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Did Jesus Really Exist?

Most people just assume that Jesus existed in a form similar to what is described in the Bible. Some believe the literal word of what is there (even though it is contradictory in places) and others believe it minus the miracles and other religious aspects. Not many believe Jesus didn't exist at all. I used to be one who just assumed that Jesus did exist (minus the miracles, of course). However, after looking at the evidence I can now say this is highly doubtful. There is no reputable evidence of the existence of Jesus at all that I can find.

The stories in the Bible can't be taken seriously because they are biased and contradictory. The Bible is a religious text and can be shown to be wrong in numerous places. Clearly, nothing there can be described as objective evidence. I know that many of the places and some of the people described did exist, but the same applies to an historical novel. That proves nothing.

Another problem with the Bible is the contradictions in the different books where events are described differently - they can't all be true. Even if you believe the Bible is a genuine attempt to describe the truth, how can it be accurate? The four books describing Jesus' life were written by people who never met Jesus many years after the alleged events occurred. If Jesus was so great why did no one think to write about him at the time? Also, there are many other potential gospels which could have been chosen, which again are contradictory. The four we have today just happened to match the wishes of the early Catholic church.

There are other possible references to Jesus, but none stand up to any scrutiny. The most famous is probably Josephus. The two references didn't appear in the original version of the historian's work, and is clearly written in a different style from the rest of his material. Its generally accepted these are a forgery by later Christians. No doubt they were so desperate to prove there beliefs they felt the need to invent evidence. So, if anything, Josephus decreases the chance of Jesus being factual. If even this celebrated reference is a Christian lie, how can we take the others seriously?

Another well known reference is by Tacitus. This was never quoted before the fifteenth century, which is very suspicious. The only copy of Tacitus' Annals that existed then was made in the 8th century, and the original was written a century after the supposed events described. Obviously, this is highly debatable evidence at best, and completely irrelevant at worst.

From there on its all down hill. Yes, believe it or not, what I've already described is the best evidence!

Pliny the Younger mentions the new religion of Christianity in 110 AD, but he says nothing about the resurrection. This myth wasn't mentioned by non Christians until many years later. Also, he wasn't born until 20 years after Jesus' alleged death. Why did no one (that's right not one person) write about this remarkable person, Jesus, at the time?

The Babylonian Talmud, written in the 4th and 5th centuries AD, have confused accounts of two men, neither of which could be Jesus. And yes, this was written at least 200 years after the time of Christ. How accurate could it be, even if it did have genuine references to Christ?

Mara Bar-Serapion was a philosopher who wrote some time after 70 AD. His writings are controversial in that they refer to how the Jews executed their King. But wasn't it the Romans? Also, at the time, there were many other people with similar credentials to Jesus, so he could have been referring to anyone. Also, yet again, he wrote many years after the alleged events occurred.

Lucian, mentions Jesus in his second century writing, but his sources were Christian, and clearly biased. Also (I'm sure you're not surprised any more) he wrote many years after the supposed events occurred.

Phlegon of Tralles supposedly refers to an eclipse of the Sun at full Moon (this is impossible) which was supposed to link with darkness at the (alleged) crucifixion of Jesus. But the original work doesn't exist and we are only using secondary references to it. Many historians believe this is not authentic so its very weak evidence, at best.

Thallus is another writer who's works are lost, but are referred to by another writer. It also refers to the supposed darkness mentioned above. But there is major debate of the dating and other details of this work, and it can hardly be used as real evidence.

So you can see that the evidence is very uncertain, at best. If Jesus did half the things ascribed to him, and attracted the attention of crowds as described, there should be much better evidence. I'm not saying its impossible he existed in some form, but if he did, it was very different from the descriptions in the Bible. The best working hypothesis is to presume its all a myth!

Discussion

Comment by Michael Aprile on 2006-07-17 at 14:32:34: I like how you are sensible in how you treat what people submit as worthy of thought and consideration for response. I do the same with my online magazine. I noticed that you have replied there is no evidence (for various beliefs about Jesus' existence and other concepts) outside of the Bible and I find it hard to let that just go by casually. First, I wonder why the "other than in the Bible" comment. It sounds as though you believe the Bible is not true or factual. I have provided a great...

Comment by OJB on 2006-07-17 at 14:32:55: Oh wow, your so-called evidence for the Bible at www.lifeinthebible.com isn't exactly convincing! Do you really think that those quotes which could be interpreted in many different ways really prove anything? I mean, that pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo about stars singing for example. If that's the best you can do, I suggest your evidence is pretty weak! Apart from that, most of the Old Testament stories are based on earlier myths from other belief systems anyway. And I could take the text of ...

Comment by OJB on 2006-07-17 at 14:39:34: You say "the Bible being not only the foundation of all knowledge on every academic subject, but also being the best source for absolute knowledge". I don't think many people would take this seriously. Do you really think the Bible is the foundation for all knowledge on evolution, quantum theory, relativity, for example? I work in a University, and I don't know a single researcher who uses the Bible as the basis of their knowledge on any topic at all - apart from Christian studies, maybe. ...

Comment by Michael Aprile on 2006-07-18 at 03:29:51: Really the best you can do, in response to the evidences offered on my site is say that you find me crazy? Is that the best that your university experience can do for you? Let's get hold of ourselves and get the conversation back to normalcy. I wonder if you would enlighten your blog readers, et al, with some detailed facts and figures. That is, when I read your dissertations, I find only scientist know or many say or I think or that is wrong, but you don't give any hard evidence to back up ...

