about the Messianic reign, it would not be unreasonable for authorities to blame the fire on them. However, it is clear that these Messianic Jews were not (yet) called "Christiani." In support of this contention, Nero's famed minister, Seneca (5?-65), whose writings evidently provided much fuel for the incipient Christian ideology, has not a word about these "most-hated" sectarians.

      ...the Tacitean passage next states that these fire-setting agitators were followers of "Christus" (Christos), who, in the reign of Tiberius, "was put to death as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate." The passage also recounts that the Christians, who constituted a "vast multitude at Rome," were then sought after and executed in ghastly manners, including by crucifixion. However, the date that a "vast multitude" of Christians was discovered and executed would be around 64 CE, and it is evident that there was no "vast multitude" of Christians at Rome by this time, as there were not even a multitude of them in Judea. Oddly, this brief mention of Christians is all there is in the voluminous works of Tacitus regarding this extraordinary movement, which allegedly possessed such power as to be able to burn Rome. Also, the Neronian persecution of Christians is unrecorded by any other historian of the day and supposedly took place at the very time when Paul was purportedly freely preaching at Rome (Acts 28:30-31), facts that cast strong doubt on whether or not it actually happened. Drews concludes that the Neronian persecution is likely "nothing but the product of a Christian's imagination in the fifth century." Eusebius, in discussing this persecution, does not avail himself of the Tacitean passage, which he surely would have done had it existed at the time. Eusebius's discussion is very short, indicating he was lacking source material; the passage in Tacitus would have provided him a very valuable resource.

      Even conservative writers such as James Still have problems with the authenticity of the Tacitus passage: For one, Tacitus was an imperial writer, and no imperial document would ever refer to Jesus as "Christ." Also, Pilate was not a "procurator" but a prefect, which Tacitus would have known. Nevertheless, not willing to throw out the entire passage, some researchers have concluded that Tacitus "was merely repeating a story told to him by contemporary Christians."

      Eusebius of Caesarea, Catholic Church HistorianBased on these and othe

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      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Interesting, informative and fascinating....UP+++ tweeted....

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      Luis 2 years ago

      I do work for a Global salvage orioagzntian in Scientology In South Africa. For the simple reason I went to my church and ask were can I help to make a difference and serve my Father. I was told it's under control. I sunk ed into apathy. How I got to work for Scientology Africa is a long story. But they asked me to help. If I could join your Ministry to reach lost souls and lead them to christ. Would be my greatest honor and my biggest dream. Could you help me making it a reality. Hope to hear from you soon. Have a Godly inspired day. ML. Maurithus

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      Bahare 2 years ago

      Hello Marithus, I appreciate your inqriuy into joining GodRing. Unfortunately the way this ministry and website is designed, it doesn't require a team. It's really just the content I bring from different groups to one place (or create).I strongly welcome you to contact any of our members however. As most of them are full ministries that could use more people. You can find links to their websites under Members on the right column.Alternately, I'd like to encourage you to taking that step yourself. Ministries are created every day to fill the need commissioned by Jesus Christ. It takes one person stepping forward. So if you can't find a ministry to join, take that leap and make one. Also, remember that reaching lost souls does not require a ministry group. There are shelters, homeless, and fatherless everywhere that don't necessarily need a big ministry to help them, but rather just a single helping hand.God Bless you Maurithus, and I hope you find the outlet you need. Never give up, and always remember that in Christ all things are possible.

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      f_hruz 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      The drivel comes from where the drivel is ...

      http://youtu.be/LxKWxExuPew

      Maybe a bit more brain exercise will help?

      http://youtu.be/HVuw1wEuaAQ

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      charlie 4 years ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth. between the oceans

      what in the world is this drivel doing under Chistian heading? It is pure trash.

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      Hidden scriptures of the holy bible 4 years ago

      maaaan did an exceptional job writing this article about apophryca.

