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Trying to determine if Jesus existed
The Buffalo News ^ | 1/29/2007 | JAY TOKASZ

Posted on 01/29/2007 10:02:46 AM PST by presidio9

An Amherst-based group will lead a new effort to examine whether Jesus of Nazareth existed in history. The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion is billing its scholarly investigation the "Jesus Project," and it plans to take the work of the controversial "Jesus Seminar" a step further.

The "Jesus Seminar," which formed in 1985, focused on what sayings in the New Testament were truly spoken by Jesus and what deeds he actually performed, but in the end it didn't question his existence.

Amid much fractious debate - as well as dismissive criticism from many Christians - the group of seminar scholars concluded that fewer than one-fifth of the statements attributed to Jesus in the four Gospels were actually made by him and also agreed that he did not rise from the dead.

The "Jesus Seminar" still exists, but interest in its work has faded, and its founder, Robert Funk, died in 2005.

Members of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, which is based at the secularist Center for Inquiry, near the University at Buffalo North Campus, want to reignite the debate with a different emphasis.

Many of the scholars involved with the "Jesus Seminar" examined the question primarily from a theological perspective, said R. Joseph Hoffman, who heads the committee and will organize regular meetings of historians, classicists and other scholars for the "Jesus Project."

Others involved at this point include Robert M. Price, a former "Jesus Seminar" participant, and Gerd Ludemann, a history professor in Germany, Hoffman said.

The new investigation will differ from the "Jesus Seminar" because it won't be hamstrung by theology, he said.

The committee regards the belief that Jesus was a historical person as a "testable hypothesis," just like any other historical question.

Hoffman announced the "Jesus Project" on Sunday at the conclusion of a conference on "Scripture and Skepticism" at the University of California at Davis.

The conference attracted scholars from around the globe to explore the use of historical and critical interpretation in the study of religious texts.

The "Jesus Project" will keep that method of research at the forefront in examining the existence of Jesus, Hoffman said.

"We can't let this discussion be dominated by people who do theologically driven history," he said.

The "Jesus Project" is not necessarily an attempt to disprove that Jesus existed, Hoffman said. "I happen to believe there probably was a Jesus of Nazareth, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be asking the question," he said. "I'm kind of agnostic about it. I want to look at the historical evidence."

The committee will begin accepting applications in March from scholars interested in participating. Members of the project will meet twice a year - once in Amherst and once in Los Angeles.

Hoffman predicted the work of the group would take no more than five years and result in the publication of majority findings and minority findings.


TOPICS:
KEYWORDS: antichristian; atheismandstate; christianbashing; christophobia; flaviusjosephus; liberalagenda; moralabsolutes; religiousintolerance; scientificmyth
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1 posted on 01/29/2007 10:02:47 AM PST by presidio9
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To: presidio9

Erev rav.


2 posted on 01/29/2007 10:03:47 AM PST by MeanWestTexan (Kol Hakavod Lezahal)
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To: presidio9

Maybe they should look into all the other figures of recorded history that probably did not exist. /sarc


3 posted on 01/29/2007 10:05:05 AM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: presidio9
The "Jesus Seminar" still exists, but interest in its work has faded, and its founder, Robert Funk, died in 2005.

Frankly, I doubt that the Jesus Seminar ever existed.

4 posted on 01/29/2007 10:05:12 AM PST by Brilliant
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To: presidio9
The "Jesus Seminar" still exists, but interest in its work has faded, and its founder, Robert Funk, died in 2005.

I swear, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.
5 posted on 01/29/2007 10:05:14 AM PST by JamesP81 (Eph 6:12)
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To: presidio9

Oh brother.


6 posted on 01/29/2007 10:05:53 AM PST by pissant
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To: presidio9

Any predictions on the outcome of this venture?


7 posted on 01/29/2007 10:07:24 AM PST by GrandEagle
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To: presidio9
I didn't even know there was any doubt about it. The Jewish writers and the Roman writers of those times acknowledged that he lived so what's the problem.
8 posted on 01/29/2007 10:08:27 AM PST by fish hawk (Hate the sin but love the sinner, except for the sin of Liberalism)
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To: JamesP81
Robert Funk, died in 2005
Too bad they cant talk to poor Robert - H knows for sure now.
9 posted on 01/29/2007 10:08:35 AM PST by GrandEagle
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To: JamesP81
Robert Funk, died in 2005
Too bad they can't talk to poor Robert - He knows for sure now.
10 posted on 01/29/2007 10:08:54 AM PST by GrandEagle
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To: presidio9

There is no question he existed and that he did what they said he did. Buddhists and Hindus might question if he was the only one who did what they say he did, but they don't question that he did those things because it is not the kind of thing people make up. Besides that, it was big news all around the Mediterranean and all the way to India that very day--don't ask how they got the word out so quick before Internet, but they did.


11 posted on 01/29/2007 10:09:10 AM PST by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: presidio9
How the hell do they proclaim that 4 out of 5 statements in the New Testement, that he did not make?

Did they go to the videotape?

12 posted on 01/29/2007 10:09:37 AM PST by Lazamataz (You are not your mind. You are not your emotions. You are not your pain. All you are is love.)
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To: JamesP81

"...and its founder, Robert Funk, died in 2005."

