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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Other Topics  |  Off Topic Discussion  |  Special Poll for Easter - WHO WAS JESUS OF NAZARETH? « previous next »
Poll
Question: Who or what do you think Jesus of Nazareth was?  (Voting closed: May 07, 2012, 03:39:23 PM)
The Son of God - 10 (43.5%)
A First Century Jewish Mystic - 1 (4.3%)
A Lunatic - 0 (0%)
A Prophet - 0 (0%)
Mainly a Myth - 6 (26.1%)
A First Century Political Revolutionary - 6 (26.1%)
A Misunderstood Rabbi - 0 (0%)
Total Voters: 20

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Author Topic: Special Poll for Easter - WHO WAS JESUS OF NAZARETH?  (Read 3552 times)
Nakuyabi
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« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2012, 12:56:54 AM »

Going down the list:

The Son of God:

This is my answer. One is hard-pressed to come up with any reason why the Pharisees and Sadducees would have wanted him dead if he hadn't claimed to be this, and he certainly couldn't have raised himself from the dead if he weren't one with God the way he claimed to be.

A First Century Jewish Mystic

One can make a case for this, but only in the sense that God is the ultimate mystic: "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares YHWH. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"

God is so transcendent that He can create a rock too heavy for Him to lift, and then lift it anyway. That's because as with space, time, matter, and the laws of physics, God created logic and therefore rules over it. While The Resurrection was definitely His greatest miracle in that it was the most beneficial to us, I'd say making free will and predestination coexistent in defiance of all logic was the greatest miracle in terms of being the greatest show of power: compared to being able to transcend logic, all other miracles in the Bible are mere child's play.

A Lunatic

Definitely not. However, if Jesus were not God as he claimed, he would have to be this to be as deluded as some skeptics try to make him out to be. As C.S. Lewis puts it, he'd have to be roughly on the same level as a man who believes himself to be a poached egg.

A Prophet

At least one blind man thought this of Jesus after being cured of his blindness, mainly because that was all he could think of. (Apparently he'd been paying attention in the synagogue when the rabbis read out loud about prophets and some of the miracles they'd done.) Prophets, however, are mere predecessors to Jesus; he's only this in the sense of being the master of the prophets, just as the King is a noble in the sense of being the master of all the nobles. The description is accurate, therefore, but inadequate.

Mainly a Myth

The evidence is overwhelming that he cannot be this. While Jesus did inspire some mythology, particularly in apocryphal works and in far-flung parts of the world where native peoples have not completely understood the Gospel as presented to them, doubting his existence is beyond absurd. Moreover, one would have to wonder what all the fuss was about had he not done something impressive enough to infuriate his enemies and inspire his disciples to action.

In view of these disciples' absolute conviction and the success of their message, every new attempt to explain away their claims concerning Jesus' miracles and teachings is more pathetic than the last. Near-death would not have left Jesus presentable enough to be proclaimed a risen God, the disciples were in no physical or psychological condition to rifle a tomb and steal a body, mass hallucination and shared dreaming is impossible, and people don't get themselves persecuted and martyred for anything they know to be a lie. About the only way Jesus could be a mere myth would be if he were actually some kind of fantastic ruse pulled off by very technologically advanced space aliens or time travelers; skepticism that requires one to imagine a story even more incredible than the story one is trying to debunk is too absurd even to consider.

A First Century Political Revolutionary

Here's another somewhat accurate, but mostly inadequate description. Jesus never called for an armed revolt against Rome, for any reform to government, or for any government support for his teachings. The only sense in which he was politically revolutionary is in having fulfilled the second chapter of the book of Daniel, in which Christendom overthrew all previous kingdoms and empires and filled the earth. While Jesus did get this process started, our history attests that this has been a gradual process, and isn't even finished yet. One should always maintain a healthy level of skepticism toward any politician who claims Jesus as a political mentor or--worse--a constituent.

A Misunderstood Rabbi

Definitely not. While his disciples themselves admit to finding his words confusing on several occasions, they went on to tell us how this all came to make sense to them once Jesus came back from the dead and gave them their instructions. As for his enemies, while they did not believe him, they can hardly be said to have misunderstood the gist of his teachings; if he hadn't really been God the Son as he claimed, they would certainly have been justified in executing him for blasphemy, not to mention sorcery and idolatry.