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      Carneades-Georgia 5 years ago from Augusta, Georgia

    • Carneades-Georgia profile image

      Carneades-Georgia 5 years ago from Augusta, Georgia

      Emma, @ http://thebuy-bull.posterous.com , I note how that anthology errs, and how Yeshua, as described, was such a scumbag!

      Was his parable where he says bring before me my enemies who won't let me rule over them and slay them meant literraly or as apologists say no, he means in the future state, he'll fry the unbelivers. Apologists have far-fetched excuses for the failings of their master and that anthology!

      I'd note the different excuses for just a few failings so as to show how apologists cannot make sense with their excuses.

      That long-dead cult leader has other twaddle like love me or else, love me more than yourselves or others, I came to bring the sword,not peace, certain cities that didn't pander to him would suffer more than Sodom and Gomorrah and on and on. How that misanthrope revels in Hell! T he idiot didn' t fathom love!

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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Yeah, it is a complete contradiction to what they profess they stand for, you know, love, peace, tolerance. It's proof of how little the use of a brain is required for being a model christian.

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      aslaught 5 years ago from Alabama

      Also, one thing that stuns me! The fact there IS so much blood and gore in the bible, and seemingly sweet, kind, otherwise nonviolent people can be so taken in by what the bible teaches, or sometimes lack of teachings and contradictions. Here in the south, they just LOVE to talk about being, "washed in the blood of the lamb." I'm like, What???? I understand the analogy, and still it's just a bit sickening. Don't you think? This god that they worship has killed more people than any mass murder, including his own son, that he sent here To Be Killed. Come on!!!! couldn't the sins have been taken care of in a less violent way? Truthfully, I think most of these people that are spouting this nonsense, ie, dying on the cross, being washed in blood, etc., etc., aren't even Listening to themselves!!!

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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Thank you so much, aslaught! I try to take what I learn about history and incorporate it someway into my interest in religion, so I am glad to see that you are enjoying the fruits of my labor. Yep, the bible is a myth, most of it. It does contain some useful knowledge, but in all honesty, it's nothing that we couldn't acquire from other historical texts that are much more reliable.

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      aslaught 5 years ago from Alabama

      Once again an interesting, well written hub. I have come to my conclusions about the bible after 60 years of existence on this planet. I've read the bible a few times, and many years ago began to see the discreptancies, lies, deceipt, ignorance, fantasy, etc. etc. It took me several years to let go of the Fear that was instilled in me by years of indoctrination growing up in The Bible Belt. I believe christianity as we know it today was created to control the masses out of fear. That is Just my belief. I am not college educated. I am a high school graduate, but I've been a voracious reader my entire life. I was able, after years and years to see through the b.s. and realize that the bible is just a mythological tale. I am awestruck that in this day and age with the knowledge that we have been able to acquire, that there are so many people still holding on to those ancient beliefs, but oh well, whatever gets you through the night. I am enjoying this author's writings. I have learned a lot from reading these hubs, and cemented even more my beliefs in the total nonexistance of this all seeing, all knowing, god, and all the other myths written in the bible. Honestly, I believe this would be a better world if mankind & womankind, could let go of those myths, that blood bath that is the bible.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Thanks for the comment, hawkdad. Yes, I agree, and anyone can go to college and get a degree. That somehow makes them infallible but simply having a degree does not make you correct in your findings. So, yeah, there are many a theologian who are just plain dishonest.

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      hawkdad73 5 years ago from Riverside, Iowa

      I agree with it being a moral duty to scrutinize such texts as the Bible, or the text of whichever religion you believe in.

      You probably already know about them, but Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman. It is written by a theologian who has made it his life's goal (professionally anyway) to do just what you say is necessary: scrutinize the text of the Bible. According to him, seminary students actually learn about such discrepancies, but they never make it into the sermons (I know I never learned about them in Sunday School)

      Don't Know Much About Mythology by Davis is another must read. I agree that many of the tales fall under the mythology umbrella; this book likens many of the themes in Christian mythology with that of other religions/societies.

      Awesome conclusion, by the way!

