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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Jesus - Looking For The Man

       Was there a real Jesus? 

       I do not doubt that there was a real Moses because his name is Egyptian and who would invent a national founder of a different nationality? The same applies to the name Heracles who, in all the stories, was tormented by Hera. Jesus was so common a name if you threw a rock in any Judean street you were likely to hit a Jesus or Mary.

        The Dead Sea Scrolls also refer to a Messiah who had lived a few generations back, despite them being contemporary with or predating the biblical Jesus.

        On the other hand the Beatitudes rhyme in Aramaic, but not in the Greek it was written in, which means they were said by an Aramaic speaking teacher.

         Wikipedia's article on the Historicity of Jesus  says almost all the biblical scholars agree he did, but then they have an incentive to don't they.

        But they have another Christ Myth article, which lists opponents and their views and in fact most of them are willing to accept there was a guy it is just that most of the stories are accretions, which I am comfortable with.

        However I ran across this list on Listverse, of 8 reasons he existed.

8 Paul’s Epistles
7 Contradictions
6 The Baptism

5 Josephus
4 Tacitus
3 The Ossuary
2 Modern Religion

1 The Crucifixion

        Of them I find #8 convincing. Paul's Epistles are accepted as historical letters and Paul refers not just to meeting and not getting on with St James but of him being Jesus' brother. Since James was the leader of a rival faction (more committed to having a primarily Jewish cult) there is no way he would have acknowledged the link if he could disputed it. 

        One writer who started doubting his reality came round to accepting Jesus as the author of what is called the Q document - something which is a common source of the 4 gospels. The common source seems difficult to doubt but the fact that no trace of such a document exists has always been  a problem.

        However if  it was not a written record but an oral one of the actual words of Jesus then there is no problem. Remember this is an era before mass literacy when Homer was passed on orally for most of a millennium.

       These are the bits of the bible generally attributed to the Q document:

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For years I had assumed that Jesus had not existed, but then I gave it a bit of thought and decided that, on the balance of probabilities, he did.

I do however doubt that there was a real Moses, and I'm none too sure about Mohammed either.
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