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josie's avatar

Do you think that the man we call Jesus, and/or who inspired the first Christians, actually existed?

Asked by josie (30926points) December 16th, 2018

Don’t. I do not want to get into another dog chasing it’s tail argument about divinity and God. You probably remember that I am a total non believer. So please don’t. At least not here.

My question is, do you think the guy actually existed in one form or another.

The four gospels were not even written down until a hundred years after the events. Nobody knows who actually wrote them. Most inhabitants of that part of world were illiterate, so it certainly did originate as original writings of the principles. Plus, they were written in Greek, not Aramaic.

The only non biblical references are Tacitus and Josephus. And they too were written well after the fact.

Maybe no one, not even a mortal man, existed as Jesus.

Myself, I think he probably did. I don’t believe in the supernatural at all, but I think a guy probably walked the earth and left his fingerprints all over Western civilization and it was the guy we call Jesus.

So I give him some respect at Christmas.

What do you think?

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38 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know, but I kind of doubt that there was one such person. I think his gospel of peace was a philosophy at the time, and a good one, but I think many people, including women, contributed to it.

canidmajor's avatar

Why not? Muhammad is pretty well-documented to have been a real person, why not Jesus of Nazareth? Muhammad was a product of a more culturally advanced civilization, therefore likely better documented. Jesus may have been an activist with a following, and used to further an agenda with some claiming he had mystical abilities.

flutherother's avatar

Christian writings describing the life and death of Jesus were written within the lifetime of eyewitnesses, for example the epistles of St Paul. Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian, refers to Jesus in a history he wrote in 93AD and Tacitus also refers to the execution of Jesus which took place while Tiberius was emperor.

Some of these writers did not view Christianity or Jesus favourably. It seems there was no doubt in the ancient world that Jesus was a historical figure and I think it’s very likely that a real person who was executed by the Romans gave rise to the cult that became Christianity.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I’m Jewish. We we were always taught that Jesus was a nice Jewish boy, smart, and a bit uppity. Sort of like the Abbie Hoffman of his day.

Good kid but nothing special, and certainly not godlike. All that Son of God staff came later by someone else.

Judaism also doesn’t believe for a second in the whole resurrection story.

ucme's avatar

Yeah I reckon he did, was probably just some loud mouthed, brash “celebrity” who got exaggerated over time, bit like Trump a couple of thousand years down the line.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If he did exist, he obviously didn’t make the waves he makes today.

josie's avatar

@elbanditoroso
But you believe a guy existed that is the guy we call Jesus. Totally understand the question of resurrection.

ragingloli's avatar

Well, thewe was a man named Bwian, son of Naughtius Maximus, but he wanted nothing to do with all that cwap.

josie's avatar

@ragingloli

Is that a no?

janbb's avatar

Well, I’d be inclined to agree with this scholar on this, if not much else.

ragingloli's avatar

A big, fat no. There may have been minor figures, that inspired the creation of this character, but no actual person.

canidmajor's avatar

@janbb, friend of yours? ;-D

janbb's avatar

No friend but at least he’s an expert!

Dutchess_III's avatar

@janbb I thought Jesus had always been predicted in the Old Testament?

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III Nope. They predicted a Messiah, I believe, but not Jesus. Anyway, the scholar cited above knows more than I do about it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I thought Jesus was the Messiah. The Jews that believed he was broke away from Judaism to form Christianity. The Jews that didn’t think he was stayed Jewish.

canidmajor's avatar

@janbb, that book looks interesting. I may have to indulge!

JLeslie's avatar

I think he did. I’m an atheist also, but I believe Jesus was a nice Jewish boy who maybe was a hippy of the time. For some reason when others told stories about him being the son of God and the Messiah, those stories caught on. Many other men had been nailed to a cross, but Jesus went what be the equivalent of ”viral” today.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Could be they just made him up at the Council of Nicaea 350 years later.

kritiper's avatar

Very likely. It doesn’t mean he was the son of anybody, though. Just a man with a message.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If he existed was was someone’s son!

kritiper's avatar

I meant son of some thing some might view as EXTRA special! (You’re too literal!)

Dutchess_III's avatar

You mean the son of God.

Pinguidchance's avatar

Come again?