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Haha! Well, I'm sure there are a lot of people that could "explain" it, but would it be an accurate historical explanation based on facts and evidence? That is the question. I have heard several versions of the Jesus myth. I have heard of Josephus, too. At some point, though, I have to call bullsh**. As for god being the father, it's funny how both Mathew and Luke give Jesus' genealogy. Why would it be necessary for a demi-god to have a genealogy? Shouldn't one name settle it, god? But, obviously, these two thought it necessary to include conflicting lineages, one much longer than the other by the way. Thanks for the comment, f_hruz!

    • f_hruz profile image

      f_hruz 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, Canada

      Great hub Emma!

      Now be honest, please ... have you not heard that Josephus at one point mentioned to some friends over coffee the death of James, who was the brother of Christ?

      I didn't even know Jesus Christ had a brother called James - any relation to Adam and Eve by any chance ... or is that a different pile of BS?

      Were Jesus and James twin brothers? If Maria Magdalena was their mother and James was older than Jesus, Maria couldn't have been a virgin ... ok, so Jesus father was a Mr. God, right? Was that the same guy as James father, or a different Mr. God ... what was his last name anyway?

      It's too easy to say "... I'm god!" not give a last name or an address, father a few children, create a cult so he can take off and skip paying alimony!

      Let's see if we can get a few historians from the Vatican Academy of Sciences to try and explain all this a bit better ... :)

      Franto in Toronto

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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Well, that's rich, cprice. You disagree that the bible is a hagiography? I rest my case. You have made my point for me. I'll let you get back to your daydreams so I can get back to actual research.

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      cprice75 5 years ago from USA

      I will make a quick exception to my previous claim, and admit to reading your new hub. BTW, I don't claim to be a theologian. I just wanted to point out that the idea that no serious scholars in highly-respected universities believe there was a historical Jesus is totally erroneous, regardless of you wanting to argue contrary. I freely conceded that there is a divergence of opinion as to his significance. Your belittling does not change any of the facts. Again, I apologize for following up your ad hominem with similar sarcasm. My argument was not with your claiming that the Bible was a hagiography (although I personally disagree with your statement--I support your right to say what you want), but rather with the apparent claim that Jesus never existed at all, when few people anywhere argue the fact. I asked for clarification, and you reiterated your statement to that effect.

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      cprice75 5 years ago from USA

      I would argue that all records, first or second-hand are biased. No one writes without a bias. Your initial post and all the replies (mine included) contain a bias. That does not mean that all documents contain no truth. I will freely admit that I took a bit of an apologetic stance in my response. However, I would also argue that a claim Jesus never existed is also an apologetic. The initial post appeared to say that Jesus never existed and that people were stupid for believing that he did (regardless of what exactly was believed), not that little exists regarding the life of Jesus outside the Bible.

      Regarding the Church Fathers, Philip Schaff edited a 10-volume work on the writings of the Ante-Nicene fathers. I just scrolled through the first two volumes online. Each was around 1,000 pages. While there are just probably tens of authors, they wrote on many different topics, some of their "books" that are cited have 50 or more chapters on differing topics. Therefore, thousands may be a slight exaggeration, but there is a very sizable amount of information on what Christians believed well before Constantine. At Nicaea, the bishops voted with little dissension to condemn Arianism. These were guys who would have been severely persecuted as Diocletian attempted to stamp out Christianity just a few years previously (as late as 311), so it's not terribly likely that they would've changed their tune merely because Constantine wanted them to. This brings the idea that Constantine created official church doctrine as popularized into serious doubt.

      Here's a link to some info by scholars from Yale, Harvard, Columbia, UT Austin, etc., that talk about the historical Jesus. There are widely divergent arguments as to who he was and what he taught, but there is little, if any, doubt that Jesus lived and taught in the first century. Some of the scholars, with degrees from Ivy League Schools in classics, history, archaeology, and religion tend to much more credence to the NT documents (gospels and Pauline epistles) than you are willing to concede, although they admit that the waters are murky. Some argue similarly to you, but they don't deny Jesus lived and had some measure of importance. Some got grants from the Guggenheim and/or the NEH. Some of them remain Christians and have positions at highly-respected schools. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/reli...