Bonus: A Great Natural Philosopher

As mentioned concerning his Jewish mysticism, this is also an accurate but inadequate description: the God who created logic and transcends it surely finds science (originally known as "natural philosophy"), another creation He transcends, mere child's play. To give a charitable assessment, Thomas Jefferson may have had a good classical education, but in grasping the extent of God's power, he was seriously lacking in imagination. Jesus was not bound to any chemical formula or laws of physics in turning water to wine, let alone coming back from being dead.
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« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2012, 09:05:07 AM »

The first possibility - that Jesus was a good but deluded person who sincerely believed in His Godhood - is certainly plausible.  I don't buy it, but it would make sense.

2 and 5 are fairly similar, and have been posited by a number of skeptical scholars over the years. But there is no motivation for 2, and no real reason to believe 3 - especially when we consider the early dates for the three synoptic Gospels.
4 - That one is hard to make a case for. Again, assuming the quotes are accurate, Jesus claimed to be divine in pretty clear and unambiguous terms. He forgave sins, accepted worship, said that He would judge the dead on the last day, and claimed to have known Abraham and others who lived long before He was born.
3 - a "noble lie" - I have a hard time with.  A group of men who were too cowardly to defend Jesus when He was arrested, or to stand by His side as he died, suddenly cooked up this story and were willing to face a martyr's death for something they KNEW to be false?  And what "greater good" would their lie really accomplish if it encouraged people to entrust their souls to something that was fundamentally false?
As for 5, I think that is the case that many modern critics, from Bart Ehrman to the "Jesus Seminar," have tried to make -that the Gospel writers got it wrong. There I think you again have to look at it from this perspective - the Biblical gospels are the earliest, and most reliable, accounts of Jesus' life we have.  Everything else dates from much, much later, long after the eyewitnesses were dead. The earliest Gnostic Gospels, those attributed to Thomas and Judas, are both between AD 150 and 200.  That's 120 years, minimum, after the crucifixion.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke were most likely all composed before 70 AD, and probably a decade or so before that.  That puts them well within the lifetime of the ones who knew Jesus.  In short, if the Biblical gospels do not present an accurate picture of Jesus, then no such picture exists.  They are the best we have to go on.
I think, in evaluating the claims of Jesus, you eventually come back to the trilemma first pointed out by C.S. Lewis - Jesus of Nazareth may have been a liar, or a lunatic, or the Lord.  But a good man He was not.

That's fine, I didn't want to get into a debate on fine details. My main point was I don't really like the "Jesus was either Lord or a liar---you're not calling Jesus a liar, are you?" line of argument.

No offense to Zapranoth, I'm sure his opinion is more nuanced than that---I suspect that like you, he's rejecting the other alternatives as implausible. However, the way the dilemma (or trilemma) is phrased skips a step.
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« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2012, 09:52:10 AM »





That is one Jesus you don't want to 'mess' with.

[Went with the political activist as I feel it most accurately describes who he was]
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« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2012, 12:37:05 PM »

Jesus was the Son of God....and I thank God for His precious forgiveness through Jesus.
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« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2012, 01:37:15 PM »

A guy who, like many others of the time, was dissatisfied with the religious establishment and its corruption.  He also had, again like many others, some religious/political ideas that differed from the mainstream, so he gained his own following.  And I think it can't be denied that he really liked to be the center of attention.   Smile

Kind of amazing really - considering how many people back then were doing the exact same thing, they were forgotten while he rose to be a defining figure in Western civilization.

     Hummmm....did you ever consider WHY?
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« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2012, 01:39:51 PM »

     He is Who He said He is, and He did what He said He would do.

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If it's true what they say, that GOD created us in His image, then why should we not love creating, and why should we not continue to do so, as carefully and ethically as we can, on whatever scale we're capable of?

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« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2012, 02:13:16 PM »

Of the few simple rules I live by, there is only one that truly never fails me:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

I don't hold anybody exempt from that requirement. As such, after a few years of being a Christian, and many years of contemplation, I have yet to justify the Bible as extraordinary proof of the events it depicts.
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« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2012, 03:54:14 PM »

I have no good reason to believe he even existed.
But even if he did, and he was anything like that in the bible, he was not a good man. He's perfectly okay with slavery. He never said it was wrong.

He say in Matthew:10:5 "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
This wouldn't be a problem, but he also said that he is the only way to the father (and heaven).
So, the gentiles and samaritans are condemned to hell. Eternal torment. By Jesus.

Jesus had no problem with the idea of drowning everyone on earth in the flood. It'll be just like that when he returns. Matthew:24:37

"His blood be on us, and on our children." This verse blames the jews for the death of Jesus and has been used to justify their persecution for twenty centuries. 27:25

Jesus criticizes the jews for not killing their disobedient children as required by Old Testament law. (See Ex.21:15, Lev.20:9, Dt.21:18-21) Mark:7:9-10

10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,
10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.-Mark
So, abandon your friends and family. You'll be rewarded.

