14 Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach.
15 The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.
17 Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?”
One of the biggest problems of the study of religion now days, specially with our intellectual elites in scholarly circles, than rather than throwing light, and better understanding on the area of the history of Jesus, and Christianity in general, on the contrary the issue of Jesus it is even more obscure, and muddled by the division in sectarian groups with diverse, and contradicting ideas, that unfortunately are not the product of honest study, and research, but of partisan ideology.
It will be difficult to explain the current state of scholarship today, however I will do as briefly as possible, using public known summary records, without citing, do not pretend to encompass every detail, since it will be impossible on this brief account, too many names, accusations, and recriminations go back, and forth to require many volumes. Basically it is divided not between so much different Christian denominations, despite those divisions remain pretty much unchanged today, as in the past, but between traditional Christian scholars, and non traditional Atheist, Agnostics, some of them not even Bible scholars, in the Theological Divinity school fashion, but nevertheless people who contend that the whole story of Jesus, has no basis since the historical Jesus has never being proven, and the New Testament, specially the Gospels are based in Mythological allegories borrowed from different sources at the time the Gospels were written, Hellenistic, Roman, Egyptian, etc.
“Philosopher George Walsh argues that Christianity can be seen as originating in a myth dressed up as history, or with a historical being mythologized into a supernatural one: he calls the former the Christ myth theory, and the latter the historical Jesus theory.Biblical scholars Paul Eddy and Gregory Boyd break the spectrum of opinion into four positions; they call the first three the “legendary-Jesus thesis,” namely that the picture of Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke is mostly or entirely historically inaccurate.
The Return of Persephone by Frederic Leighton (1891). Robert Price writes that a central plank of the Jesus myth theory is that Jesus is one of a number of dying-and-rising gods.
The Jesus myth theory: the gospels describe a virtually, and perhaps entirely, fictitious person. There are no grounds for supposing that any aspect of the Jesus narrative is rooted in history. This view is represented to varying degrees by Bruno Bauer, Arthur Drews, G.A. Wells, and Robert Price. Mythicists do not agree on a single theory of the actual origins of Christianity.
There is enough evidence to conclude that Jesus existed, but the reports are so unreliable that very little can be said about him with confidence. This view is represented by Rudolf Bultmann and Burton Mack.
Historical research can reveal a core of historical facts about Jesus, but he is very different from the Jesus of the New Testament. His sayings and miracles are myths. Robert Funk and Crossan represent this view, one that Eddy and Boyd write is increasingly common among New Testament scholars, particularly those associated with the Westar Institute’s Jesus Seminar and Jewish New Testament scholars such as Paula Fredriksen or Amy Jill-Levine.
Within this camp there remains a significant gulf between those who hold Schweitzer’s view that Jesus had apocalyptic end-time beliefs such as Bart Ehrman and Paula Fredriksen, and those who do not hold this such as Marcus Borg.
The gospels are reliable historical sources, and critical historiography should not rule out the possibility of supernatural occurrence, a view represented by John P. Meier and N.T. Wright.
Three pillars of the theory
New Testament scholar Robert Price, who argues it is quite likely there never was a historical Jesus, writes that the Jesus myth theory is based on three pillars:
There is no mention of a miracle-working Jesus in secular sources.
The Pauline epistles, earlier than the gospels, do not provide evidence of a recent historical Jesus.
The story of Jesus shows strong parallels to Middle Eastern religions about dying and rising gods, symbolizing the rebirth of the individual as a rite of passage. He writes that Christian apologists have tried to minimize these parallels.
The composition of the letters of Paul of Tarsus is generally dated between 49 and 64 CE,some two to three decades after the conventional date given for Jesus’s death. Paul did not know the historical Jesus. He only claims he had known him, ‘as of one born out of due time’, i.e., as the ‘risen’ Jesus.
Many biblical scholars turn to Paul’s letters (epistles) to support their arguments for a historical Jesus.Theologian James D.G. Dunn argues that Robert Price ignores what everyone else in the field regards as primary data. Biblical scholar F. F. Bruce (1910–1990) writes that, according to Paul’s letters, Jesus was an Israelite, descended from Abraham (Gal 3:16) and David (Rom. 1:3); who lived under Jewish law (Gal. 4:4); who was betrayed, and on the night of his betrayal instituted a memorial meal of bread and wine (I Cor. 11:23ff); who endured the Roman penalty of crucifixion (I Cor. 1:23; Gal. 3:1, 13, 6:14, etc.), although Jewish authorities were somehow involved in his death (I Thess. 2:15); who was buried, rose the third day and was thereafter seen alive, including on one occasion by over 500, of whom the majority were alive 25 years later (I Cor. 15:4ff). The letters say that Paul knew of and had met important figures in Jesus’s ministry, including the apostles Peter and John, as well as James the brother of Jesus, who is also allegedly mentioned in Josephus. In the letters, Paul on occasion alludes to and quotes the teachings of Jesus, and in 1 Corinthians 11 recounts the Last Supper.”