      I would finally argue that there is a bit of difference between Christians in the first or second century and the Japanese who believed myths of which you speak. The Japanese ruling class was attempting to legitimate its power from above, i.e., the right to rule over competing claimants to power. The Mandate of Heaven residing on the Son of Heaven in the Chinese tradition is apparently similar, although I will confess that Asian history is not exactly my forte. Early Christians had little social standing, so they had no major incentive to solidify their claim to their peasant standing. If anything, it would've been more beneficial from their standing with Jews and Romans if they had retained their previous affiliation.

      I really should get back to my "studies" which are not related to first-century Palestine, or even the classical era, for that matter. I apologize for raising questions about erroneous generalizations and dragging you into a fruitless discussion. Don't construe a lack of a response as my giving up. I've conceded that there is debate on the topic.

      BTW, Winston, thanks for avoiding ad hominem and straw men. I will concede your point that there is debate over who wrote the gospels, as they are anonymous, although John claims to have been an eyewitness explicitly, in spite of its being dated in the 90s. Regarding Constantine, see above for my argument.

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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Well what do ya know, cprice. You have inspired my latest hub. Oh, do read it. https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Theol...

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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Wow! Thousands? Really? I hardly think so. One could say there are THOUSANDS of writings from medieval Japan pointing to the existence of Izanagi and Izanami, in fact, there are. That hardly counts as evidence. It turns out that I am the one that is surprised that you are actually a history student. For one, you apparently can't differentiate from factual historical documents and a hagiography. Secondly, as far as primary sources go, there are MUCH better sources for a historian to rely on than the bible for that time period. And no, most scholars don't agree on the existence of Jesus. That should kind of be a red flag. There isn't any proof of a crucifixion, either. Historical figures "talking and writing" about an event that, much like a rumor, could have taken a life of its own, is hardly proof. Let's look at the census, shall we. Oh, what's that? There is no Jesus of Nazareth in the census like the bible claims. Hmm...strike one. You know, Prince Shotoku's existence is questioned and he was a Prince! But there is a lack of evidence in the way of factual history other than what exists in the Kojiki and the Nihonshoki, so scholars proceed with caution when dealing with him. Why is this such a hard thing for you to grasp, o'history student? So now you are going to argue that a resurrection actually took place? I have to question your education, now. Really? Well, perhaps I should be looking for the remains of Prince Shotoku's winged horse. I think I've heard enough from you. Obviously, you are in a whole other league, sad to say. That isn't a compliment, by the way. I'll let you get back to your "studies" and please, let me continue with my work, which is of more pressing importance than trying to keep a myth alive. Good luck with your "studies".

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      AKA Winston 5 years ago

      cprice75,

      I won't quote you directly but I will say that with this last post you crossed the line into apologetics by claiming that biased second-hand accounts are good historical records. On top of that, your information is not completely accuarate. The stories of the apostles' deaths(other than two) come from church legend and are not supported by other references - but you claim it as a certainty. Likewise, the NT was not a completed document in the first century - the book of John alone has been dated to 95-105 C.E. Until Constantine, there was no orthodox Christian belief - there were many groups who claimed to be followers, and they produced varying books with varying legend.

      I don't mind the contrary argument, but it should be consistent with actual facts.

    • cprice75 profile image

      cprice75 5 years ago from USA

      :) LOL...struck a nerve apparently. There is honestly not anything you could say about my beliefs that will hurt my feelings. I actually have a thick skin. The only thing that I attacked was the appearance that you denied that anybody named Jesus lived in the first century. I promise to play nice, but at least consider the following. It's not an attack, but rather an attempt at reasonable argument:

      There are literally thousands of writings from the church fathers, some of them from the late first century, that point to Jesus and quote the Bible. That is way more in the way of documentary attestation than any other ancient book. These first-century church fathers also point to some of the New Testament, which would mean that these works were in existence by the end of the first century. To my knowledge there is no one claiming evidence of Jesus anywhere before this time (1st century), although I may be mistaken.