The putative prince of peace: shrouded in myth and mystery; his story most unlikely, historicity almost certain.

mazingerz88's avatar

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder maybe the Biblical writers who were such amazing writers and also so super smart they knew no matter which “character” they created, thousands of years later no one would have found a way to prove or disprove it so they simply ran away with it.

seawulf575's avatar

I think so. There were a lot of things written about Him. The Gospels you mentioned were not originally penned until years later and it is interesting that the stories change a little as you go through them. Part of that is the authors, part is the time away from the occurrences. A lot of them were writing from the oral teachings that had been passed down from the original disciples. But let’s get to some that were far more contemporary to the time of Christ. Paul’s letters to Corinth, Rome, etc. All were written by Paul before he died and he was alive while Jesus was and they interacted together. It seems odd that a person would write consistent letters to many groups of people, referencing the teachings of someone they all supposedly had heard of, if it was all a scam. Because that really is what the other side of the coin is…that if Jesus didn’t exist, then everything was a hoax. And that makes no sense either. Why create a hoax that would bring you persecution and pain? What did those creating it gain? Nothing but jail time for the most part. Some were beat, Stephen was stoned to death. Why create a hoax that benefits you with all that?
So yes, it seems to me that Jesus did exist. Whether he was the Son of God, the Messiah, part of the Three in One is between you and your beliefs.

kritiper's avatar

I didn’t exactly mean “The son of God,” nor did I mean to preclude “God” at all. Something like ET could be imagined to be the father of Jesus Christ, if he, Jesus Christ, did indeed exist.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It is my understanding that he is not mentioned anywhere but in the Bible @seawulf575.

rojo's avatar

Yeah, I think a person of that name existed and was involved in the religion of his day. Others built up stories, legends, exaggerations to suit their own purposes.

LostInParadise's avatar

I think it is quite possible that the stories about Jesus followed very loosely from the life of an actual person. Consider that the Rastafarians of Jamaica have named the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie as their god. Link

seawulf575's avatar

@Dutchess_III that may very well be true. But remember where the bible comes from. It was a collection of scrolls and other “papers” that were gathered together and the Council of Nicea got together to debate which of them were pertinent, which were consistent, and which were legit. So it isn’t like the bible was written by one individual trying to create a fictional character. So things like the letters from Paul have to be considered. He was writing to groups around the known world that were already followers of Christ’s teachings. The letters were kept and made their way into the bible. So why would you write letters about a person to people that knew and accepted the teachings of that person if that person never existed? It seems odd. And Paul puts the dating of the writings to within a couple decades at most from Jesus’ death. And it’s not like Paul wrote the letters with the plan that they would be stored away secretly so they could be found and assessed 300 years later.
It really doesn’t surprise me much that finding references of Jesus are rare. Think about it. At the time he was alive and teaching he wasn’t considered much by the Jews or the Romans. He was an annoyance to the Jews and pretty much nothing to the Romans. Why would they write about him? But here are a couple examples of where he is mentioned outside the bible:
Tacitus was a Roman noble that wrote this about what Nero blamed the big fire on:
“Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, and the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. ”
Josephus who was an aristocratic Jewish historian wrote this:
“About the same time there lived Jesus, a wise man for he was a performer of marvelous feats and a teacher of such men who received the truth with pleasure. He attracted many Jews and many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate sentenced him to die on the cross, having been urged to do so by the noblest of our citizens; but those who loved him at the first did not give up their affection for him. And the tribe of the Christians, who are named after him, have not disappeared to this day.”
There are others that hint at the existence of Jesus, though they don’t name him so I won’t list them here.

Demosthenes's avatar

Yes, I do think Jesus existed and I think people who claim that he didn’t are going to find themselves on the losing side of the argument. That’s to say nothing of the claims made about him. But I think it’s clear he was a real person. So was Muhammad, so was the Buddha. Believe what you want about them, but these people were real.

Pinguidchance's avatar

How could some say they know his father, other than through him?

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Yes, I suppose he was either a prophet or some kind of spiritual leader/ philosopher. Certainly no miracle maker just a charismatic, energetic, communication expert who attracted the masses with his lectures and annoyed the hell out of his haters. The most successful promo campaign of all times.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Pinguidchance I don’t understand the question.

Qav's avatar

Yes, He existed.
More importantly, He exists.

kritiper's avatar

Jesus Christ! Phone home!

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