Instigator / Pro
Points: 1

Was Jesus of Nazareth a real historical figure?

Finished

The voting period has ended

After 3 votes the winner is ...
fauxlaw
Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
History
Time for argument
Two weeks
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Contender / Con
Points: 21
Description
No information
Round 1
Published:
First round is for acceptance. I am glad that you wanted to debate this. You must cite your sources at the end of each argument by leaving a works cited either in your argument or in the comments. The Bible will not be used as historical evidence, however compelling it may be. Please maintain good ethics and conduct, and refrain from profanity or other insults. I am anxious to start this debate. 
Published:
We have the Bible and other holy writ in which there is a reference to Jesus of Nazareth [The Qur’an, and the Book of Mormon, for example. The former, however, is not contemporary to Jesus, and the latter, while encompassing a history of 1,000 years, bridging the era of Jesus, was from another continent]. However, there appears to be no credentialed contemporary record of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. It is granted that while no current example of a contemporary history exists, it does not mean that such will not be found by future efforts.
 
Considering the Bible, the earliest text ever found was a scroll discovered at Ein Gedi, an ancient Jewish community near the Red Sea, found in 1970 and dated at roughly 2,000 years ago.[1] However, this was a text of the Book of Leviticus, not a New Testament text, and indeed not the original Leviticus text.
 
There are two historians referenced in a search, Josephus, and Tacitus, but neither one of these men was a contemporary of Jesus. They were born in the first century, but both post-dated the alleged advent and death of the subject character, so the validity of either record is second-hand, at best.
 
Josephus[2] was born in Jerusalem within the decade of the reference of the crucifixion of Jesus. He surely grew from childhood hearing stories of the exploits of Jesus, but this would have been no more credentialed material than, for example, my secondhand knowledge of my maternal grandparents, who both died before my birth.
 
Tacitus[3] was a Roman, born approximately 20 years following the alleged crucifixion of Jesus. He was a historian and politician. In his young adulthood, he learned his trade in Rome, and, by then, Christianity was well into being a persecuted religion. Stories of Jesus were likely familiar to this literate young man. However, I would apply my grandparents’ notation above as a similar consequence to Tacitus.
 
The closest we come to “original” New Testament era scrolls date from the fourth century C.E., written in a Greek dialect known as koin𝛈[koine – or “common”], used by Christian communities at the time.[4]  These texts, themselves, refer to earlier texts in use by locals in the second century C.E. Even these referenced, but currently non-existing texts, post-date Josephus and Tacitus.
 
An example of the potential absurdity of substantiated records is an anecdotal experience. Josephus and Tacitus had no better confirmation.
 
An attorney/judge friend of mine once presided over a case I observed in court. I was not party to the litigation in any respect but as a spectator. With the Court’s approval, I was seated at the prosecutor’s table, as if an aide, though I never spoke and was never consulted. The case involved the fraudulent transfer of an amount of money alleged to have been the work of the defendant, to his benefit, in a gambling enterprise in Las Vegas. The prosecutor also happened to be a friend of my judge friend, though the former and I were not as well acquainted. When the defense presented their case, Defense counsel called his first witness, not a direct material witness, but a professional in the accounting business, serving in a capacity relative to the money aspect of this case. The defense offered the first question:
 
“Please give your name for the record.”
 
“Objection!” the prosecutor rose to shout. “Hearsay!”
 
“Sustained,” my judge friend proclaimed, to the frustration of the defense counsel.
 
“On what grounds?” Defense demanded.
 
The judge merely motioned to the prosecutor, intrigued by how his friend would reply.
 
“What is the evidence of his name?” the prosecutor charged.
 
“Why, his driver’s license should suffice.”
 
“No, that document is hearsay. How does defendant know of his knowledge that the name on his license is his?”
 
“Well, it’s the same name on his birth certificate. I can procure and present both documents for the Court.”
 
“All well and good,” the prosecutor replied, “but what assures the Court that this is his name?”
 
“Why, his parents told him so.”
 
“Hearsay,” repeated the prosecutor.
 
“Sustained,” my friend the judge, declared with finality.
 
I said it was an absurd logic, but such is the burden of proof on my opponent without contemporary, non-Biblical accounting of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.
 