In an article on the Huffington Post’s Web site, Bart Ehrman insists:
“Apart from the most rabid fundamentalists among us, nearly everyone admits that the Bible might contain errors—a faulty creation story here, a historical mistake there, a contradiction or two in some other place. But is it possible that the problem is worse than that—that the Bible actually contains lies?
Most people wouldn’t put it that way, since the Bible is, after all, sacred Scripture for millions on our planet. But good Christian scholars of the Bible, including the top Protestant and Catholic scholars of America, will tell you that the Bible is full of lies, even if they refuse to use the term. And here is the truth: Many of the books of the New Testament were written by people who lied about their identity, claiming to be a famous apostle—Peter, Paul or James—knowing full well they were someone else. In modern parlance, that is a lie, and a book written by someone who lies about his identity is a forgery (2011b).
Why is this alleged consensus of scholarship not forthcoming about the “truth” of these lies, mistakes, and contradictions? According to Ehrman, many scholars are ministers and professors who have to serve the needs of their clientele (see Ehrman, 2009, pp. 13-14). Ministers don’t want to be honest because either it conflicts with their personal faith, or they fear being fired by their elderships. Professors really do know the truth, Ehrman claims, but they cannot be honest about it, because they largely teach in colleges, seminaries, and divinity schools. They cannot denigrate the very texts they are teaching to Christian students without suffering repercussions from their constituency. Simply put, Ehrman implies Christian scholars are dishonest, if not duplicitous, and have engineered a conspiracy to keep the populace from learning the “truth.” Conspiracy theories like this have no place in any serious discussion of these issues.”
However Ehrman suggest, and personally do not find far fetch, that the business of studying Jesus, for this scholars it is no different than that of a worker of a particular brand of manufacture, who it is forced to be loyal to the company name, regardless if in private would prefer to choose his own choice of soap, car, shoes, bottled drink, etc..
It is not necessary to say Bart Ehrman become a pariah in scholarly circles after this outburst!
In other words, are you accusing me of toeing the party line and saying what they wish me to say, and therefor you doubt the integrity of my public opinions?
When you belong to a church religious denomination, and you get butter for your bread from, but privately can hold an agnostic position, or even an atheist one. Or play both sides, holding Faith but pretending not to with other scholars of a different ilk!
Not that there is any crime on it, in this world with a increasingly Secular majority, but still is intellectually dishonest to pretend otherwise, it is plainly speaking spiritual bankruptcy.
Neither I believe Theology, and the study of scriptures should be the exclusive domain of the believer, since you can study Theology just to prove it is nonsense, or the study of scriptures that can be fascinating, from an anthropological, and archeological historical point. But who are we kidding, if you are getting paid by your church institution, it is threading a fine line between the two sides I find objectionable, and morally troublesome, you cease to believe, why to keep on pretending otherwise?
But what I find excusable perhaps, but hypocritical to say the least, is the ambivalence of it, because you become disappointed with your previous beliefs, and you find yourselves middle aged, maybe old, and cynical, and invested too much effort, and years in to it, and now you lack the courage of proclaiming your new beliefs, the dishearten realization your life has being a waste of your time…or the opposite, saying you agree with the skeptics, but then decided, it is better to lie low, avoid the flak and keep your faith to yourself. Does not this two positions are clearly ambivalent, and dishonest? Or in the better cases a compromise?
At least the position of the mythicist is clear, if not their end result thesis, but those who vouch for the historical Jesus, who instead of having a living spirit in their heart, cling to official agendas regardless of their private beliefs, and keep arguing who was, or was not, the man who was the inspiration of the legendary story of Jesus…well it is sad, and dishonest.
“15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelations
Have you guys seen the outpour of movies about King Arthur, Camelot, Excalibur, where the new theme is to explain to our common late Twenty, and early Twenty-One century rationality how a man no different than any of us, but gifted with courage battled invaders, barbarians, thieves, etc. And somehow for the lack of accurate historical records of the times it rose in to a legend, and a few historians, or pseudo historians misguidedly search for proofs of a similar character during that age, with no Magicians of the likes of Merlin, or villains the likes of Morgana, and all that mythological nonsense. I wonder sometimes at the rolling of the eyes of Medieval scholars!
“The legend of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table is the most powerful and enduring in the western world. King Arthur, Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot did not really exist, but their names conjure up a romantic image of gallant knights in shining armor, elegant ladies in medieval castles, heroic quests for the Holy Grail in a world of honor and romance, and the court of Camelot at the center of a royal and mystical Britain.
The Arthurian legend has existed for over a thousand years and is just as compelling today as it was in the faraway days of its early creators – Geoffrey of Monmouth, Robert de Boron, Chrétien de Troyes, and most majestically: Sir Thomas Malory in his epic work, Le Morte d’Arthur. Countless writers, poets, and artists (not to mention film-makers and now, webmasters) have been inspired by the life and times of King Arthur.”
However if there is an argument between Medieval scholars for the historical Arthur this, it seems, does not make the noise that an historical Jesus do.
