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Cairns: Jesus' Existence

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.christnet,alt.mythology,alt.religion.christian,talk.religion.misc,talk.religion.newage
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Cairns: Jesus' Existence
Date: 30 Jun 1997 18:02:33 -0700

[from private email (perm. rcvd): (Cairns)]

>what is the 'primary source data'?  some secondary/critical sources?
>which data most conclusively proves a 'probable' existence?

As primary source data, I am referring to the four canonical, as well as
the non-canonical, gospels. (The non-canonical gospels are all the ones
rejected after the Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon. Those found in the Nag
Hammadi Library Group.)

I am not counting, of course, the spurious forgery that was placed
(probably by christian monks) in Flavius Josephus. Though Josephus's work
does have value as a supporting text.

Taken as a whole, these texts give reasonable assurance that such a man
once lived, though of course the stories are inconsistent.

The next tier of evidence is what I would refer to as secondary or
supporting data. Of these I consider Celsus to be one of the most
significant. Celsus lived around 180 AD and wrote several tracts attacking
christians and their beliefs. He is said to have gone to the "Holy Land"
and investigated the life of Jesus and is said to have circulated a story
that Jesus was the bastard of a Roman soldier and Mary. His writings were
such a great threat to early christians that his books were burned later,
when the christians took over the Empire. But, they also wrote tracts
quoting directly from his writings and those tracts survive.
(Celsus also accused the christians of stealing from the pagan mysteries.)

Then there are the fragments that survive of so-called "heretics" like
Marcian and the writngs of Paul the Apostle, who taken as a whole, again,
give us reasonable assurance of his existence.

Another source in the second tier that is interesting is Eusebius, the
christian historian. Though much of his writing cannot be taken at face
value, he attempts to answer critics of the faith by recounting incidents
that are supported by non-christian sources. There is his discription of
the Emperor Domitian's interview with Jesus's grandnephews, still living in

Now one could say that all this information does not substantiate the
existence of Jesus. But I'm inclined to believe that it does.

Some tertiary sources (listed below) may be of assistance here.

"Who Was Jesus" by G.A. Wells is a book extremely critical of orthodox
christianity and is helpful for those wishing to use the New Testament
itself for refuting the claims of christian evanelizers.

"The Mythmaker: Paul an the Invention of Christianity" by Hyam Maccoby, who
considers Jesus to be a radical rabbi and member of the Pharisees.

"Man And His Gods" by Homer W. Smith, in my opinion, remains the most
critical of the early development of the Christian faith. And the most

There are others, too numerous to name, all written by serious scholars,
that take on christian mythology, but all recognizing that Jesus was indeed
an actual person.

None of this may convince you that such a person ever existed. My question
then would be what evidence *would* convince you? We accept the existence
of individuals less well documented.

None of this should be taken as a statement on my part confirming christian
theological constructs. I'm as convinced as ever that if Jesus came back
from the dead tomorrow, he wouldn't have any idea what a christian was or
what the hell they were talking about.

I can give you more source data if required.


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