The importance, indeed the necessity of a contemporary [to Jesus] record of the man from Nazareth cannot be overstated. Any other record post-dating the life of the man must be suspect as secondhand, at best. If/when such a document is finally found, and substantiated as historically accurate and contemporary, then the above is withdrawn as passé. Until then, the charge stands as unfulfilled.

Cited references are in the comment section.

Round 2
Forfeited
Published:
One might approach the question of an historic Jesus of Nazareth from the perspective that, even by just biblical reference, he could be construed as more than one person, and perhaps not an historic figure at all, but an icon, albeit fictitious. Something like Superman occupies our modern conscience. 
 
Let me explain the Superman reference.[1]Superman, a fictitious character was and is a capture of imagination of generations of Americans, at least, and represents, similar to Jesus, a character who seems to transcend the neighborhood as not being a product of it. I am not arguing that Jesus and Superman ought to relate in some cosmic sense; I am drawing a comparison merely by argument. Perhaps, on the other hand, I am a liar. This is unique superhero lore in that Superman is the real deal; it is Clark Kent who is the disguise. In a similar manner, Jesus is presented, first, as a wunderkind, heralded as a king when still an infant, whose fame is somehow suppressed in childhood such that we have virtually no childhood description beyond the miraculous birth, by a virgin, no less, except for the little family’s flight into Egypt, and then, as a profound twelve-year-old who converses the scriptures with the elders in the Temple in Jerusalem.
 
We lose track until suddenly he emerges in the wilderness with his adversary, Satan, who offers three temptations, the whole of which cover the essential three elements from which all sins rise: power, pride, and possession. Yet, with no apparent background to give him the skills of counterpunch, he confounds Satan in each temptation.
 
Suddenly, he emerges again at the shore of the Jordan River to meet John the Baptist, his cousin, to be baptized by the latter. John protests; it is he, rather, he tells Jesus, that he, John, must be baptized by Jesus! From John’s view, Jesus is sinless, needing no baptism. Jesus demurs, says that John’s task in baptizing Jesus is “…to fulfill all righteousness.”[2]John complies, and thus Jesus’ ministry is launched.
 
This is precisely the baptism of fire experienced by Clark Kent as he assumes his new role as Superman. Forever after, the small man from Smallville is Superman, citizen and, in a secular sense, savior and champion of the world. However, as iconic as Superman is, his morphology is limited to either Superman, or the disguise, Clark Kent.
 
There are many story themes like this of a myriad of examples. That the Holy Bible should include the theme in its pages is, at least, literary assumption of license. Santa Claus, who, coincidentally, is a Christmas icon like Jesus, is a fictitious character who takes many years of childhood to grow beyond, and relegate to a good story, but is not real. This is Superman, as well. Good story. Not real. Jesus? Good story, but no contemporary historic evidence, either.
 
The Holy Bible, though full of great ideas for exemplary living, and great ideas for illicit living, appears to be another literary masterpiece of a great epic story of a vast stage to present likeable and unlikeable characters. As literature, it succeeds, partly because we have in it a character who is transcendent is his morphology from a simple carpenter, to a good/evil scholar, to a messenger like Nietzsche’s Madmanwho rises one bright morning with a lighted lantern, and goes into the streets proclaiming, “I seek God!”[3]He works miracles, and teaches incessantly. Then he morphs into a silent apologist, who, when Pilate inquires, “Whence art thou?” answers not a word.[4]The next morph is whipped, beaten, hung on a cross with Pilate’s cruel joke of a coronation with thorns: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” He dies, and fulfills the final morph as a risen God. Osiris offers a similar story in the Pyramid Texts of Ancient Egypt.
 
It s entirely possible with so many morphs, we are looking at multiple characters in an epic, bestseller yarn. It did, after all, take a few centuries to put the first scrolls into reader’s hands, so engrossing, challenging, and tragic was the story. And, it is an unmatched best-seller.



