“What would lead people to make all this stuff up – all of it – from scratch? Not just embroidering or adding to existing stories about an existing person, but inventing all of the above, including the bits that clearly work against their purposes? So far, I have not heard an adequate explanation for this. Of the two theories, therefore, the theory that Jesus did actually exist – that, at the start of the story of Christianity, there was an actual Yeshu or Yeshua who preached and had a following and was executed by the Romans – fits the available data a lot better.” – Dr. Sarah
- Last October, Dr. Sarah posted on her Geeky Humanist blog a piece on why she accepts the historicity of Jesus. In essence, she sees the various contradictions and other problematic texts in the Jesus tradition recorded in the Gospels as indicative that this isn’t myth become history but rather the other way around. For example, both Luke and Matthew provide contradictory accounts of why Jesus could be called a Nazarene even though they both have him born in Bethlehem. But why? Dr. Sarah writes that “it would surely have been so much simpler to leave out the Nazareth claim and write Jesus as coming from Bethlehem in the first place.” It makes more sense that Jesus was known to be from Nazareth and that later authors needed to connect him to Bethlehem because of the prophecy of Micah 5:2 – a historical figure become mythic.
- Back in December Andrea Nicolotti posted a piece in ANE Today on the scourging of Jesus. We don’t know much about the intensity of Jesus’ scourging but he surely would have endured some form of it as a victim of Roman crucifixion. But Nicolotti pushes back against anachronistic understandings of Roman scourging that were based upon medieval ideas on it. It is an interesting survey of the data and what the weapon used to scourge Jesus may or may not have been.
- @StudyofChrist continues his series on Isaiah with a discussion of the relationship between an account by Herodotus that explains the Assyrian retreat and the story we find in the biblical texts. I’ve read some Herodotus over the years but never read the section @StudyofChrist discusses. Interesting stuff!
- Pete Enns ruins Exodus on a recent podcast. It’s only part 1 so here’s to hoping more follow soon.
- A common apologetic trope is to claim that because the disciples died for their belief in Jesus that this somehow tells us something about the veracity of Jesus’ resurrection. But how do we even know that the disciples died for that specific belief? @Paulogia0 takes on material produced by pop-apologist Mike Winger on this very issue.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.
3 thoughts on “The Weekly Roundup – 5.10.19”
While I definitely believe Yoshua/Jesus, et al., was a “historical figure” i.e., that he certainly was a real human being that existed during the first century, I do not believe that he set out to create a new religion, per se. My reading has led me to believe that Jesus (let’s just call him “Jesus” for the purposes of this writing) was a devout Jew, possibly a Pharisee since he seems to answers the questions put to him by the Pharisees much as a Pharisee would respond. More specifically, an apocalyptic preacher who believed that the “end of times” were coming contemporaneously. So why wouldn’t their dogma be created out of whole cloth? Aren’t they all? After all, the entire enterprise was highjacked by Saul and turned into something completely “other” as far as Jesus is concerned. And Paul’s letters and the gospels were all written – as well as embellished – well after the death of Jesus by person or persons unknown to him. It was only the “hand of fate” so to speak, that resulted in the scattering of the Jerusalem church, allowing Paul and his Greco-Roman flavored mythology to proliferate. Had that not happened, I believe there is good reason to think that Jesus’s church would have come to be known as just another strain of Orthodox Judaism.
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I’m with you. It seems the historical Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet and a Jewish one at that. He would have been Torah observant and would not have seen himself as anything else but God’s anointed sent to deliver a message of repentance in light of the coming reign of God.
Thanks for commenting!!!
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When speculating about Jesus, I find it very helpful to have input from Jewish sources since they are much more aware of what the “original” scripture (i.e., Hebrew Bible) holds for the messiah. Of course, Jesus himself makes some very poignant comments about how he holds the Law, and his view that the end times were imminent. A great source for me has been Rabbi Tovia Singer’s videos on YouTube where he takes on all challengers regarding issues within the NT as well as dubious interpolations into the Hebrew texts by Christians in order to reconcile Jesus’s actions or words. He’s brilliant, knows the NT, the Septuagint, the early church fathers; Origen, Polycarp, Eusibeus, etc. better than most Christian scholars. He has a whole other take on Jesus, Paul (especially Paul, wow!) and the Jerusalem church. Very insightful!
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