Put Your Money Where Your Myth Is: Judge Orders Priest To Prove Jesus!

Court To Decide Jesus

from Herald Sun

A judge has ordered a priest to appear in his court this month to prove that Jesus Christ existed.

The case against Father Enrico Righi has been brought in Viterbo, northern Italy, by author Luigi Cascioli, a militant atheist.

Cascioli, author of a book called The Fable of Christ, sued Father Righi after the priest denounced him in a parish newsletter for questioning Christ's historical existence.

Cascioli said there was no reliable evidence Jesus lived and died in first-century Palestine apart from the Gospel accounts, which Christians took on faith.

There was therefore no basis for Christianity, he said.


Anonymous Jeff D said...

There is no historical evidence, outside the Gospels, that the Jesus described (in often contradictory ways) in the Gospels ever existed. All references to Jesus in non-scriptural sources (such as the writings of Suetonius or Flavius Josephus) are either late (post-3rd century) insertions into manuscripts or general statements from the 1st and 2nd centuries C.E. that merely repeat what early Christians and others were saying about Jesus.

The earliest writings in the New Testament are the letters actually written by Paul (including 1 Thessalonians, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, etc.), as opposed to the epistles ascribed to Paul but not written in his style. Paul is amazingly non-specific about Jesus's origins or the time, place and circumstances of his death, or the names of most of his early followers. To my best recollection, Paul's letters never refer to Judas or Pontius Pilate or to Nazareth, Galilee, Calvary, or Bethany, or to Mary as Jesus's mother. Paul says virtually nothing about what Jesus taught and comes close to denying that Jesus worked any miracles.

All the "details" added in the Gospel accounts, which are irreconcilable in many respects, were added by the anonymous authors to make theological points and to collect and connect (as best they could) the disparate stories, myths, and rumors that had gradually arisen, like urban legends, in the preaching and teaching of the early church. The gospel writers had different perspectives on what sort of being this "Jesus" was and what his teachings were. The writers did not have our modern conceptions of historical truth and most probably did not believe they were writing or setting down "history." The details they invented (or that were invented and circulated orally by others) were MADE UP to give Jesus a pedigree or resume that could compete with similar dying-and-rising gods in that Helennic Mediterannean culture area. Many of the details of Jesus's arrest, trial, crucifiction, etc. were invented as musings on or adaptions of phrases and situations from Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) scripture in Isiah, Zechariah, the Psalms, etc., so that prophecies in the Hebrew Bible could be given distorted new interpretations to "predict" Jesus's arrival, death, and resurrection.

Many biblical scholars who use the techniques of textual and historical criticism (and who are not conservative apologists with evangelical or fundamentalist agendas) have concluded that Jesus is entirely legendary. Others have concluded that the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels is not the same "Jesus" described in Paul's letters.

There were mass crucifictions in Roman-controlled Palestine before 1 C.E. Alexander Janneus and Antiochus Epiphanes were 2 leaders who put "cult" leaders and their followers to death. It would have been difficult to prevent the indigenous populations from remembering and embellishing such terrible events. There may have been a crucifiction of one such cult leader or rabbi or teacher that was remembered and retold because of some unusual circumstance about the post-conviction burial -- a rumor spread that the body disappeared. There were many, many charismatic and itinerant rabbis or teachers in Palestine, and one or more of them most certainly spread teachings that were collected in such documents as Q (the source for most of the sayings attributed to Jesus in Matthew's and Luke's gospels) and the Gospel of Thomas.

My personal belief, which can never be verified historically, is that sometime between 40 B.C.E. and 60 B.C.E. (when Paul did his writing and "missionary" work), stories and rumors about a rabbi who was crucified (in unspecified circumstances, possibly in the distant past) and who allegedly rose from the dead (again in unspecified circumstances) became combined or conflated with accounts of the teachings of a "real" rabbi or teacher (himself possibly a composite of 2 or more teachers), and this composite person was given the label "Yeshua" (or "Jesus" in Greek). Such an explanation, while unprovable, is consistent with the structure of and the contradictions in the New Testament books.

I am a Freethinking Intellectual Secular Humanist Militant Agnostic Nontheist (F.I.S.H.M.A.N.)

January 14, 2006 4:44 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

Thanks for the ton of info, Fishman. The trail starts this week, and I've heard a lot about Flavius's book being the evidence that Jesus existed - but have never heard about the mention of Jesus being inserted into that document at a later date. I hope that comes up in the trial. Flavius sounds like the only thing the defense has and, flimsy as it is (retelling of a rumor of a rumor about someone somewhere somewhen), sounds like all they need unless it's discounted.

My view is whether or not a guy named Jesus ever existed was a little beside the point. Whoever he was - one man, an amalgam of several people, or a rumor - he did not perform miracles and was not a divine being or associated with one, even if he himself thought so. The guy who shot the pope just this week declared himself the messiah. Hell, I think I have done that once or twice. Mental institutions are full of people for whom there is just as much evidence of divinity as there is for Jesus. And if Jesus were here today, that's where he'd be. What's attributed to Jesus is all hearsay by superstitious and uneducated people with little or no direct knowledge of the guy(s) who passed along a story that, as stories always do, grew and grew with each retelling. A rumor about a body disappearing could easily become Jesus was resurrected when retold hundreds of years later, true. This happens all the time, hideous seacows become beautiful mermaids, even today. In Texas over the past few months, they've discovered an animal that is most likely what the legend of the chubacapbra is based on. Looking at the little rat-dog and the frightening creature the legend has interpreted it as, it's easy to see legends can be blown out of proportion, how homeless carpenters can, years later, perform miracles and rise from the dead. Without recording devices, direct accounts, etc., these statements are more likely to suffer from Blessed Are the Cheesemakers syndrome than accuracy.

And this says nothing about selective translation or the liberties that later editors would take with the source material. I'm not the only one who finds it odd that Jesus is born and then, next page, he's like 30yo. What happened between that time? I've always suspected that somewhere deep in the Vatican, there are books of the Bible no one will ever see, and original manuscripts that resemble little of what people read today, things deemed heresy. The Church is not above inventing that which suits their needs, such as Limbo or afterlives you have to pay money to get relatives out of. That they might invent Jesus entirely or radically alter the character seems almost expected - "a woman?! Outrageous! The messiah cannot be woman! Then women will revolt against us! The Bible must reinforce their role as either whore or virgin. Let's just change that - make Mary the messiah's mother! Yes, and make her a virgin." "Excellent idea, your holiness!" "And these two books about her teenage years where she converts to Hinduism - burn them." "Yes, your excellency!"

January 23, 2006 7:45 PM  
Blogger E said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 17, 2007 3:44 AM  
Blogger E said...

prove he didn't,
oh wait.. you can't..
so basically you are just whining.

not to mention that you can't work out the concept of life.

look, I'm smarter than you, I'm right.

June 17, 2007 3:47 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

Prove who didn't do what, exactly?

Prove Jesus didn't perform miracles? Can you prove Gilgamesh didn't ascend to godhood? Or that Zeus didn't turn into a swan? Or that Valkyrie don't hover over fallen soldiers in Iraq? Disprove leprechauns, Einstein.

What? Can't do that? Exactly.

Your premise - that it did happen because the Bible says so, and that the onus is on me to disprove it - is as flawed as your assessment of your own intellect. I don't have to disprove your fairy tales. That's your job.


June 19, 2007 12:04 PM  

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