Siegel, Jerry & Shuster, Joe, Superman,DFC Comics, Action Comics #1, 1938

Holy Bible, Matthew 3: 15

Nietzsche, Friedrich, The Gay Science,Vintage, New York, 1974

[4]Holy Bible, John 19: 11, 12

Round 3
Forfeited
Published:
Extend argument
Round 4
Forfeited
Published:
Extend argument
Round 5
Forfeited
Published:
Unfortunately, my opponent has forfeited this debate, offering no arguments beyond the first round, which was effectively waived without offering any first round argument., Therefore, I delcare victory in the debate, simply based on my first round arguments for the fact that, beyond biblical text, there is no contemporary history of Jesus of Nazareth; only the histories of non-contemporaries as noted in round one.
Added:
--> @fauxlaw
You're welcome.
#18
Added:
--> @VonKlempter
Thank you for voting
Contender
#17
Added:
Lest any question my resolve in conducting this debate in taking the contrary view, I remind readers to review my commentary in post #10, accepting this debate. I took the debate knowing I was arguing against my own conviction that Jesus was and is an historic figure. The proof of that is in my heart, where no man can assail and no man deceives. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, as was so eloquently repeated by Peter upon the question from his Master, "Whom say ye that I am?" There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that he is the Christ, the Lamb of God.
Contender
#16
Added:
I wonder if my opponent has abandoned the debate; profile indicates has not been on the site in a month...
Contender
#15
Added:
--> @JesusChrist4Ever
A reminder to my opponent that just 5+ days remain for a round 3 argument, and avoidance of forfeiture, having already forfeited round 2.
Contender
#14
Added:
--> @BiblicalChristian101
Sorry to disagree, but none of the three historians you mentioned were contemporaries to Christ. The closest to fitting that description was Josephus, who was born in 37 CE, in Jerusalem, within the decade [third of the century] of Christ's crucifixion. The others, Tacitus, was born in 56 CE, and Sueetorius, in 69 CE.
Contender
#13
Added:
--> @Ragnar
Thanks for your suggestions on definitions. I suppose it would be good to use the "Full Description" section when launching a new debate to offer definition. Too late now. However, I think a counter argument of Jesus being multiple figures might just confuse matters. On the other hand, I have accepted this debate being a firm believer in Jesus Christ, so the whole effort is contrary to my sensibilities. Nevertheless, There are 5 argument sessions, so I might need an added argument depending on the course my opponent takes, and "clones" is as good as any.
Contender
#12
Added:
Cited references from argument #1:
[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/scientists-finally-read-the-oldest-biblical-text-ever-found-a7323296.htm
[2] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Flavius-Josephus
[3] https://www.britannica.com/biography/Tacitus-Roman-historian
[4] https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/tools/bible-basics/what-are-the-earliest-versions-and-translations-of-the-bible
Contender
#11
Added:
I am going to engage this debate from a Con perspective, even though I am a confirmed believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, as well as a common man of Nazareth. It is engaged strictly as a personal challenge to take an opposing view, and I accept the challenge to keep any religious aspect of my argument out of the argument, but for Biblical reference if deemed necessary. I do consider one definition of the Bible as historic and literary text, of value on these considerations, alone.
Contender
#10
Added:
I'm interested by the idea of his debate. I might accept is, but I'm not sure how well I would do (and I'm also religious).
#9
Added:
And also, the reason that the Bible is not included is that it only applies to those who believe it is true (such as myself) and not to everyone, plus it is kind of a given.
Instigator
#8
Added:
The title has been fixed after constructive criticism to Jesus of Nazareth. While this debate might be hard to argue from the con side, I would like to see a valid argument for it
Instigator
#7
Added:
--> @zedvictor4
Christ is a title, not a last name. The Bible can be used as evidence if proven that the Bible is a historical books with historical events (the New Testament, of course).
#6
Added:
--> @JesusChrist4Ever
Was Jesus Christ the son of Mary Christ and the adopted son of Joseph Christ. Otherwise, why use the title of Christ in a totally non-religious debate setting?
And for similar reasons the Bible should not be permissible as evidence.
In fact the more one thinks about it, the more ridiculous the proposition becomes.
#5
Added:
--> @JesusChrist4Ever
This debate would be too easy. Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius all mention Christ. One of these men is a Jewish historian that lived during the time of Christ. The others are Roman historians who mention that Christ was killed by Pontius Pilate and the other mentions an event found in the book of Acts, namely the expulsion of Christians from Rome due to tumults about Christ. Though, these accounts don't describe the life of Jesus they treat Him as a historical figure.
#4
#3
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
The Instigator waived the first round, and forfeited the rest. Even if he had managed a decent argument in R1, it can still be considered a full forfeiture from Pro. Sources and grammar are self-explanatory.
#2
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Not applicable.
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Forfeiture.