Monday, November 15, 2010

Historical Jesus?Just ask for the evidence

I had an interesting exchange with Professor Larry Hurtado on a blog post written by Helen Bond.

Professor Hurtado was , of course, a bit rude in his replies to me. This is understandable, as he probably is used to dealing with his students and colleagues, who would not dream of asking him for the evidence that Judas existed.

It is interesting that Biblical historians will refuse to give any evidence, even when asked point blank to do so. Instead they will claim that I regard them as 'ignorant' and 'worthless', even when you have as polite to them,as they have been obnoxious about you.

I should point out that all Biblical historians can do is say 'These people are in the Bible, so they must have existed.'

This is bad logic, but what else could Professor Larry Hurtado say? He had no evidence, so all he could say was 'The Bible says so.'

When did Jesus die?

Here is my reply to Professor Hurtado, although I doubt that it will be allowed.

Paul, of course, is a primary source, so letters by him are primary documents. Claims by Paul to have existed and to know of the existence of Apollos,Priscilla etc are valuable primary affidavits.

Mischaracterising my views by pretending I do not know the difference between primary and secondary sources is not nice of you.

The Gospels are secondary anonymous sources. They mention a lot of characters who,like a lot of characters in the Book of Mormon, do not exist outside their pages.

Therefore , the gospels are not evidence of the existence of Judas,Lazarus, Barabbas, Thomas, and the vast cast of Gospel characters who are never mentioned by Christians writing to each other.

‘ You ask for an affidavit signed by first-century Christians, but unfortunately we don’t have any such affidavit for most people from history.’

Is this an explanation of why there is no evidence for Judas? Because no evidence should be expected?

Explaining why there is no evidence of their existence is not producing evidence that they existed.

The difference is the sheer number of people mentioned in the Gospels who vanish into thin air as soon as there is a public church, in precisely the same manner that the Angel Moroni vanished when Joseph Smith went public.

No Christian ever named himself as seeing this vast cast of Gospel characters.

And when Christians write to each other, and tell each other of examples of people who behaved in a certain instructive manner, they almost invariably use Old Testament examples,even if the actions of Judas, John the Baptist, Lazarus, Thomas, Joseph of Arimathea etc would have been far more suitable material to use.

‘you misconstrue Paul’s comment in Romans 10:14-15, if you take it to mean that no Jew had ever heard of Jesus.’

As I already pointed out, Paul is clear that Jews HAD heard of Jesus. People had been sent to preach about him.

Paul asks rhetorically, how can they believe in the one they have never heard of, and how can they hear unless somebody is sent to preach.

He then points out that people have been sent to preach about Jesus, so that Jews do now know about Jesus, and not all have accepted the good news.

The implication is obvious that Paul thinks Jews heard about Jesus by people sent to preach about him.

Mischaracterising my views by pretending I claim Paul says Jews have never heard of Jesus is not nice of you.


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