So... this is an old paper of mine, about 3 or 4 years old. This came up whenever Benjamin, yes him, decided to use a specific web page to prove that Jesus was "historically true" funny stuff, so now I'm transferring this old piece of work here.
The Jesus Claim.
Jesus is a popular figure in today’s world, from a symbol of the church to his infancy representing Christmas for the popular Christian family. Overall Evangelical Christianity has seen a rise in recent years in America directly leading to the increase of Jesus as a historical figure.’ This is my attempt to explore that claim. Did Jesus actually exist back during Nero’s time, or was he a myth brought up to start a new sect of Christianity?
How do historians actually evaluate someone’s existence? They primarily gather first-hand testimonies, primary sources, documents that validate and confirm each other, and several different sources mentioning the person. Note that I myself am NOT a historian and am simply an aspiring philosopher who is sifting through the evidence, researching, and making an argument for the truth. Let’s go over each source, or at least the main sources, that claim Jesus’s existence and see if there are any flaws, or if each account is true.
Before we can investigate separate claims we must prosecute the main source of evidence for Jesus’s existence. The bible. According to Atheist and former Christian studying to be a priest Matt Dillahunty, the bible has over 80 books in total with several Jewish and Roman Catholic sources confirming this fact. However the popular protestant bible has 66 books, the Roman Catholic have 73, and the Jews have 23 books. Why such a big disparity? Well, it's speculation that a majority of books were cut from the bible due to an unpopular view of the books by the society of the time.
Based on how most priests and religious scholars treat the Bible as a perfect book, the fact that other sources of the bible were found suggest that the books were cut by religious sources. Based on this fact we can deduce that whenever the protestant or catholic church doesn’t like a book they can simply discard it leading us to mistrust the rest of the book. You see, if the book is god's word then there are two reasons for people cutting books, A) They didn’t like what the books say, or B) they didn’t feel like they were inspired by God. However, 3 different churches claim three different book amounts. So even if it were true that the church didn’t believe the books were inspired by God, which church is right? I mean they all operate on the same book with differences of translation and which books are in it.
Now let’s talk about the disparity of time. Basically, most sources conflate and confuse when the bible was written. Some say even 4000 years before the roman empire for the old testament while others claim it's as new as 100 years after Nero. Not to mention some sources claim as few as 5 authors collected and wrote the bible while others cite 40. Almost no one can seem to agree WHEN the bible was written, who it was written by, how many books are in it, or how many people actually wrote the thing. All of these by themselves would throw heavy doubt on the historic veracity of the Bible, but all of them has to lead me to throw it out as a source of historical claims altogether.
Based on these facts we can conclude the bible to be an unreliable source at the very least. As history has shown this collection of texts has been heavily edited and changed, entire books shaved away or added in order to fit the religion. So only relying on the bible as a source to prove Jesus’s existence won’t work. We’ll need extraocular sources to conclude Jesus's existence. Some popularly cited work that has been used to prove Jesus’s existence is Jewish Antiquities by Flavius Josephus. In XX, Chapter 11 there are a handful of mentions to a character named Jesus.
Both of them mention Jesus as someone with a different father. There is Jesus, the son of Damneus, and Jesus, the son of Josadek. As opposed to the bible in which he is referred to as the son of Joseph. He is also referred to as a high priest of the Jewish religion even though the Bible specifically refers to how most of the Jews were opposed to Jesus. This would lead to me to again suppose one of two things. One, there were at least three different Jesus’s gallivanting around, though the Jewish Antiquities do mark out how he is ‘christ’, or the source of Flavius’s information on Jesus was unreliable or a myth. Along with Flavius's accounts, there are several other historians who are cited as mentioning Jesus.
