Historical evidence for Jesus (was Ossuary with the name of

From: Iain Strachan (iain.strachan@eudoramail.com)
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 08:49:54 EDT

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    On Fri, 25 Oct 2002 00:08:56 Adrian Teo wrote:


    > Another thing is that Jesus, Joseph and James were fairly
    >common names, and we have no way of knowing for sure if they refer to
    >the ones we are thinking about. I think some people are making too
    >big a deal out of this find.

    I agree with the above, but it touches on an issue concerning the
    discussions on this list that has niggled for a long time.

    The fact that people are making a big deal out of this find perhaps
    reflects a desperation to find actual historical extra-biblical
    evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ.

    If you do a Google search on "Origins of Christianity", you will find
    many web-pages, some scholarly and some cranky, that argue that Jesus
    Christ never existed at all; that he was just a mythological figure
    that evolved out of other mythological stories (there are many other
    mythological accounts, if I recall correctly of a man/god that
    results from the union of a human and a God). Other scholars have
    argued that the scenario where a virgin is sacrificed in order to
    appease the fertility gods is a precursor to the Christian story
    pattern. (i.e. new life arising out of a sacrificial death). I've no
    reference at hand, but the idea was presented in a Penguin commentary
    on T.S. Eliot's poem "The Wasteland". The sacrifice of the virgin
    idea is devastatingly presented in Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring".

    This also reflects on Vernon's gematria calculations in the Bible.
    The plain fact is that it was not Vernon who introduced me to this
    phenomenon, but a fairly distinguished Professor of History of
    Mathematics (I. Grattann-Guinness), who pointed out to me that the
    NT gematria were riddled with examples that came to multiples of the
    number 37. His take on the matter is that it is the strongest
    possible evidence that human beings constructed the bible, and NOT
    God, because human beings have been fascinated by, and have played
    with, numbers from the earliest times. The number 37 itself has a
    long history of being revered by ancient cultures; Plato himself was
    fascinated by this particular number. This all adds to the idea that
    Christianity was a concocted myth that human beings wove their own
    numerology into, because numbers and their interrelationships are the
    only things that you can be sure of (ie prove relationships beyond
    doubt). Naturally I disagree with Grattann-Gu!
    inness's interpretation of it, and continue to research this
    phenomenon in order to better understand why it occurs.

    However, the above is somewhat of an aside. I have noted that it is
    common practice on this list to debate the historicity of certain
    biblical stories (the creation, the flood - global variety -, Jonah,
    Job, whether Peter walked on water etc), that are taken as literally
    true by those of a fundamentalist persuasion. Those who choose to
    take it literally say "what is your faith based upon?". The answer
    is "the risen Christ". But .. we really don't have more than a
    pitiful handful of evidence for the existence of Christ as a
    historical person apart from what we read in the NT. There is
    Josephus, who is often quoted, but what if he, too was hoodwinked by
    the mythology?

    Therefore, instead of this continual chipping away at the bits of the
    bible that contradict our scientific knowledge, I would prefer to see
    some more solid debate on why we believe Jesus Christ was real. A
    creationist takes it on faith that the biblical account of Creation
    is historically true. I guess just about everyone on this list takes
    it on faith that Jesus Christ was a historical character. What's the
    difference? The difference, I suspect, is that we know that Jesus is
    absolutely central to our faith, whereas the Creation is perceived by
    many as not being a key issue. But to an unbelieving outsider there
    would be just as much reason to question the existence of Christ as
    to disbelieve the Creation account.

    Therefore, let's try and have some positive debate to build up our
    faith, rather than this continual chipping away.


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