If we have no issue believing Geoffrey of Monmouth, Robert de Boron, Chrétien de Troyes, and Sir Thomas Mallory as responsible of our knowledge of the Arthurian legends, why we have such trouble with this other writers; Paul, Mark, Mathew, Luke, and John?
I frankly find this rationalistic new movies about the Arthurian legend, boring, and not near as exciting as John Boorman’s Excalibur, based on Sir Thomas Malory’s book, not only that what they portray it is not accurate historically, since we all agree to be a myth, but in their eagerness to rationalize Myth, they had lost the point of such story! Which of course is not to appeal to our objective left side brain, but to our subjective right side brain, our Hearts…
I do not have a problem with a non historical Jesus to see the greatness of the New Testament, neither I care if the position of the mythicist is true, as a matter of fact, I believe to be so in a general sense, if not in the details, or the particular twist they choose to give to the Jesus story, I agree that the Gospels are Myth, but since they come with so much bogus ideas, in their zeal to discredit belief, God, Jesus, and Religion, they lack depth, and suffer of the modern malady of lacking the use of their right brain, if only they will refrain of speculating wildly about what kind of man was Jesus:
Bandit, political agitator, Doomsday Prophet, Magician, etc. At least a not existent Jesus is an allegory, and a Symbolic entity deserving of imitation. Period!
After all Religions are not isolated phenomena, they thrive on the social historical period of the people who produce them, and they inherit myths, from older Religions and adapt them to their new understanding of their religious experience, after all we shouldn’t forget Christianity despite it’s Jewish, and Hellenistic origins, become the official Religion of Rome:
In the early 4th century, Constantine I became the first emperor to convert to Christianity, launching the era of Christian hegemony. The emperor Julian made a short-lived attempt to revive traditional and Hellenistic religion and to affirm the special status of Judaism, but in 391 under Theodosius I Christianity became the official state religion of Rome, to the exclusion of all others. Pleas for religious tolerance from traditionalists such as the senator Symmachus (d. 402) were rejected, and Christian monotheism became a feature of Imperial domination. Heretics as well as non-Christians were subject to exclusion from public life or persecution, but Rome’s original religious hierarchy and many aspects of its ritual influenced Christian forms, and many pre-Christian beliefs and practices survived in Christian festivals and local traditions.
What it is difficult for me from mythicist, to accept is their believe that the analogies of myths made their religious experience a borrowed copy, and therefor a lie , sort like declaring our constitution a phony, and unoriginal because it is based on previous English experience with constitutional representative government. Expedient perhaps, but a social common phenomenon, they obviously do not understand religious experience, and lack right brain side sensitivity to understand, and realize so.
On the other side for those who uphold dear the historical Jesus, even the existence of a man that was crucified, maybe the leader of a small group of Jewish dissenters from the orthodoxy of the Sanhedrim, and it is my understanding that they may have been many, this does not make one of them the historical Jesus, the one the Gospels of Mark, Luke, Mathew or John were talking about, who to my understanding is the allegory of the Ecce Homo the ideal man every human being should aspire to be, Christ like at the pinnacle of his life, despite the incoming crucifixion.
In my opinion the story of Jesus probably has more to do with small, syncretism Jewish religious groups, who borrowed freely from different traditions, how to explain the Wise men from the East of Mathew?
Syncretism is the combining of different (often contradictory) beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. Syncretism may involve the merger and analogizing of several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, thus asserting an underlying unity and allowing for an inclusive approach to other faiths.
The Gospel of Matthew, the only one of the four Canonical gospels to mention the Magi, states that they came “from the east” to worship the Christ, “born King of the Jews.” Although the account does not tell how many they were, the three gifts led to a widespread assumption that they were three as well. In the East, the magi traditionally number twelve.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path.
Excuse to say this gifts are highly Symbolic some speculate they belong to three different Esoteric schools, of Knowledge, represented by the Gold; Alchemy, Frankincense; Astrology, and Myrrh; Theurgy. The fact is the wise man story of Mathew taken as a mere pastoral anecdote, stick as bad as a sore thumb, in a work that is eminently allegorical, and symbolic and syncretic in nature, to deny influences beyond traditional Judaism at the time, it is well known the discontent of orthodox Jewish groups with King Herod he is described as “a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis.” He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem sometimes referred to as Herod’s Temple, and the construction of the port at Caesarea Maritima. Important details of his biography are gleaned from the works of the 1st century CE Roman-Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. Many Jewish groups like the Essenes, believed that the high priest of the Jerusalem Temple was elected on false pretenses, which invalidated the whole Temple cult. Judging by this passage, and many others, it is hard to believe the Gospels were anything but the work of a “New Age” type of Jews, probably looked with contempt, if not with total animosity by the orthodox groups. Paul the clear example of a Hellenistic Jew who basically become the pillar of Christian belief.
No Orthodox Jewish will dare to be as bold as to incorporate Hellenistic, Zoroastrian, or Egyptian symbolism in to the Gospels, it is quite shocking to read the Old Testament virulent rejection of anything foreign to Israel, and the Prophetic tradition, except for obscure passage in Genesis.
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was [is] the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, “Blessed be Abram to the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand”. And he gave him tithe from all.