      Most scholars agree that someone named Jesus lived in the early first century. Several people died for claiming they saw Jesus alive after he was reportedly crucified. This is something way close to the actual event that was supposed to have happened. It is not the same as a myth from several hundred or a thousand years previous to the alleged event. There were also apparently several Jewish insurrectionists who claimed to be the Messiah around that time. Josephus mentions at least a couple. They all left the scene or were executed, but none had followers that claimed to have seen them come back, and said followers pretty much dispersed after the fact. In other words, there was no cult of Theudas.

      Why would these people who lived in the time that Jesus reportedly did die say that he resurrected under threat of death, if, in fact, they did not believe (which I understand there can be a difference between belief and fact) that he did. They claimed to have seen him alive after his death--even in groups. A group hallucination of the exact same thing is not terribly likely. This is not conclusive proof, but it is quite interesting, to say the least. If we can look at the gospels as primary sources, as you've admitted that we can, at least to know the beliefs of people, there are at least four fairly lengthy written accounts of the resurrection from the first century--two of which are reported to be from eyewitnesses and two of which were written by people who claimed to have known eyewitnesses. Do they appear to agree at first glance? Not necessarily, but the main fact of the account is obvious--that Jesus resurrected--and people were willing to die shortly after the fact, before a myth would be likely to take hold. Also, it's important to realize that there was no canon in the first century, so these accounts arose at least somewhat independently (although I will concede that there is conjecture on the documentary hypothesis' "Q" that could have been a source for the synoptics).

      Just because we've never experienced something first-hand does not mean that it absolutely cannot happen. Sometimes people have deadly diseases like cancer cured inexplicably and without medicine. It's rare, but it can happen. Just because there is no logical and/or totally natural explanation for an event does not mean something did not happen. Are there some metaphors in the Bible? I would agree that there are at times. However, it does not appear that the life or the resurrection of Jesus is supposed to be one of them, since it is repeated over and over again. I think the apostles and church fathers are pretty good primary sources that point to the historicity of Jesus from the century most people believe he impacted. Were they biased? Of course. But a biased source does not necessarily make an untruthful source. For example, someone warning of the Holocaust (there were rumors during WWII that were ignored because of false anti-German propaganda from WWI) would have the bias of wanting the tragedy stopped. They would not be telling a lie, but rather the truth, because of their bias.

      You can feel free, as I'm sure you likely will, to disagree with me. Just wanted to show that some there are reasons that people believe what the gospels say about Jesus.

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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Are you dense?? Of course the bible can be a primary source, so is the Kojiki and the Nihonshoki. What are you not getting? They are primary sources because they contain information from a certain time period of the people and culture. That does not make everything in it historically factual. The fact that they contain things in it that aren't historically factual mean that they have to be carefully examined and cross referenced. Obviously, there is no evidence for the existence of sibling gods named Izanagi and Izanami, so we put that part of the Kojiki and Nihonshoki with the myths. Similarly with the bible, we do the same for the things that cannot be confirmed, i.e. jesus of nazareth and anything else, which is quite a lot, that cannot be confirmed. And you do need to grow up. I will repeat that. Grow up. I have written a factual article and all you can do is attack me for it. Get over it. People like you are the reason I write articles like this. There is obviously a lot of ignorance that needs to be eradicated.

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      cprice75 5 years ago from USA

      There is a huge difference between Bentley and Zeigler, who are both historians with tenured positions at a fairly large public university and Bill O'Reilly, who is considered a historian by basically no one. That's a straw man if ever there was a straw man.

      If Traditions and Encounters is hardly college material, why would so many colleges and universities assign it as a text/reference? One of the syllabi that I looked up even used the Gospel of Matthew as a primary source. While the professor probably doesn't hold it as totally infallible, they obviously hold it as more important than you do. Man, these professors must not be as smart as you. That's all I can figure. I already know that I'm stupid thanks to your informing me of the fact, but now, I've found that hundreds of college professors are just as dumb as me for using such an inferior textbook.

