Fiction of History?

144 posts / 0 new
Last post
jonthecatholic's picture
Tacitus does actually mention

Tacitus does actually mention a figure that existed where Christians get their name. Yes, look it up.

Josephus entry does have a later addition made by Christians. We're agreed on that. But what Josephus also mentions James, the brother of Jesus, "the one called Christ."

This passage is accepted as original save a few crackpot historians.

You say that no contemporary sources... Well, there goes almost everything we know about the ancient world then!

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC

"Tacitus does actually mention a figure that existed where Christians get their name. Yes, look it up"
I said he did, I also stated, truthfully that he only repeats what the Christians/converted Jews had told him of their faith. Tacitus makes no claim for that to be truth, anymore than he claims their terrible religious observances (drinking babies blood etc) were truly practised. He is merely stating what he has heard.

"Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians [Chrestianos]. Christus, the founder of the name [auctor nominis], had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator [procuratorem] Pontius Pilatus, and a pernicious superstition [exitiabilis superstitio] was checked for the moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue."

Yes he mentions where the Jewish converts get the name...but nothing Mithreans get their name from Mithras which he also mentions several times. Following your logic, then Mithras existed.

"But what Josephus also mentions James, the brother of Jesus, "the one called Christ.""
Jury is out on that one as well, you obviously rely solely on Wikepedia and the Catholic apologists handbook. The "one called Christ" is a marginal notation that may have been added in in the 3rd century, indeed according to Carriers notes it was indeed added much later. Non theist scholars also question whether James brother of Jesus is an fact anything to do with the legends as Josephus was describing the events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in Book 20.

Not evidence.As I stated earlier, you can keep making Wiki backed assertions but they will fail without some solid evidence.

"You say that no contemporary sources... Well, there goes almost everything we know about the ancient world then!" No it doesn't. Thats a switch and bait. History walks hand in hand with archeology to produce hard evidence of events and lifestyles of the ancients. Homers 'Troy" was proven to exist as a city whose descendants founded Rome. Although the stories surrounding both events are fanciful the actual bricks and mortar are there for the bones of the story to be proved.

In contrast nothing exists of your Yeshua bin Josef, son of Miriam. I would love some historical/archeological evidence of his actual existence because then we can get on with the truly important business of debunking his divinity. Won't that be a great day.

Sheldon's picture
"That's entirely irrelevant

"That's entirely irrelevant to the validity of the claims in the bible."

- Hahahaha. That's because it is entirely irrelevant.
As far as tautologies go that's pure genius, but at least we can agree your thread is entirely superfluous to the validity of religious biblical claims in the NT. In which case I am left wondering why you care whether Jesus was a real person or not? So this thread is irrelevant as the question of historicity is moot if you can't evidence the more important second question of claimed divinity.

"Tacitus mentions him. Josephus mentions him twice. "

So what? These were third hand accounts decades after he was supposed to have died, and one of which is widely regarded to have been at least partially falsified, and neither tells us anything about the religious claims. So if you want to claim he was a real person on such tenuous evidence fill your boots, but again we know your motive here has nothing to do with historical accuracy.

" Matthew, Mark, Luke and John mention him"

Nope, those names were made up, and assigned to those accounts centuries later, did you not know this?
"Paul mentions him"

So what, he never met him, ever?
"So if the Gospel writers did not intend to write historical accounts, what were they intending to write?"

Argumentum ad ignorantiam, are you really asking me to guess what motivated unknown authors to make claims centuries ago?

jonthecatholic's picture
You're forcing the argument

You're forcing the argument to do something it wasn't made to do. The argument doesn't say, "Jesus was God or divine." It simply does not. All the argument says is that the gospel accounts are written as historical documents. Some things may be true, some may be false. I also agree with you that the more important question is Jesus divinity. But for this thread, I choose not to tackle that topic. I chose to show slowly that these accounts were in fact, written as historical accounts.

Well, I'm at a loss of words for your dismissal of everything historians have put together. It seems to me all you'll accept are first hand accounts for anything. There goes all of Tacitus and all of Josephus and almost everything we know from antiquity.

But then you're also quick to dismiss all four gospels because they were written centuries later. This claim of yours does not have any backing by historians. Maybe some pseudo historians. But the more popular dating of the gospels dates to just a few decades after the events they record. Even John, the latest Gospel to be written, was given a "publication" date of late first century to early second history.

"Argumentum ad ignorantiam, are you really asking me to guess what motivated unknown authors to make claims centuries ago?"