--I swear, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.--

Is the founder of the Catholic Church still alive?


13 posted on 01/29/2007 10:09:42 AM PST by UpAllNight
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To: presidio9

..settled that about 30 years ago...


14 posted on 01/29/2007 10:11:22 AM PST by WalterSkinner ( ..when there is any conflict between God and Caesar -- guess who loses?)
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To: Fitzcarraldo

Well, there are certain things scholars look for in determining whether a "historical" figure existed or not. Of course there are documents mentioning that person, but the documents that really clench the deal are those written by a figure's enemies. Do we have any writings from the Jewish leaders at the time mentioning Jesus?


15 posted on 01/29/2007 10:11:42 AM PST by Junior (Losing faith in humanity one person at a time.)
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To: RightWhale

--There is no question he existed and that he did what they said he did. Buddhists and Hindus might question if he was the only one who did what they say he did, but they don't question that he did those things because it is not the kind of thing people make up.--

How do you support the statement that Buddhists and Hindus don't question that he did those things?


16 posted on 01/29/2007 10:11:54 AM PST by UpAllNight
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To: UpAllNight
UpAllNight, I've been on religious threads where you've posted. Do you ever post anything but antagonistic, rhetorical questions? I don't want an answer, and I'm not starting a dialog with you. I'm just posting an observation.
17 posted on 01/29/2007 10:13:14 AM PST by GreenAccord (Alright, everyone. Rotate your tagline)
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To: presidio9
The "Jesus never existed" industry is already alive and well, this new entrant - like its precursor entity - is just a better-branded vehicle for the rehashing of the same tired propaganda.

The existence of anyone who is now deceased is by definition not a "testable hypothesis."

The existence of anyone who ever lived is dependent solely on the testimony of third party statements and documents.

18 posted on 01/29/2007 10:14:00 AM PST by wideawake
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To: presidio9

They should knock themselves out. We know more about what Jesus did and said than we know about any other person in history - at least before the advent of the printing press.


19 posted on 01/29/2007 10:14:02 AM PST by agere_contra
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To: UpAllNight
Is the founder of the Catholic Church still alive?

Indeed He is. You wouldn't be posting right now if He weren't.

20 posted on 01/29/2007 10:14:54 AM PST by wideawake
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To: wideawake

--Indeed He is. You wouldn't be posting right now if He weren't.--

Why? He would have banned the internet?


21 posted on 01/29/2007 10:17:10 AM PST by UpAllNight
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To: presidio9

Who's funding this?


22 posted on 01/29/2007 10:17:15 AM PST by GoLightly
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To: presidio9
The "Jesus Seminar" still exists, but interest in its work has faded, and its founder, Robert Funk, died in 2005

Well, nobody thinks HE's ever coming back from the grave.

23 posted on 01/29/2007 10:17:34 AM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: Fitzcarraldo; MeanWestTexan; Coleus; wideawake; Froufrou

Presidio9 trying to determine if Flavius Josephus existed...


24 posted on 01/29/2007 10:17:51 AM PST by presidio9 (There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey)
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To: Lazamataz

They began with the premise that He was not the Son of God, but merely a wise teacher. Then, they ruled out anything that indicated Christ claimed He could perform miracles, and anything that indicated people might go to Hell. Once they had it down to "Judge not lest ye be judged" and a couple of other phrases that reduced the Lord to being a doe-eyed hippie that said nothing more controversial than "be nice", they felt they had the true teachings of Jesus.


25 posted on 01/29/2007 10:18:34 AM PST by Richard Kimball
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To: UpAllNight

I don't support nuttin and I don't have to support nuttin. I do not like this tendency for cross examination on FR lately; it is a waste of mental energy.


26 posted on 01/29/2007 10:18:53 AM PST by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: GreenAccord
UpAllNight, I've been on religious threads where you've posted. Do you ever post anything but antagonistic, rhetorical questions? I don't want an answer

Isn't that an antagonistic, rhetorical question?

27 posted on 01/29/2007 10:19:36 AM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: presidio9
Trying to determine if Jesus existed

The question they should be asking is not whether Jesus existed, but whether He still exists.

I am happy to report that He does.

28 posted on 01/29/2007 10:20:07 AM PST by Logophile
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To: presidio9; JamesP81; wideawake; pissant

This is what happens when people overthink stuff.


29 posted on 01/29/2007 10:20:43 AM PST by Froufrou
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To: Junior
Josephus on Jesus, from Wikipedia
30 posted on 01/29/2007 10:21:26 AM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: Froufrou

This is what happens when people can't think


31 posted on 01/29/2007 10:22:32 AM PST by pissant
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To: fish hawk

Do we know they actually existed? Why does this sound so like the Holocaust denial industry to me?


32 posted on 01/29/2007 10:23:17 AM PST by steve8714 (Isn't Israel a sovereign nation? Why do they do what we tell them to do?)
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To: presidio9

If an original manuscript of Josephus' writings could be found...


33 posted on 01/29/2007 10:24:09 AM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: Lazamataz

Nope they threw dice or different color markers. I forget which.


