Sunday, December 12, 2010

Who Said This?

That the man Yeshua or Jesus did actually exist, is as certain as that the Buddha did actually exist: Tacitus mentions his execution in the Annals. But all the other tomfoolery about virgin birth, magic healing, apparitions and so forth is on exactly the same footing as any other mythology. (VI, p.234).

a) Bertrand Russell
b) John W. Loftus
c) Richard Dawkins
d) none of the above

31 comments:

Steven Carr said...

Actually Tacitus never mentions anybody called 'Jesus'.

No more than he mentions Nedd Ludd.

Steven Carr said...

Tacitus also claims that the Romans killed Christ.

Which is more than Acts ever does.

But then, Acts is an accurate historical document and naturally is going to say who killed Jesus correctly, unlike Tacitus, who contradicts every single statement in Acts about who killed Jesus.

Bob Prokop said...

Well, I cheated by googling the quote. The answer was quite a surprise - well found, Victor!

Warren said...

Sounds to me like it might be the early C. S. Lewis. (I haven't googled it.)

Jason Pratt said...

I'm going to make a wild guess that Steven Carr didn't say it. {g}

JRP

Mr Veale said...

Does anyone have multiple independent sources that would confirm that Steve Carr exists, and isn't a pseudonym for a group of internet infidels? Or maybe an "expert system"? Or another blogger?

Mike Erich the Mad Theologian said...

Mr. Carr

I am somewhat perplexed. I could see how someone might claim the "Christ" mentioned in Tacitus was not not the same as the Jesus of the gospels, although this seems a somewhat confluted and brings up questions of Occam's Razor. But I cannot see why you see a contradiction with the book of Acts which repeatedly makes the Roman governor and in fact the same Roman governor mentioned by Tacitus, responsible for Christ's execution (Acts 3:13; 4:27; 13:28). The idea that the Jewish authorities would hand over Christ to the Roman governor for execution and both would be considered responsible, makes sense even apart from the gospel accounts.

Steven Carr said...

MIKE


ACTS 3
You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.

This clearly states that the Jews killed Jesus.



ACTS 4
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus....

No mention of Pilate killing Jesus.



ACTS 13
Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed.

Fair enough.

In this passage, Pilate is made into the means by which the Jews had Jesus killed.

But Acts puts the blame on the Jews, and Pilate is simply there to carry out Jewish orders.


But is interesting to note that Christians, even 2000 years later, continue to insist that the Jews were responsible for killing the Messiah.

When Tacitus says nothing of the kind.

Steven Carr said...

I wonder if Tacitus sieved through records of people executed by Pilate, looking for one which said 'The Messiah was killed today'.

Tacitus only speaks about Christ, not Jesus, so presumably that would be the name he was looking for.

Tacitus would also have thought of Pilate as one of '...God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.'

Or did Paul think of Pilate as somebody who 'did not bear the sword for nothing.'

In my ignorance of matters Biblical, I can't remember if it was Paul or Tacitus who regarded people executed by the authorities as '...rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.'

Perhaps people with more knowledge than I can clarify this for me.

John W. Loftus said...

Well I certainly wouldn't have said such a thing but I'm beginning to be a bit flattered that you keep mentioning me, especially in such good company.

I guess I should thank you from now on rather than getting upset as I have in the past.

I mean after all, Prometheus Books just released their latest catalog of books and in it I'm described as "a leading atheist spokesperson." That took me by surprise even if it was made to sell my books.

Cheers

Tim said...

Does anyone have multiple independent sources that would confirm that Steve Carr exists, and isn't a pseudonym for a group of internet infidels? Or maybe an "expert system"? Or another blogger?

Based on the posts here so far, I think we can rule out any designation that contains the word "expert."

To confuse (or deliberately to conflate) Tacitus's mentioning the execution of Jesus with Tacitus's using the name "Jesus" and then to complain that Tacitus doesn't do the latter is pretty much standard Carrjacking MO. Ditto for the inability to recognize that there are clear senses in which the Jewish leaders, Pilate, and the Roman soldiers are all responsible for the death of Jesus.

Back to the OP: I hope this will put to rest the idea that Lewis was never a real atheist.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Good to see this stuff from Lewis, I was starting to wonder if he really was an atheist or just a wishy-washy agnostic (though the quote is consistent with deism but whatever).

Mr Veale said...

Of course if we had Pilate's records, and we found an entry saying "Jesus of Nazareth, so called Christ, executed today" Steve would say

"obvious Christian interpolation"

Have you heard of "bliks" Steve?

Mr Veale said...

I'm thinking of running the Jesus-Myth hypothesis a little further.

#The Council of Jamnia never happened; Josephus never mentions it
#Josephus never existed; he was the creation of Roman Propaganda, to justify Caesar's war with the Jews
#The Roman Empire never existed; it was a front for multi-national corporations. And possibly the UN.

Bilbo said...

BDK: Good to see this stuff from Lewis, I was starting to wonder if he really was an atheist or just a wishy-washy agnostic (though the quote is consistent with deism but whatever).

Lewis's own account is that he went from atheism to idealism to pantheism to theism to Christianity. I don't know which stage he was in when he wrote this, but it was probably before he became a theist.

Victor Reppert said...

John: You are a high-profile atheist spokesperson that virtually everyone who comments on this blog has heard of.

Victor Reppert said...

But of course, the careful observer would have ruled you out as the author of that quote, since the quote contains absolutely no reference to the Outsider Test for Faith.

Steven Carr said...

VEALE
Of course if we had Pilate's records, and we found an entry saying "Jesus of Nazareth, so called Christ, executed today" Steve would say

CARR
Another Christian saying 'If we had evidence....'