Luke:12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:

I'm pretty sure I could find even more examples of injustice or cruelty.
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« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2012, 04:50:26 PM »

Virtually every verse you cite is lifted out of context and twisted to mean the opposite of what Jesus taught.

The FIRST time Jesus sent his disciples forth, he sent them to His own people.  Later on, He Himself led them
to minister among the Samaritans (John 4).  And then, when he left them for heaven, he told them to go and "teach ALL nations." Kinda blows the first one out of the water.

His comment on "the days of Noah" refers to the fact that just as those people long ago ignored Noah's warnings and calls for repentance until the flood came, in the last days people will go on ignoring His message until it is too late.

"His blood be on us, and on our children," while definitely misused by the church in later centuries to justify anti-Semitism, was what the mob actually cried out to Pilate when he tried to acquit Jesus, and washed his hands of the whole affair.  Matthew simply recorded what they said without commentary.  The verse does not "blame the Jews."  It records the fact that that particular angry mob of Jews, at that moment, accepting responsibilty for what happened at that moment.  Any interpretation beyond that is over-reaching.  After all, the disciple who heard the remarks, and recorded them, was also a Jew.

Jesus does not command all His followers to leave their families and possessions, but says that, if they do, they will be rewarded for what they lose.  Saving souls for eternity is more important than earthly attachments.

And last of all, the verse in Luke - not a command but a simple comment: The teachings of Jesus will cause division because some will accept them and others will reject them.
He was dead on right about that, as this thread demonstrates.

He also said "Peace I give unto you, my peace I leave with you - not as the world gives."
He does not promise peace to a sinful and war-torn world, but He does promise true and inner peace to those who embrace Him.

To say that there is "no good reason to believe he even existed" is to ignore history.  Not only the Gospel narratives, but non-Biblical histories such as Josephus and Suetonius record that he was a real person.
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« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2012, 05:23:45 PM »

Virtually every verse you cite is lifted out of context and twisted to mean the opposite of what Jesus taught.

The FIRST time Jesus sent his disciples forth, he sent them to His own people.  Later on, He Himself led them
to minister among the Samaritans (John 4).  And then, when he left them for heaven, he told them to go and "teach ALL nations." Kinda blows the first one out of the water.
You see, this is just one of the many, many contradictions in the bible. Jesus says something here, and something completely opposite somewhere else.


His comment on "the days of Noah" refers to the fact that just as those people long ago ignored Noah's warnings and calls for repentance until the flood came, in the last days people will go on ignoring His message until it is too late.
Okay. That makes sense.

Quote
"His blood be on us, and on our children," while definitely misused by the church in later centuries to justify anti-Semitism, was what the mob actually cried out to Pilate when he tried to acquit Jesus, and washed his hands of the whole affair.  Matthew simply recorded what they said without commentary.  The verse does not "blame the Jews."  It records the fact that that particular angry mob of Jews, at that moment, accepting responsibilty for what happened at that moment.  Any interpretation beyond that is over-reaching.  After all, the disciple who heard the remarks, and recorded them, was also a Jew.
The new testament is full of anti-semitism. This really isn't the worst, but it is quite exploited. John blames the death of Jesus on jews. 19:7

Quote
Jesus does not command all His followers to leave their families and possessions, but says that, if they do, they will be rewarded for what they lose.  Saving souls for eternity is more important than earthly attachments.

And this is moral how? Give up everything for me, I'll make it worthwhile?

Quote
And last of all, the verse in Luke - not a command but a simple comment: The teachings of Jesus will cause division because some will accept them and others will reject them.
He was dead on right about that, as this thread demonstrates.

One of the prophecies that actually came true. Although I'm not stunned by the prediction that: "People will disagree in the future."

Quote
He also said "Peace I give unto you, my peace I leave with you - not as the world gives."
He does not promise peace to a sinful and war-torn world, but He does promise true and inner peace to those who embrace Him.

This implies that one needs him in order to achieve inner peace. Many would disagree.

The gospels were written 30 to 60 years after the events have supposedly took place. The story was passed on by word of mouth, by uneducated, superstitious people.
Josephus's source was written in about 94.
Suetonius's source wasn't contemporary either.

I noticed that you haven't addressed the issue of slavery, and Jesus condemning the jews for not killing their children for being disobedient.
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« Reply #25 on: April 10, 2012, 05:27:16 PM »

Quote
To say that there is "no good reason to believe he even existed" is to ignore history.  Not only the Gospel narratives, but non-Biblical histories such as Josephus and Suetonius record that he was a real person.