      By the way, did I say that I was angry over your condescending tone? Nope. I actually find it quite humorous and have written just about every letter in this thread with a grin on my face. Thanks :) I would point out, however, that calling people stupid and telling people to grow up really doesn't lend any credence to your argument with other readers.

      I'm impressed that you're in college and truly wish you the best. By the way, in my history department, while there are atheists or agnostics, they don't disrespect me for my belief. I don't disrespect them for their lack of belief. We discuss things in a rational and respectful manner. I know of at least five Christians in my department who are working on a doctorate. It's not at Billy Joe Bob's School of Mountain Ministry or some other such wonderful scholarly institution. It's actually publicly funded and regionally accredited. I must say that I'm surprised that these guys got in because of their utter stupidity.

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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Cprice, history must include traditions, because that is part of history, but that doesn't mean that the traditions are in any way based on fact. As a historian I have the privilege of studying many different cultures throughout history. That doesn't mean the interpretation of a populations beliefs are factual. As for the book you suggested, it's hardly college material. It's more of a survey as you say and "unique" as their very own site states. Anyone can write a history book, why, even ole Bill o'Reilly wrote one on Abe Lincoln. Didn't go over too well with real historians, but he wrote it none the less. But as I already stated before, one cannot study history without studying the beliefs and practices of the people that make up history. I took three semesters of Japanese history and I learned about their origin stories and beliefs and practices. I learned how 1500 years of royal lineage was mandated by divine authority. Does that mean all of that is true? What that means, sir, is that those are the beliefs they held that allowed them to be true for THEM. See the difference? There is absolutely NO evidence supporting the claim that the emperor has descended from Amaterasu or Izanagi and Izanami so pretending that there is, just to satisfy someone's sensitive beliefs, is absolutely asinine. As for my condescending tone...grow up. There is zero evidence for Jesus. Deal with it. Historical figures holding him in high regard is hardly evidence. I am disturbed that adults have to resort to such chicanery simply because of their fear of death. I just want to yell sometimes GROW UP! Deal in reality and stop clinging to nonsense.

    • cprice75 profile image

      cprice75 5 years ago from USA

      You are welcome, Artin. I was willing to let it go after asking if there was an actual person known as Jesus, as the whole Jesus myth idea is not exactly the consensus scholarly opinion. I was merely explaining that the general scholarly consensus is that Jesus did exist. Who he was is a matter of debate, which I will concede in spite of my own beliefs. I can respect people who disagree with me respectfully.

      Winston, by the way, I feel your comments were respectful even though I don't agree with your view.

      Calling people stupid and then giving me a lecture on supposed second grade textbooks as if I were in second grade, however, I found quite condescending. That's when I felt like responding in so much depth.

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      Artin2010 5 years ago from Northwestern Florida, Gulfcoast

      Thank you for backing me up cprice, I was floored when I stumbled onto this hub and I commended the author for expression of thoughts. I am a believer by faith and I know in my heart that I am not wrong in accepting that the King James Bible IS partly history and has been dissected quite a bit, but still it remains one of the most distributed holy works in circulation I believe.

      Still I am thankful for emmaspeaks views as they stir thought about history and beliefs. Blessings to all, Art

    • cprice75 profile image

      cprice75 5 years ago from USA

      So, would you count the account of the Venerable Bede on the early inhabitants of England as non-historical? He is considered the best source we have, but he's biased and Christian. There isn't much to corroborate quite a bit of what he said, so do we dismiss him out of hand? There are tons of writings by church fathers before Nicaea that say the same things that the creed says. Therefore, Constantine did not "make the official proclamation of the faith." Justin Martyr (early-mid second century), Tertullian (late second century), and others clarify that they held the NT in high regard well before Nicaea. Eusebius clarifies this in his Ecclesiastical History.