Tacitus is one of these historians. He records and writes on the times around when Jesus would have been alive and kicking; however, much of his work was lost including around the time when Jesus would have been supposedly tried. However, his later works mention him once as ‘Christos’. These works are dated to about 1000 years after Jesus would have been born indicating none of these of a direct account and therefore debunking these as primary sources. Also barely any of his ‘works’ are referenced just as in Flavius’s writing indicating a lack of information that the bible supposedly drew from. Not to mention a large group of historians bring into contention the translation ‘Christos’ as it is often mistranslated and confused with ‘Chrestos.’ Leading me to believe that the record of ‘Christos’ is nothing speculative rumor.
Another popular one is Suetonius; however, he is the source of the ‘Christos’ ‘Chrestos’ conflation. Not only that, but his works do not indicate any of Chrestos’s actual life instead of seemingly describing a god on earth as most generally broad myths would describe. Again no mentioning of his works would not only not connect the source with the bible but at this point actively discredit the bible as most of these are historically valid sources for the most part. Beyond the translations issue, several Historians and philosophers debate about the timing of this too dated to about 150 years after his supposed death more than enough time for rumors to start and myths to conflate.
The last historian I would like to talk about would be Thallus who addressed several of Christians's prominent arguments. For example, he contested the claim of the world’s supposed darkening during Jesus’s execution. He never confirmed his existence nor did he ever even actually claim he had valid sources for thinking Jesus was real. Instead, he simply confuted popular protestant and even catholic opinions of what happened. The thallus is typically misrepresented in most Theological talks about Jesus as a historical figure.
None of these historians have linked a solid or coherent valid proof for Jesus’s existence. Not only are none of this good evidence, but some of them decently imply that Jesus was nothing but a myth. For example Flavius’s ponderings and listing of different Fathers of Jesus in his own work not to mention against the bible. Thallus, Suetonius, and Tacitus's failure to mention Jesus as anything more than a vague idea with barely any reference to what he did. To claim someone is anything more than a rumor you have to have accredited sources agreeing he existed with at least some first-hand testimony backing up said sources.
For these reasons, I see no reason to treat Jesus as a historical figure instead he was most likely a mythical figure made up to inspire Jews to rise up out of systemic Roman and Jewish oppression of the time. The myth taking inspiration from other beings like Buhda or Muhamad. Using Secular and Theistical Historical and philosophical sources I’ve deduced this much. This paper also further destroys the bible as a historical document even without scientific claims the book likes to violate. As Jesus is a central idea to the new testament and if I was indeed correct in concluding he was false then the entire book would be discredited. Upon this evidence I have concluded that Jesus is a myth please join me in questioning the seemingly unquestionable.
https://davidmiano.net/blog/2018/06/10/how-historians-determine-the-historicity-of-people-and-events/ June 10, 2018 by David Miano
https://www.everystudent.com/forum/historical.html - Author Not Listed
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2848/2848-h/2848 -h.htm Author: Flavius Josephus/Translator: William Whiston/Release Date: January 4, 2009/Last Updated: August 9, 2017
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Flavius-Josephus November 12th, 2019 by Gary William Poole
https://jewsforjudaism.org/knowledge/articles/jesus-in-the-talmud/ 2000 by Gil Student
http://www.josephus.org/testimonium.htm Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3 §63 (Based on the translation of Louis H. Feldman, The Loeb Classical Library.)
http://www.truthbeknown.com/suetoniuschresto.html by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S
http://bib.irr.org/tacitus-suetonius-and-historical-jesus Febuary 20th, 2017 by Robert M. Bowman Jr.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/suetonius.html Archive (Author: Not Listed)
https://freethoughtnation.com/does-suetonius-refer-to-Arjesus/ October 16, 2012 by Acharya S/D.M. Murdock
https://www.reasonablefaith.org/question-answer/P70/thallus-on-the-darkness-at-noon May 10, 2010 Transcript of a question from emailer ‘Steve’ response by ‘Dr.Craig’
https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/texts/bible.shtml John Drane Last updated 2011-07-12
https://www.biblestudy.org/beginner/when-was-old-testament-written.html Author Not Listed
https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/when-was-the-bible-written.html Dr. Michael A. Milton
https://www.everystudent.com/features/bible.html Author Not listed