Josephus' references to Jesus and the crucifixion by Pilate is the closest that anybody has ever come to finding non-Biblical evidence from the time of the events, and they were were produced about 100 years afterwards. Further, there is a good deal of debate over the authenticity of those references. A Christian will point to any justification that they are authentic, while an atheist will do just the opposite. I will do neither.

The authenticity of Suetonius' references to Christians and Christ are similarly questionable.

I'm not saying they are immaterial, only that they are far from being moving historical evidence, at least when compared to evidence of other historical figures from late antiquity. I make no claims as to whether Jesus existed or not. I'm only saying that for all the digging done in the name of Christianity to find non-Biblical evidence of Jesus, the two examples you use are the best that exists. You clearly accept them as historical concretes, while I am saying they prove nothing either way.

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« Reply #26 on: April 10, 2012, 05:54:51 PM »

Lots of arguments are made over precepts in the bible.  If LUKE suggested he brought division and not peace, he made a savvy observation.  Truth and justice are often absent and the oppressor wants it that way.  JESUS certainly believed in the "old GOD" and was consistent in most if not all regards.  JESUS' story is remarkable because he was impoverished, obscure, villified then executed.  If men did that, there must be something worthy of a second look here.  I have no problem with GOD or JESUS.  It's mankind that worries me.  
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« Reply #27 on: April 10, 2012, 07:18:52 PM »

I have no problem with GOD or JESUS.  It's mankind that worries me.  

Same here. It seems to me that the life of Jesus, his identity and meaning, were essentially established far more by his followers than by him. I remain convinced that the man and what he really did or stood for are shrowded in mystery. The events were not even deemed noteworthy enough by contemporaries of the time to warrant an historical record. Yet, obviously the events lead to the establishment of what is today the dominant faith in the world. I still have no idea who Jesus was or what he intended. If he had had widespread impact on his contemporaries, there would be a historical record of note, but there isn't. It certainly is a mystery that deserves attention, and despite my leanings I find the subject fascinating.

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« Reply #28 on: April 10, 2012, 07:51:33 PM »

Quote
You see, this is just one of the many, many contradictions in the bible. Jesus says something here, and something completely opposite somewhere else.
He did not contradict himself; he gave them new instructions.

Quote
This implies that one needs him in order to achieve inner peace. Many would disagree.
Not inner peace, salvation.  There is a difference.  You can be at peace with yourself, but still offend others, or God.  Assuming that God exists and that he created humanity (how doesn't matter), he would have expectations to determine if his creation was worth keeping.  Think of it this way: you make a machine.  One day it breaks, and can no longer do everything you need.  Now, you made this machine; you don't want to just throw it away.  Still it is impractical to keep something that doesn't work.  What do you do?  First you will probably try to fix it.  If that doesn't work, you will scrap it.  Jesus is God's attempt to fix humanity.  

Quote
The gospels were written 30 to 60 years after the events have supposedly took place. The story was passed on by word of mouth, by uneducated, superstitious people.
Paul was an educated Jew, and a Roman citizen.  Acts and Luke were written by one of his fellow travelers.  Acts was partially written in 1st person, and someone who was with Paul would have had access to people who saw the events in Luke, like Jesus's mother.

Quote
The new testament is full of anti-semitism. This really isn't the worst, but it is quite exploited. John blames the death of Jesus on jews. 19:7
Yes, the people that called for His death were Jewish, and John points that out.  John was written later, after Christians considered themselves a separate religion, so he avoids calling Jesus's followers Jews.  He does not ask that people kill, hate, or discriminate against Jews; he was merely trying to give the Christians a separate identity.  The other gospels are more even, they put the blame on the Jewish leaders, not the Jews in general.  

Quote
I noticed that you haven't addressed the issue of slavery, and Jesus condemning the jews for not killing their children for being disobedient.
Slavery in the 1st century was not the same as the 1800s.  It was done to captives of war, or to pay extreme debts. In the latter case it, was only allowed for a limited time.  Slaves were to be freed every 7 and every 50 years.  Even then, wether or not the New Testament supports slavery can be debated.  It depends on how you understand a few short passages.  
Jesus never said people should kill disobedient children; He said the Pharisee's put their traditions God's law.  The law he used as an example did advocate executing children who cursed their parents, but the emphasis was on the Pharisees ignoring God's laws for their own interpretations of said laws, not on the law itself.

Quote
If he had had widespread impact on his contemporaries, there would be a historical record of note, but there isn't.
I bet there would be more records if Jerusalem hadn't been razed.
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« Reply #29 on: April 10, 2012, 07:56:52 PM »

Quote
I bet there would be more records if Jerusalem hadn't been razed.

Probably.
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