      I clearly asked if you denied the existence of Jesus, intending it in a very general way and without including my personal view. You indicated that you held Jesus in the same category of purple dragons, so I tried to set the record straight that there is quite a bit of scholarly consensus that he, in fact, did exist. I also conceded that there is diversity of opinion over his importance. I do not have a problem with people disagreeing with me.

      That being said, however, I must confess that your condescension amuses me, ma'am. You consider those who believe in the Jesus the Bible describes as stupid (your own words). I know many college professors at non-religious schools who hold this belief. I also know many non-religious professors at non-religious schools who would not hold such a condescending tone to people of faith. They tend to raise the same questions, but generally tend to respect people who disagree with them.

      If you had used your skills as a future historian, you would have been able to look up Traditions and Encounters and found that it is not a second grade textbook, but rather a fairly standard world history textbook for college surveys. Jerry Bentley is considered one of the more significant historians in the field of inter-cultural interaction (i.e. mercantile and missionary--Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist--activity). He and Zeigler are on faculty as historians at the U of Hawaii.

      Textbooks often include primary sources as references, but are based upon the current historiographical consensus (giving ample room for certain debates in which there is no consensus)of the best scholars in a given field because they are general works, and no one historian can be an expert in everything. Also, textbooks are generally sent out for peer review, which means readers with expertise in the specific field would most likely catch things that are in serious error or that are way in left field when it comes to the historiographical understanding of a given topic. Bentley/Zeigler makes no claims as to the authenticity of the claims, they just tell what the claims were and who made them. They do include a section of the New Testament as a primary source, however.

      Those two paragraphs on the Spanish Conquest are appropriate for a survey book, but again, this would be based upon the general historiographical understanding, which is based upon primary sources, like las Casas and those who were with Cortes or Pizzaro. :)

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Yes, when I say that there is no historical evidence for Jesus, I mean simply that there is nothing solid to go on other than the mess in the bible, and even among the authors in the bible there is conflict. Emperor Constantine in the Council of Nicea, in order to remedy this problem, decided to make a lot of the mess from the bible into official proclamations of faith. In other words, from this point on, this is what we believe, and this was some 300 years after the fact. So, no, there is no reliable source. Of course there are historians that can claim this or that in a history book. How many people will question a history book? I will. I want to see primary sources and if there are none, I then question the validity of the entire history book. It is no surprise that up until the latter half of the previous century, factual history was trumped by belief. Darwin couldn't be right because the there is the creation story in the bible, so that part was just skipped over. And what kind of history book are we talking about? A grade school history book? I'm in college, sir, and as a future historian I can see a huge difference in the kind of academia in a grade school or high school history book and a work fit for a scholar. In a high school history book, the Spanish Conquest can be summed up in two paragraphs, but as a student of Latin American history, I can attest to the fact that scholarly work requires several primary sources and a good scholar will cite his sources. I agree with AKA. Most likely there was a rabbi named Jesus that did this that or the other, but was he THE Jesus of Nazareth? Hardly. And certainly no son of any god.

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      AKA Winston 5 years ago

      cprice75,

      Most scholars accept Jesus was based on a real person, but after that it is very muddy indeed. Those same scholars are in agreement that the best guess is there was a Jewish rabbi who became entangled with the Romans and was put to death for treason.

      However, as the author correctly points out, there is no historical evidence outside the scriptures that supports the story. The non-scripture references are either too vague, known forgeries, or descriptions of followers. No one doubts there were real live followers - which is inductive evidence that there was a real person.

      As for Paul, he only claimed that a voice from heaven spoke to him and the voice said he was Jesus. To those familiar with mental illnesses, this is no different than Son of Sam claiming the neighbor's dog ordered him to go out and kill.

      There is not a single scrap of first-hand evidence from anyone who knew, saw, talked to, witnessed, or was in any fashion close to Jesus. Jesus left no writings. There are no coins, bridges, or towns named after him.

