Skip to comments.Trying to determine if Jesus existed
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.
--Indeed He is. You wouldn't be posting right now if He weren't.--
Why? He would have banned the internet?
Who's funding this?
Well, nobody thinks HE's ever coming back from the grave.
Presidio9 trying to determine if Flavius Josephus existed...
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.
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.
Isn't that an antagonistic, rhetorical question?
The question they should be asking is not whether Jesus existed, but whether He still exists.
I am happy to report that He does.
This is what happens when people overthink stuff.
This is what happens when people can't think
Do we know they actually existed? Why does this sound so like the Holocaust denial industry to me?
If an original manuscript of Josephus' writings could be found...
Nope they threw dice or different color markers. I forget which.
Looking for: letters from Pilate or reports from Judea during Jesus' time...
That would be a big 10-4, good buddy...
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".
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.
So lame the hair of Tom.
"... 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."