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The Jesus Legend 4: A Conspiracy of Silence?

04/24/2011

The authors are arguing here that the silence that many scholars say exists about Jesus is not really silence. They go over pretty much all the secular sources that exist attesting to Jesus and his existence, and they emphasize over and over that the people do not argue that the miracles did not happen, but that Jesus was not the messiah. They believe this is evidence that Jesus did actually perform miracles.

Its a great overview of sources, and I’ve never seen Josephus written about as in depth as this before. Not sure how reasonable it is to make the conclusions that they make. There is evidence that may be in line with what supposedly happened in the Gospels, but it can be fairly ambiguous. Also Christians may have jumped in and forged further copies, and once again, I lack the historical method to be able to judge whether Christian interpolators were the cause of some writings.

It’s also hard to decide what to conclude about the texts that do come up. Sure, many people believed that miracles happened, but I think they were used to miracles as such happening. The authors try to head this objection off by saying that the people of the time were not superstitious, but I’m not convinced.

It’s important to avoid what a lot of “denialists” do by taking any ambiguity as a chance to deny conclusions. Still, there’s too much information missing for me to judge. I’ve got to make sure that when ambiguity exists on the side that I currently am on, I don’t rush to conclusions there either.

Questions remain: compared to other historical figures, is this a lot of outside independent sources? How strong/what conclusions can be made from the sources that exist?

Kindle Notes:

Christian scholars have long noted that a number of ancient non-Christian literary sources make mention of Jesus, including Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, Thallus, Celsus, Lucian of Samosata, Mara bar Serapion, and certain Jewish rabbinic traditions (2775).

What is significant is that no one in the ancient world seems to have flatly denied that Jesus performed miracles—let (3020).

Note: Did any people deny miracles that lots of people believed? Not convinced that the people were very skeptical.

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