      Yes, there probably was at least one Jesus (a common name for Jews of the time), but after that the story is murky with no historicity backing it other than second-hand stories from non-eyewitnesses.

    • cprice75 profile image

      cprice75 5 years ago from USA

      That's an interesting viewpoint. Most mainstream scholars agree that Jesus lived in the first century. Jerry Bentley and Herb Zeigler are authors of one of the most popular world history textbooks (Traditions and Encounters)--not exactly written from a Christian perspective--and they appear to have no question about the historicity of Jesus and place him firmly in the first century. They don't make claims as to his being God (other than those claimed by his followers), but they do admit that he was an important teacher and that his followers claimed to have had his presence after his execution. Many scholars argue that certain writings of Tacitus and Seutonius, among others, point to the historicity of Jesus. Pliny the Younger asked Trajan what to do with Christians in the early second century. Josephus at one point mentions the death of James, who was the brother of Christ. I will admit that the other claims allegedly made by Josephus may be later interpolations, but many people think that Josephus writing about James' death is an accurate portrayal of Josephus' understanding and writing.

      Also, Bentley and Zeigler don't question the fact that Paul was an early first-century Christian missionary. Paul claimed to have seen Jesus, as did other of the writers in the NT. Some of the writings of the church fathers date to the first century, and they were associates with some of Christ's followers. It's not terribly uncommon for the exact date of birth for important figures to be unknown. Genghis Khan and Muhammad are a couple of good examples that date even later than the time of Christ. Unless someone was born into a rich or powerful family, it is highly unlikely (the likelihood is slim and none) that their actual birthday is known. I will confess that there is a "Christ myth" theory, but it is not the mainstream view, even among those who are not Christians. It's hard to explain the rise of Christianity without an actual Christ. Few question the actual historical existence of Christ. As a Christian, I will admit that scholars debate his significance, however.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Kurt, thanks for the link and I don't know. I have never researched that, but, given the facility to "interpret" the word of god, I imagine there could be a million.

      cprice, I am only relating the facts, sir. I can't question something that there is no evidence for. There is zero evidence for the existence of purple dragons, outside of of children's story books, of course, so I tend not to waste time "questioning" that.

    • cprice75 profile image

      cprice75 5 years ago from USA

      So, are you questioning the existence of Jesus? It appears that you are by your statement "All historical records indicate that no one by the name of Jesus of Nazareth ever existed. There is not even one record outside of the unreliable bible that can be cross referenced to confirm his birth because he is glaringly absent from history. Sorry, Christians."

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      kurtwtailor 5 years ago

      I found another interesting story at: firstborns.co.cc

      BTW, is it true that the bible has 46 versions? Thanks emma.

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      AKA Winston 5 years ago

      I have an invisible 8-foot tall pink polka-dotted dragon living in my garage, and no one has proven that false, either!

      By the way, his name is Hagi. And he smokes.

    • emmaspeaks profile image
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      emmaspeaks 5 years ago from Kansas City

      Artin, it can be all of that and still be classified as a hagiography. The simple fact that it mixes mythology with history makes it that. Thanks for the comment.

      Smokes, have you lived under a rock all your life, sweetie? A great chunk of it HAS been proven either false or inaccurate, so, try to keep up, okay.

    • Smokes Angel profile image

      Smokes Angel 5 years ago from Broke Alabama

      No one has ever been proved any of it false, sorry.

    • Artin2010 profile image

      Artin2010 5 years ago from Northwestern Florida, Gulfcoast

      The Bible is kind of a biography of the groups of people that lived in a certain period of time in a specific region of the Middle East. It is also a chronological genealogy of the people known as the twelve tribes of Israel and their life events up to the time at which the birth, life and death of a Messiah known as Jesus of Nazareth occurred. The New Testament is mostly a focus on the ministry that the Jewish Messiah started and finished and there is a whole bunch of fact included there. Your views are very interesting and your hub is a very nice work. Thank you for sharing your insight. Peace be with you, as you sojourn this mortal life.