Comment by OJB on 2006-07-18 at 09:04:19: You keep trying to avoid specific issues and revert back to vaguely defined generalities. Could you please respond to the two issues I have raised here and my "Age of the Universe" web page. My analysis involving the speed of light and age of the Universe is correct. Do you now admit that my conclusion is correct and the Universe cannot be 6000 years old? I stated that I know of no researchers outside of religious studies who use the Bible as the basis of their knowledge. I did a literatu...

Comment by Michael Aprile on 2006-07-18 at 09:10:28: In your dissertation titled Did Jesus Really Exist?, you concluded your opening paragraph with “There is no reputable evidence of the existence of Jesus at all that I can find.” Obviously, either the library at the University where you work is in need of some resources, or you have not looked nearly far enough to come to this hypothesis. Before I could even entertain a comment on this idea, I would have to know how do you find what or who is “reputable” on the subject of whether or not Jesus ...

Comment by Michael Aprile on 2006-07-18 at 09:53:34: You ask me "How do [I] defend [my] statement that the Bible is the basis of all knowledge?", whereas, I created an entire website telling about that, with very few generalities and many facts. You say you read them, but then contended that they were weak arguments and not true, and you could not begin to refute or answer specifically how the information I provided there could be proven wrong. Then, you set upon me with this attitude that I am being general and vague. Does this paint a picture...

Comment by OJB on 2006-07-18 at 10:06:20: When I said there was no evidence that I could find I thought it was fairly clear that I was presenting an opinion. If I had said there was no evidence at all it would have been more absolute. Maybe you can refer me to some credible evidence of the existence of Jesus? By that I mean a record of his existence by anyone who wrote about other figures of the time. And that there should be no sign of later tampering by Christians! The basis of my knowledge is science. Scientific knowledge is ne...

Comment by Michael Aprile on 2006-07-19 at 03:26:18: Thank you, Owen, for making it clear that these points you make are only your opinion. I, for one, will respect that you truly believe they are also true. You asked me for "some credible evidence of the existence of Jesus," and then added the qualifier that it should be "by anyone who wrote about other figures of the time." Elsewhere, in your writings, you have said you do no accept the greatest secular historians, such as Josepheus, Pliny, and Cicero (you might know there are many others a...

Comment by OJB on 2006-07-19 at 08:34:59: So, yet again, you fail to deliver! I asked for credible records of Jesus' life and you only give me the names I have already discredited. Then you launch off on a tangent with prophecies that most people place no credence in whatsoever. I seems to me that your whole belief system is very weak and I'm able to discredit it one step at a time. If you accept that you don't have anything new on the historical Jesus debate (we could say his existence was uncertain, at best) then I can start destroying your prophecies!

Comment by Michael Aprile on 2006-07-19 at 08:45:01: That was a very childish response, Owen. No more than I expected from you, judging from earlier responses.

Comment by OJB on 2006-07-19 at 08:58:43: Well, you think it was childish, but leaving that aside, how do you respond? Are there any historical sources apart from the ones I have already discredited? I want to deal with one issue at a time. Lets worry about the history before we get onto the prophecies. A common trick people use when backed into a corner is to change the subject!

Comment by Michael Aprile on 2006-07-20 at 03:52:10: Note that I stated that "Prophecy is the only non-changing, 'absolute' knowledge there is today." I did not say that Owen is the only non-changing, "absolute" knowledge there is today. The reason you are called "childish" is that you do not listen to good reason. All you seem to be able to do (your actual game) is to take whatever anyone writes that disagrees with your philosophy and say that it is wrong. That, I'll inform you now, is not debating. That is why you gave me no choice but to c...

Comment by OJB on 2006-07-20 at 09:17:27: You stated prophecy is the only non-changing absolute knowledge, but that is just an opinion based on no objective evidence that I have seen. My "philosophy" is to use logic and science to establish what is true and what isn't. I don't apologise if I reject beliefs which aren't based on these. I have answered your questions and posted your comments on my web site. That sounds like debating. Would you allow me to comment on the material on your site? This discussion thread was related to the h...

Comment by OJB on 2006-08-15 at 22:52:40: So despite numerous attempts to move the discussion away from uncomfortable areas, and confuse the issue with false claims, I believe I have shown my original contention is accurate: there really is no good evidence outside the Bible for the existence of Jesus. When I first learned this I was surprised myself. The whole of Christianity is based on very thin evidence. Its reasonable to doubt the accuracy of the Bible, given that its a religious text (with some real history admittedly), but once that's gone there's really nothing left. Christianity is based on nothing!

Comment by Anonymous on 2007-09-11 at 04:41:35: I was having this disussion in RS (year 8) and was set prep to find evidence that shows us Jesus did walk the planet and was son of God. I first thought of the Bible but then soon afterwards was told not to use the Bible and see who did see him and make their own evidence by writing a book or even a painting (at the time he was alive and not years afterwards, which I see is highlighted strongly in this text!) I have to say this text is quite different story to what the Bible writes but I agree w...

Comment by OJB on 2007-09-11 at 08:04:09: What I have said is all true as far as I can ascertain from a variety of sources. There is absolutely no reliable evidence outside of the Bible which supports Jesus existing. The usual sources (especially Josephus) are either fakes or based on second or third hand evidence. The Romans were very reliable record keepers and recorded all sorts of details about relatively trivial events but they have no record at all of the events described in the Bible. I believe the consensus amongst historians...

Comment by Richard Head on 2013-08-18 at 14:00:18: If you have ever had a dream about evil spirits, then by the law of averages, then you certainly must believe in the Devil that roams around in your head.

Comment by OJB on 2013-08-28 at 16:51:11: I don't think I've ever dreamed about demons or the devil myself because those just aren't subjects I concern myself with, but yeah sure, the devil exists as an idea to some people but that doesn't mean he has any real existence. People imagine many things which don't actually exist in the real world.

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