Friday, May 1, 2015

No Evidence For Jesus. No Evidence At All.

I keep having to post this.

On Facebook, I'm active in several different groups dealing with atheism and Christianity. And being so active, I have found I have to repeatedly refute certain claims regarding extra-Biblical proof of the existence of Jesus.

At one point, I had to post this three times, to three different people, over the space of three days. I am disgusted that Creationists just do not seem to learn, and I'm tired of it. So if there are any creationists out there, I'm about to give you an ass-whipping you deserve.

Kevin Jones said, “There is more solid evidence for Jesus Christ than there is for any other historical figure.

If you really believe this, let me just get this out of the way: you're an idiot, and you're wrong.

And here is why.

First, we have no contemporary sources that mention Jesus Christ. None. Absolutely none. And no, none of the sources Christiants usually name were contemporary. "Contemporary", since you apparently cannot understand the concept, means "occurring at the same time."

Second, quite often, when they make claims about “historical evidence”, what they are actually trying to do is use the Bible as evidence for the Bible. Even if this weren't easily dismissed as a logical fallacy (go look up “circular reasoning”, folks), it still wouldn't work. Let me tell you about the Bible, folks. The Bible has been demonstratably proven beyond any possible doubt to have been changed, edited, and rewritten to suit the religious and political dogma of men who lived *centuries* after the supposed lifetime of Christ.

And when I say "changed, edited, and rewritten copies", I would like to point out that sometimes those changes, edits, and rewrites are substantial.

In addition, careful study of the Pauline epistles in the New Testament have shown that while all of the Epistles are supposedly written by Paul, at least fifteen of them (1 Peter, 2 Peter, James, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Hebrews, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philipians, Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians) were absolutely not written by Paul at all. Most of these were, in fact, written between 150 and 250 years after Paul supposedly was martyred in Rome.

The remaining Epistles (Galatians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Romans) have been thrown into doubt as to their authenticity to the point that its entirely possible that Paul didn't write any of them.

At the very least, later parties took Paul's original words and heavily edited and rewrote them. We know this through careful examination of the vocabulary and the grammar used, and their relationship to the known timeline of the life of Paul (to put it bluntly, at least two of the epistles turn out to be happening at the same time, meaning that Paul was in two places at once -- and these places are hundreds of miles from each other).

Despite the fact that Biblical literalists like to claim otherwise, we know that the Gospels were not written by the men whose names are on them (indeed, outside of the Bible, there's not a lot of evidence that these four men even existed). Mark did not write Mark, John did not write John, and so on. So who did write the Bible? We don't have the first damned clue.

We don't even have original copies. What we have are copies of copies of copies. So we really have no idea what the sources for these documents, which remember the literalists thing are historically authoritative, really are.

And this goes for the apocryphal gospels and epistles also. We don't have the originals, we don't know when they were written, and most of them aren't old enough to be contemporary.

The New Testament canon wasn't assembled until three hundred years after the alleged death of Jesus. The Bible as we know it right now didn't exist until the Fourth Century CE. The reason why the New Testament looks the way it looks is because a man named Athanasius pretty much unilaterally declared it would look like it does.

But for the sake of argument, let's look at some of the usual suspects, the people Christians often claim can be counted as “extra-Biblical evidence” for the existence of Jesus.Publius Cornelius Tacitus: Tacitus was a Roman senator and historian. He was born in 64 CE, and he didn't write "Annals" (the history that Christians like to cite as if it proves something) until 109 CE. That's a century after the fact, young man. A century. Trying to claim that Tacitus is contemporary with the supposed life of Christ is like me claiming to be contemporary of Ulysses S. Grant. After all, I was alive in the 1960s and he was alive in the 1860s, right?

In any case, Tacitus doesn't mention Jesus, he mentions "the followers of a certain man named Christus" and gives no source for his information. What he's writing about in Annals is information that he heard from a guy who heard it from a guy who heard it from a guy, a hundred years after the fact. That's hearsay, and absolutely has no value.Thallus. The problem with Thallus is that we don't actually have anything from anyone named Thallus that makes any mention of anything that could be considered close to Jesus. What we have is a 9th Century Byzantine priest named George Syncellus writing that a 3rd Century priest named Sextus Julius Africanus wrote about some unknown writer named Thallus who supposedly wrote a contemporary description of a solar eclipse at Jesus's crucifixion.

Even worse, we don't even have the document from Africanus that talks about Thallus. All we have is Syncellus claiming that Africanus says something about Thallus saying something. More hearsay. No evidence.

