Senate Dunk It Or Debunk It! Now disc: The Oak Island Money Pit

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by SuperWatto, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    Well I think we are talking about the story of Jesus as recounted in the New Testament which was obviously compiled much, much later. According to those brilliant scholars (sarcasm) who wrote the popular bestselling book "the Holy Blood and the Holy Grail" and various other authors the proposition is that the Jesus story was compiled and re-written so that it appealed to Romans, not Jews.

    Well, he did say it was controversial. :p
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Nov 15, 2012
  2. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    What do you mean, "much, much later?" The Siege of Jerusalem took place in AD 70. According to modern scholarship, the Gospel of Mark was penned in AD 70.

    Further, this all depends on the rather facile supposition that because the gospels appear first in the New Testament, they were the foundation of Christianity. In fact, there was an undeniably robust Christian faith prior to this point, and through the epistles a sizable corpus had already developed. In fact, it is in these parts of the New Testament that important doctrinal questions like the divinity of Jesus are fought out into detail, not in the comparatively oblique stylistic allusions of gospel diction. If the key features of Jesus's life was determined by these debates, they can't also have been a simple homage to Julius Caesar.
    Last edited by Jabba-wocky, Nov 15, 2012
  3. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    I don't think it's really all that fringe to say that Christianity was in part tailored to appeal to Roman and other pagans, who vastly outnumbered Jews in the Middle East and the Empire. The dropping of the kosher laws is pretty transparent, actually.

    I have a feeling I might attract dissertation-length posts.
  4. Aytee-Aytee Force Ghost

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    By using the same logic found in the "Jesus was Caesar" argument, we can definitely prove that John F. Kennedy was actually Abraham Lincoln.
  5. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

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    this theory is pretty silly because it doesnt seem to draw any direct link, only parallels

    you'd better hope OZK is too outraged to even click on this thread
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Nov 15, 2012
  6. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    Yes, Mark is reputedly the first of the Gospels and the others followed that - even if you were to accept that that the first of the Gospels was penned 70 years after Jesus died, that is still "much, much" later compared to a contemporary account. The authors to whom I am referring argue that the New Testament 'canon' was effectively compiled by Constantine at the Council of Nicea and was aimed at converting Romans to Christianity. Some argue that the texts was modified and selectively chosen to make Jesus more acceptable to Romans. The point is that if you wanted to mould a story around Caesar it could be done. I'm not saying this is what happened (in fact I don't believe it was) but it's possible.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Nov 15, 2012
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  7. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    Okay, but this goes back to my first point. Why, at a time when Christianity was still primarily a Jewish religion, and Jews were literally in the midst of an open civil war against the Romans, wold someone want to pitch the whole religion so that it was appealing to Romans?

    EDIT: I would say even that example is not as ironclad as you suggest. Fundamentally, the eruption between Christians and practitioners of the Mosaic Law was embedded in the central premise of the religion. As the author of Hebrews points out, Jesus's heritage was unanimously, specifically, and explicitly noted to be outside the priestly tribe. That makes it impossible for him to be the primary interlocutor between man and God by the logic of Jewish law. Much less have any role in the forgiveness of sins, which is probably the single most stressed point of Jesus as a religious figure out of anything. I'm not convinced that simply abandoning the law, in light of all this, was really appreciably different in effect than the radical revisions that would have been necessary to "keep" it.
    Last edited by Jabba-wocky, Nov 15, 2012
  8. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    Well apparently Constantine was the first 'Christian' Roman Emperor and he wanted Romans to convert to Christianity. Accordingly, it was in his interests to pitch the whole religion so that it was appealing to Romans. Haven't you read "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail"? It's all there. :p
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Nov 15, 2012
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  9. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Difference being, we have contemporary evidence about JFK having existed.