- You're going to have to account for the existence of these documents if you're going to reject them outright. I don't mind if you don't believe the stories. But to say they're unreliable without giving any reason to do so would be irresponsible and intellectually dishonest.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
@ JoC

@ JoC
There you go again we have already explored and dismissed that furphy about tacitus and Josephus.

David Killens's picture
You are being very dishonest.

You are being very dishonest. You started this thread "Wed, 02/21/2018 - 17:02", waited less than 90 minutes, then assert that no one could answer your challenge?

Nyarlathotep's picture
Terry Pratchett's Hogfather

Terry Pratchett's Hogfather has several characters named Dave.

jonthecatholic's picture
^ this. This is what I’m

^ this. This is what I’m looking for. Thanks, Nyar.

This seems very limited though as only Daves have the same name. But it does seem like a plot device as the Daves have a similar role. Thanks, though.

Sheldon's picture
"Terry Pratchett's Hogfather

"Terry Pratchett's Hogfather has several characters named Dave."

Damn it, ah well back to drawing board. I was really rooting for this one as well, since the thread of evidence has produced naught but bare assertions and logical fallacies.

Sapporo's picture
The gospels say why Jesus had

The gospels say why Jesus had the name he did, and the writers evidently had no problem with others having the same name. Saying Jesus cannot be fiction for that reason would be the same as insisting that all kings have unique names.

jonthecatholic's picture
The only thing I’m saying is

The only thing I’m saying is that the gospel writers were trying to write history. They weren’t trying to write fiction. As to the historical accuracy, that’s something for a different time.

Sapporo's picture
Your position is purely a

Your position is purely a matter of faith. Do you believe that the Book of Mormon was also an earnest historical account?

jonthecatholic's picture
I’m not familiar with the

I’m not familiar with the book of mormon so I can’t comment on that. But the question I’m asking here isn’t in the accuracy of the accounts. It’s in the intent of the writer.

Does the book of mormon claim to write a historical account? If so, we then scrutinize it as such. For example, what period does the book of mormon claim to write about? And when was it written. Typically, the longer the period of time between the events and the written account, the less reliable they are.

But just to answer your question, it does look as if the Book of Mormon claims to be a historical account.

Sheldon's picture
"The only thing I’m saying is

"The only thing I’m saying is that the gospel writers were trying to write history."

You haven't demonstrated any compelling evidence for this claim, but even if you did it tells us nothing about the validity of the claims. Do you think the authors of the Koran intended to create fiction?

"They weren’t trying to write fiction."

Then they should have stuck to facts they could demonstrate tangible evidence for, instead of pedalling hokum superstition.

"As to the historical accuracy, that’s something for a different time."

No it isn't, it's the single most salient point under discussion. Who care what they intended if the what they wrote is not historically accurate? As of course many of the myths are not.

Sky Pilot's picture


The character Yeshua was supposed to have been named Immanuel, according to the prophecy. The writer made up another name before the birth.;TLB...

BTW, that's the only time that name, Emmanuel (Immanuel) is mentioned in the entire New Testament.

It's used in several places in Isaiah =;NL...

The name "Jesus" wasn't used until around 1630 A.D.

jonthecatholic's picture
Immanuel isn’t actually a

Immanuel isn’t actually a name. It’s more like a title. Like if someone says, “He will be called the greatest basketball player of all time!”

No one will actually call a person by that name. They’ll still refer to him as “Michael Jordan”.

The meaning of Immanuel is, “God is with us.”

Sky Pilot's picture


"Christ" isn't a name either and neither is "God".

People give their rug rats all kinds of weird names =

"A few parents made bold power plays for their babies, choosing Pharoah, Emperor, Dynasty, and Queenie, while some stayed grounded with Lake, Woods, and Fox or floated away with Oceana. Foodies added some flavor (Ginger, Saffron, Miso), Harry Potter fans paid homage (Severus, Albus, Minerva), and mountaineers set their sights high (Everest, Rainier, Zenith). Other moms and dads envisioned abundance (Lux, Fortune, Prosper, Heiress), virtues and values to strive for (Freedom, Truth, Wisdom), and the cosmos (Andromeda, Celestial, Gemini, Starla)."

In the Bible (Matthew 1:23) the kid's name was supposed to be "Immanuel" to fulfill Isaiah 7:14. By giving him another name before he was even born the writers showed that the story was just BS.

jonthecatholic's picture
You’re actually right about

You’re actually right about Christ not being a name. That’s actually not something Christians believe. And neither is Immanuel. It only became a name much later. It also seems very weird if Matthew intended this to be a name as his main character obviously doesn’t have the name Immanuel. Lol

Fleeing in Terror's picture
Jesus is the Greco / Roman

Jesus is the Greco / Roman version of Joshua. LOTS of people had the same name. It is ordered in Judaism to name your children after the dead to bring them forward and remember them.