34 posted on 01/29/2007 10:24:44 AM PST by lastchance (Hug your babies.)
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To: presidio9

Looking for: letters from Pilate or reports from Judea during Jesus' time...


35 posted on 01/29/2007 10:25:54 AM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: UpAllNight
Is the founder of the Catholic Church still alive?

That would be a big 10-4, good buddy...

36 posted on 01/29/2007 10:26:45 AM PST by presidio9 (There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey)
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To: CharlesWayneCT

Happily the Founder of the Christian religion lived, died was buried and rose from the dead. His Faith has lasted 2000 years and gives peace, comfort and meaning to the lives of millions who proclaim themselves Christian even if it means torture and death. These guys won't even call themselves atheists, preferring "skeptic".


37 posted on 01/29/2007 10:27:33 AM PST by steve8714 (Isn't Israel a sovereign nation? Why do they do what we tell them to do?)
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To: GreenAccord
I've been on religious threads where you've posted. Do you ever post anything but antagonistic, rhetorical questions?

The funny thing is that he asked the wrong question in a mocking tone. As far as Christians are concerned, OF COURSE Christ is still alive.

38 posted on 01/29/2007 10:28:19 AM PST by presidio9 (There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey)
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To: Fitzcarraldo

So lame the hair of Tom.


39 posted on 01/29/2007 10:28:20 AM PST by steve8714 (Isn't Israel a sovereign nation? Why do they do what we tell them to do?)
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To: All
On the arabic version of Josephus:

"...[edit] Arabic version

In 1971, professor Shlomo Pines published a translation of a different version of the Testimonium, quoted in an Arabic manuscript of the tenth century. The manuscript in question appears in the Book of the Title written by Agapius, a 10th-century Christian Arab and Melkite bishop of Hierapolis. Agapius appears to be quoting from memory, for even Josephus' title is an approximation:

For he says in the treatises that he has written in the governance of the Jews: "At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders" - Shlomo Pines' translation, quoted by J. D. Crossan

Pines suggests that this may be a more accurate record of what Josephus wrote, lacking as it does the parts which have often been considered to have been added by Christian copyists. This would add weight to the argument that Josephus did write something about Jesus.

However, Pines' theory has not been widely accepted. The fact that even the title of Josephus's work is inaccurate suggests that Agapius is quoting from memory, which may explain the discrepancies with the Greek version. In addition, the claim that Pilate condemned Jesus to be crucified and to die has been interpreted as a reaction to the Muslim belief that Jesus did not really die on the cross."

40 posted on 01/29/2007 10:28:32 AM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: UpAllNight
Why? He would have banned the internet?

God is alive. Because He is alive, you are also. Therefore, you are able to post.

Were God not alive, nothing would exist.

Which would severely curtail the number of UpAllNights available to post and the number of hosting facilities for them to post on.

41 posted on 01/29/2007 10:29:38 AM PST by wideawake
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To: presidio9

Another reason to avoid Buffalo, as if we needed one.

Religion aside, it's always interesting to watch the narcissism of "scholars" who claim to be interested in science but always betray the fact that they are interested first and foremost in what goes on in their own lives.


42 posted on 01/29/2007 10:30:18 AM PST by relictele
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To: steve8714

LOL haven't seen that movie or read the book yet....


43 posted on 01/29/2007 10:30:30 AM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: Richard Kimball


Sort of reminds me of how upset the secular crowd got about The Passion Of The Christ, because it focused mostly on His death, and not enough on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, philosopher.


44 posted on 01/29/2007 10:30:40 AM PST by presidio9 (There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey)
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To: presidio9

I'm trying to determine if Robert Price exists - for all I know they guy claiming to be Robert Price may be using a false identity and there never was a Robert Price to begin with - just a bunch of forged documents and lying witnesses colluding through time and space to perpetuate this whole Robert Price hoax.


45 posted on 01/29/2007 10:32:20 AM PST by wideawake
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To: Fitzcarraldo
If an original manuscript of Josephus' writings could be found...

The criticisms of Josephus are pathetic. If somone was going to go in later and add referrences to Jesus, its pretty logical that they would make them more than a couple of throw-away lines. Granted, I doubt that a Jew would have said that He was the Christ (that probably WAS later editing), but the fact that Josephus did mention a person named Jesus seems pretty credible.

46 posted on 01/29/2007 10:34:33 AM PST by presidio9 (There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey)
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To: CharlesWayneCT

Ahhh, the sweet irony of my post.


47 posted on 01/29/2007 10:37:06 AM PST by GreenAccord (Alright, everyone. Rotate your tagline)
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To: UpAllNight
Is the founder of the Catholic Church still alive?

No, but his boss is. ;)

48 posted on 01/29/2007 10:45:45 AM PST by Enosh
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To: presidio9

Next they'll tell us history didn't begin until the Vietnam War...the Libs keep referring to it as if it it were some major point in history.


49 posted on 01/29/2007 10:45:59 AM PST by madison10
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To: wideawake

--Were God not alive, nothing would exist. --

ERGO, because we are alive, God exists.


50 posted on 01/29/2007 10:47:35 AM PST by UpAllNight
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