    Of course, it makes sense. At a time of redevelopment, we end up with a fresh approach of religion by co-opting some Roman ideas. For a savior, we end up with a local retelling of Julius Caesar. For a villain, we end up with a Satan that has some parallels in design with Roman mythology like Pan. A new flavour of religion to allow it to appeal to a new group. Like when modern religious people try to use things like Superman as a hook. And where does a prominent branch of that new flavour take for its base? Rome, the home of Julius Caesar.
  10. thesevegetables Jedi Grand Master

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    The Romans would crucify whoever believed in this thread title and the Christians would know you were going to hell.
  11. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    What Roman ideas were co-opted, exactly?
  12. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    Well again according to various scholars and authors (including those already cited) it was Constantine who introduced a range of Roman traditions and 'co-opted' them into Christianity in order to sell it to the Romans, including the Roman Sunday becoming the Christian 'Sabbath by making the traditional day of the sun god Sol Invictus (Sunday) a holy day and a day of rest for Christians. The traditional birthday of the "Sun god" i.e. 25th December, becoming the birthday of Jesus, the cross of light which was the emblem of the Pagan Sun god became the emblem of Christianity (see also the picture of the coin posted by SuperWatto in this thread) and, most important of all, Constantine introduced the concept of the "Holy Trinity" into Christianity as Romans just couldn't get their heads around this "one god" concept. The idea of a "Trinity" appealed to their sensibilities. This is how the "Roman" Catholic Church got its start.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Nov 15, 2012
  13. thesevegetables Jedi Grand Master

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    Christianity has adopted so many things, often in efforts to convert others. For example, the formerly paga decorated tree in December.
  14. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    Point of order!

    Jesus was born around 1 AD, but dies around 33 AD. If Mark was written around 70 AD, then that is only 37 years after Jesus died, not 70. That is still well within the possible lifespan of Jesus' contemporaries.
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  15. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    However, a contemporary account would be an account written during the same time frame, wouldn't it? We're still looking at an account being written ~40+ years after the events in question, since they cover his whole life. It's not as though they came out a year or two after he is said to have died, there's a noticeable gap present.
  16. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    Note that I didn't say that it was a contemporary account, but one written within the reasonable lifespan of Jesus' contemporaries.

    The difference is that an account written 70 years after Jesus' death isn't likely to have been written by someone who was actually there and remembers it as an adult. Something written 37 years after his death by one of his close followers (Mark was one of the seventy disciples personally sent out by Jesus) would have far more weight. In many ways, you can consider the latter to be a contemporary account.

    For example, would you consider Colin Powell's memoir to be a contemporary account of the invasion of Iraq? And yet, it came out this year, almost a decade after many of the events that he talked about in the book. But, because it's his first-hand account, from someone involved in the actual events, it's still a contemporary account. In the same way, Mark was involved in the events surrounding Jesus' life (and, in fact, Mark's account starts in about 30 AD, with Jesus' baptism, not his birth), and his account would therefore be contemporary.
  17. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Let's not forget the gap between the assumed dates of authorship and the earliest actual manuscripts or significant fragments of manuscripts. Our understanding of Christianity comes to us almost exclusively through the documents that survived, or were revised during, the 4th century orthodoxy battle. If elements of Caesar's divinity, or other elements from Greco-Roman pantheism, were incorporated into Nicene Christianity, it was the job of the early ecumenical councils to erase that connection from the written record.
  18. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Jesus having a beard -- his visage before late antiquity was always portrayed as beardless and youthful. The addition of the beard and all that was an adoption of existing pagan views of the chief divinity, be it Jupiter, Zeus, Serapis, or others. Both the Father and the Son became portrayed in such a way so as to identify them with the chief deity of the Greco-Roman pantheon.

    We could also look at ritual and structural aspects as well: the late antique Church, which directly led into the Catholic and Orthodox structures of the middle ages, was organized around the Roman imperial model. Each city-state would have a metropolites, the senior ones of which were known as episcopes (bishops). The bishops of the three grandest cities of antiquity--Roma, Antiocheia, and Alexandria, became the first patriarchs of the Church (to which were added the younger sees of Constantinopolis and Jerusalem, to form the pentarchy). The Diocletianic system of reorganizing provinces into larger dioeceses led to the organization of the Church along similar lines. Even the very regalia of cardinals -- the princes of the Church -- resemble those warn by the Roman priesthood.

    To crib from Horace -- when the Christians took the Empire over, the Empire took them as well.
  19. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    By this, point we are wandering rather far from the central point of discussion. I am not aware that anyone has yet disputed the general point that Christianity, like all other religions, shows some degree of influence with its major host cultures, if not some points of outright syncreticism. However, such a general acknowledgment does not make all subsequent claims of cultural diffusion equally valid.