Mary = Miriam, the sister of Moses. Always a popular name in the region.

Sky Pilot's picture


There was no one named "Jesus" on this planet 2,000 years ago. That name didn't exist until the 17th Century.

Nyarlathotep's picture
Steven King's IT (which I

Steven King's IT (which I recently re-read) has:

  • 2 characters named Andy
  • 2 characters named Charles
  • 2 characters named Eddie
  • 4 characters named George
  • 3 characters named Jimmy (plus a Jim)
  • 2 characters named Patrick
  • 3 characters named Richard
  • 2 characters named Sally
  • 2 characters name Steven (plus a Steve)
  • 2 characters named Tom
jonthecatholic's picture
This is great! Thanks, Nyar.

This is great! Thanks, Nyar. Anything from ancient sources now?

Nyarlathotep's picture
Don Quixote has:

Don Quixote has:

  • 2 characters named Pedro
  • 2 characters named Sancho
  • 2 characters named Antonio
  • 2 characters named Juan
Nyarlathotep's picture
The The Man in the Moone has:

The The Man in the Moone has:

  • 2 characters named John
  • 2 characters named Pedro
algebe's picture
"Jesus", "Iesus", or "Jeshua"

"Jesus", "Iesus", or "Jeshua" was also the given name of Barabbas. I think it was a fairly common name.

jonthecatholic's picture
Which Barrabas and evidence?

Which Barrabas and evidence? Whether that’s true or not, Barabas is actually very interesting as his name literally means son of the father.

Dave Matson's picture
Serious Bible scholars (there

Serious Bible scholars (there are such animals!) have made it clear that the gospels are not historical narratives. We are not dealing with authors who sat down and tried to write an historical account. Pieces of oral tradition and other assorted material were pressed into the service of the doctrines of several early Christians centers, decades after the time Jesus was supposed to have lived, each center producing a gospel that codified their own doctrines. Matthew and Luke cut, pasted, and modified a large amount of Mark's material, and Mark seems to have strung independent oral stories together to serve his own doctrinal needs. Of course, no one knows who wrote the Gospels or even if they were each written by one person or by committees. In that light, your question seems to be wrongheaded.

jonthecatholic's picture
Who are these serious Bible

Who are these serious Bible scholars you’re talking about? I sense a bias on your part in proclaiming them to be serious if they agree with your stance. I would agree with you however that just because they try to record history, it doesn’t follow that they are historically accurate. Totally agree on that. What we have here, however are four early sources from ancient writers about a man named Jesus and his life and death.

To simply wave your hand and say all of that is unreliable is hard to grasp. I can understand someone taking a step back and saying, some of this might not be true. But to say all of it is just made up and without much evidence to back it up, well, I dunno what to say.

Fleeing in Terror's picture
There are many serious Bible

There are many serious Bible scholars. It means too much to too many people for it to be otherwise.

The gospels were written about the 70's to 90's if I remember correctly, when some of the eyewitnesses were still around. The Gospels were compiled from various written and oral sources of what was remembered and important enough for people to change their lives and break with family or join into new families to follow.

Dave Matson's picture
@Mrs. Paul Owczarek,

@Mrs. Paul Owczarek,

Unfortunately, there are good reasons to think that the Gospels (the 4 canonical gospels) are not written by eyewitnesses. To begin with, both Luke and Matthew (the names church tradition gave to the unknown authors) copy freely from Mark, applying their own corrections, refinements and interpretations as though Mark were no more sacred than a newspaper account to be cut and pasted. An eyewitness would be saying "Folks, here is what happened." He wouldn't be copying his stuff from someone else. Mark, himself, shows no familiarity with Palestine and his account is more like a collection of independent beads arranged in some theologically useful order. John is off in an orbit all by himself, using his gospel to further his theological interests which are not much shared by the other Gospels.

Far from an historical narrative, even one pieced together decades later, the Gospels are more akin to four Christian centers scattered about the Mediterranean using their respective, evolved dogmas to back-fill the Jesus story. This is especially obvious in how Luke and Matthew get Mary to Bethlehem in time for Jesus' birth. In this case the two authors could not copy Mark who does not have such an account, and it seems they both searched existing scriptures and found different solutions! The point of the Jesus Seminar was to dig through these layers of crap in hopes of recovering some of the real Jesus (whom they assumed existed even though that is still debatable). So, there is a lot more to understanding the Gospels than most Christians realize.


Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.