Now, there is note from that notorious liar, con-man, and forger Eusebius of Caesaria who claims that Josephus also wrote about this Thallus account, but that's still one guy talking about what a second guy who got it from a third guy. Even worse, at this point no historian worth his PhD would accept the word of Eusebius of Caesaria if he said the sky was blue because he's been shown to be, as I mentioned, a fraud.

Clement of Rome: Born sometime between 90 and 100 CE. Not contemporary.

Ignatius: Born sometime between 55 and 65 CE. Not contemporary.

Polycarp: Born in 69 CE. Not contemporary.

Barnabas: There's no actual evidence this person was real. Traditionally, this is the Barnabas mentioned in the Bible, and several works have been ascribed to him, but most of these works actually date to long after the man's supposed martyrdom (for which he don't have any evidence, either) some time around 80 CE. The best account we have of Barnabas is the journal of Anthemios, Archbishop of Constantia, who claimed to have been visited by Barnabas in a dream.

So yeah, the evidence we have for Barnabas even existing is a dream.

Papias: He wrote his "fragments" between 95 and 120 CE. Not contemporary.

Justin Martyr: He was born until 100 CE. A century after the supposed life of Christ. Not contemporary.

Aristides the Athenian: He suffers the same problem as Thallus. All we have of his work is Eusebius the Liar describing how Aristides said thus and so. We don't actually have copies of his work, so its all hearsay, and thus no evidence at all.

Athenagoras the Athenian: He wasn't born until 133 CE. Not contemporary.

Theophilus: Wasn't born until 165 CE. Not contemporary.

Quadratus of Athens: Also known as Quadratus the Martyr: Yet another religious figure we have no evidence actually existed other than the well-known lying word of Eusebius of Caesaria. Again, we have no copies of his works, just Eusebius telling us what the man supposedly said.

Aristo of Pella: We can put Eristo in the "Eusebius probably made him up" club, as the only mention we have of him or his work is Mr. "Lying for the Holy Mother Church is a Virtue" himself.

Melito of Sardis: We don't actually know when Melito of Sardis was born. But we do know when he died: 195 CE. Now, seeing as its highly doubtful that the man was over 200 years old when he died, its entirely reasonable to say that he, too, was not a contemporary of Jesus.

The Didache: The Didache was first mentioned by our favorite Christian con-man, Eusebius. There is absolutely no evidence for it being older than the 2nd Century, and all the evidence we do have for its origins show that it was actually written by Eusebius himself. Like most of his writings, the Didache claims to be a contemporary account (specifically, of the actions and teachings of the twelve apostles), but no credible scholar actually believes this.

The Epistle of Dignetus: This document was written by an unknown someone sometime between 130 CE and 200 CE, based on the language and other textual evidence. Thus, it is not a contemporary document.

Josephus Flavius: Josephus, the Jewish historian, was born in 37 CE. His "Antiquities" wasn't even written until 93 CE, after the first gospels got written. Therefore, even if his accounts about Jesus came from his hand, his information could only serve as hearsay. In addition, despite the best wishes of believers and the lies of Christian apologists, the account found in "Antiquities" has been definitively proven to be a forgery written by, you guessed it, Eusebius of Caesaria. So thoroughly has this passage been debunked that no credible Biblical scholar ever mentions Josephus except to use it as an example of a Christian forgery and hoax.

Pliny the Younger: Pliny was born in 62 C.E. Not contemporary. Also, his letter about the Christians only shows that he got his information from Christian believers themselves.  Lastly, the earliest versions of the manuscript do not have that account. That likely means that the account in Pliny the Younger's work was added later by Christians.

Phlegon of Tralles: Wrote his histories in 137 CE. Not contemporary.

Lucian: Born in 125 CE. Not contemporary.

Celsus: According to Origen, Celsus wrote "The True Word", his attack on Christianity, in 177 CE. We don't have any surviving copies, but the fact that Origin places it nearly 200 years after the supposed life of Christ means he's not contemporary either.

Mara bar Serapion: Dates to 73 CE. Not contemporary.

Suetonius: Seutonius has two problems. First, he was born in 69 CE and thus isn't contemporary. Second, he doesn't mention Jesus at all. He mentions a criminal named "Chrestus," which was a common name at the time ("Christ" is a title, not a name). His account is only about Jesus if you squint, tilt your head, and pretend.

So to say there is no authentic historical evidence that Jesus Christ walked the earth is simply to be utterly factual and in accordance with modern Biblical scholarship.

Thus endeth the lesson.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all the research you put into this. It's really good!