What a big word 'if' is, and how often do Christians have to use it when talking about what sceptics would do, if Christians had evidence.

Actually, Christians (being Christian) did forge writings of Pilate, and did such a bad job that even Christians have to concede that they were forgeries.

And up pops Mr. Veale complaining that sceptics whine about Christian interpolations about Pilate, when he knows for a fact that Christians really did forge writings by Pilate, and that sceptics are totally right to point out yet more Christian lies.



If only you did have evidence, and not the earliest Christians writing about how people killed by the authorities had it coming to them as rebels, killed by people who did not bear the sword for nothing.

If only you could complain about sceptics getting interpolations wrong, rather than having to concede that the history of Christianity is the history of forgeries , so that not even books in the Bible are by who they claim they are.

Meanwhile, despite Tim's attempts at obscuration, Tacitus would never have seen a record saying the Messiah was executed today, so he would have found the story of Christ being killed in the mouths of Christians and not in the debris of a destroyed Jerusalem.

Mr Veale said...

Tacitus visiting Jesrusalem! What are you talking about?!
In any case, you seem perfectly happy to concede that no amount of historical evidence could convince you of Jesus' existence. If it seems to be good evidence, you can dismiss it as a Christian "forgery", or as part of a Christian conspiracy.
This attitude to historical evidence is no more a part of the discipline of History, than Scientology is a part of Science.

Steven Carr said...

VEALE
In any case, you seem perfectly happy to concede that no amount of historical evidence could convince you of Jesus' existence. If it seems to be good evidence, you can dismiss it as a Christian "forgery", or as part of a Christian conspiracy.

CARR
I never said anything of the sort, as you well know, and so have to distort what I say.

I merely pointed out that you have no evidence and the evidence you suggested might exist, documents by Pilate, are indeed well-known Christian forgeries.

And that the history of Christiainity is the history of forgery and lie.

Just like the history of Mormonism, Islam and Scientology!

Tacitus is indeed evidence, but as you claim he never visited Jerusalem, he probably was just repeating what Christians of the time were telling him.

John W. Loftus said...

Although I think there was a first century apocalyptic prophet in Palestine who started the Jesus cult (who was not Paul) what I do know is that The Jesus in the Gospels Never Existed.

----------

Nice touch earlier Vic, so let me end this comment by typing the words "outsider test for faith." Now people will know this was me.

;-)

Bob Prokop said...

Merry Christmas, John.

Really, I mean it.

Mr Veale said...

John

To be honest, I don't know what your point is in that piece. I'm not really sure that you've done much more that state the blindingly obvious. And then given a nod the conspiracy theorists.

By your reasoning the Churchill of the 6 volumes of "The Second World War", the Hitler of "Mein Kampf" and the Caesar of "The Gallic Wars" didn't exist.

Neither did the Pilate of Tactitus, the Pilate of Josephus, the Pilate of Philo and the Pilate of the Gospels.

(So by Carr's "reasoning" Pilate is as historical as Popeye. (What a very odd "argument" he presents on your blog!) But we'll put his ranting to one side.)

Once you accept that there was an apocalyptic prophet named "yeshua" who started a movement in Palestine, who was crucified by the Roman authorities, and whose movement survived his execution, you have moved into the realm of mainstream Historical Jesus research.

So, what have you got to say that's new.

John W. Loftus said...

Bob Prokop, thanks!

Mr Veale said:

"Once you accept that there was an apocalyptic prophet named "yeshua" who started a movement in Palestine, who was crucified by the Roman authorities, and whose movement survived his execution, you have moved into the realm of mainstream Historical Jesus research."

Yep. That's where I'm at.

"So, what have you got to say that's new."

Uhmmm. I'm not sure I say anything that's new.

Confound the ancients, they've stolen all our ideas.

Bob Prokop said...

I actually occasionally think that no one has said anything genuinely original since about 100 A.D.

Mr Veale said...

So the point of the blog was....?

Mr Veale said...

Because even if we take the standard evangelical view of the Gospels - say Don Carson's, or Darrell Bock's (or mine!) - we do not have an exhaustive account of Jesus (especially if he was divine). We only have a portrait.

So an inerrantist could take the same principles and say "there is no Jesus of the Gospels"!

A very confused
Graham

Mr Veale said...

(1) Suppose you reject the accounts of the miracles as myths.
You still, plausibly, have valuable information about Jesus. He was the sort of person who inspired faith.

(2) Every historian specialising in researching Jesus acknowledges that he performed healing miracles and exorcisms. So I can only suppose that you are referring to the "nature" miracles, and perhaps some of the theological content of the Gospels.
Once again, the nature miracles give us, at the very least, information about the type of faith that Jesus inspired.
Given that Jesus often takes the role of YHWH in these miracles, we can safely infer that he had a remarkable impact on his followers. Within a generation of his death he was venerated and worshipped as YHWH's equal.
3) The question is: do the gospels successfully refer to an individual teacher and his ministry in first century Palestine. The answer is yes, and we can add that they provide useful information about him.
Given that cartoons intend to refer to no-one, we can dismiss Carr as providing us with more frivolous nonsense that can be safely dismissed. I'm not sure that anyone should be humouring his hubris. It seems unkind, and a little cruel.

Graham

Bilbo said...

John W. Loftus:
Nice touch earlier Vic, so let me end this comment by typing the words "outsider test for faith." Now people will know this was me.

;-)


Nice to know you have a sense of humor, John. :-)

John W. Loftus said...

Mr. Veale said:

So the point of the blog was....?

I had a point.

Geesh.

Why should I stoop so low?

That would be the first time ever.

;-)

Although, you could read between the lines.

Mr Veale said...

John
LOL! :-D
Well played.
I'll concede the point.
15-luv.

(-;

Graham