    The specific proposal under discussion now is whether the biography of the man Jesus was specifically crafted to parallel that of Julius Caesar. I have objected on the basis of the implausibility of such a move given the state of Roman-Jewish relations and the composition of the Christian sect at the time it gained the doctrinal points that made it most distinct from Judaism. Most all the claims of revisions reflecting Roman influence date from at least one century--if not several--after this period. In focusing on the time when a formal church hierarchy grew up in the form of what would one day be the other Orthodox sects, you all ignore that existence of a vibrant, distinctive Christian community for a long period prior. Key elements such as the divinity of Jesus and the rejection of Jewish religious law can be localized to the early epistles and gospels, known to have been circulating in the first century, when relations between the Jews and Romans were toxic. The specific claim of Jesus as a metaphorical Caesar is not sustainable in light of this.

    As to the discussion about Catholicism, you are welcome to join a million voices before you, both inside and outside the religion. I do not suppose it an accident that the derogatory term "Romanist" (describing Catholics) also has a neutral meaning of student/devotee of ancient Roman society. Rather, it embodies the long ling of first internal, and later Protestant, and now also secular complaint that the Orthodox branches have been so influenced.
  20. GrandAdmiralJello Community and Lit moderator person

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    Ok, but we're not really veering at all. They're both aspects of the same thing: namely coƶpting traditional religion. Christianity had its first wave of converts (beyond Jews) among the dispossessed and the lowly, its second wave with a minority of aristocrats who found its philosophy intriguing, and its third wave among the political classes who saw advantage in conversion. It had the least traction with the majority of the traditional urban aristocracies of the Greco-Roman world, and with the majority of the countryside -- indeed, both groups lasted beyond the fall of the western Empire (Justinian had to close down the Athenian Academy due to the prevalence of pagan thought among the educated, and the western church had to deal with paganism in the countryside well into the Carolingian period).

    You don't contest that the visual language of Christianity adopted pagan symbolism, do you? The bearded Jesus thing was a late antique innovation, as I said. I don't find it much of a stretch that overlaying aspects of his life story with known elements of the imperial cult was another way to have Christianity synergize with pagan thought. I mean, there's aspects of Mithaism in late antique Christianity too, *especially* the oriental variants.

    You insist on a *distinctive Christian community* where there was no such thing. There were distinctive Christian communities, plural. Each local village might've had their own traditions intermingled in with the new religion -- for instance, some early Christians might have been indistinguishable from Isis worshippers, others might have appeared almost like what we call Messianic Jews today, etc etc. Christianity was always varied -- and continued to be so. I mean geez, why do you *think* Constantine, Justinian, various emperors and Roman church officials tried so hard to impose unity and the like? THAT is a Roman introduction into Christianity that wasn't there earlier.
  21. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    Not at all. But the specifics of the claim here still conflict with your general point. There are four specific and widely adopted gospels that describe versions of the biography of Jesus. There's not very much mention of his biography otherwise in the New Testament, but at best citation of specific facts employed in the context of the theological arguments. If, therefore, one is to argue that the biography of Jesus was a retelling of the life of Julius Caesar, it would require that one of these four major accounts demonstrate such influences. Indeed, the author of the book in question makes the same concession himself, in that he localizes all the parallels to events described in the synoptic gospels. The gospel of Mark, which was the earliest, and often taken to be a source text for later accounts, was penned at a time where such a conclusion is improbable. With the exception of Nicodemus, every other parallel noted was original to Mark, and therefore is unlikely to have been an interpolation.
  22. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    Not to drag this off-topic, but the Gospel of Mark, like the other three and gospels not included in the New Testament, is largely agreed to have not been written by an eyewitness-- certainly not Mark himself.
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  23. LostOnHoth Chosen One

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    I agree with you but I'm not sure anyone is actually arguing that the Jesus 'story' is literally a retelling of the life of Julius Caesar. I think the highest you can put it is that the life and times Jesus (including his image) and the institutions of the early Christian church were packaged in such a way to deliberately appeal to a Roman audience and so certain Roman ideas and concepts were co-opted. Whilst this process would undoubtedly have involved co-opting aspects of the Julius Caesar legend I think that is the extent of it, certainly I don't believe there is any direct parallel nor of course do I believe they were same person. I believe Jesus existed I just don't believe he was the son of god.

    On the subject of the Gospels, even biblical scholars who push the barrow for Christianity concede that they are not reliable historical records as their authorship is unclear and they have been transcribed innumerable times in different languages. The Gospels which form part of the New Testament that we all know today most likely bear little resemblance to the actual events which they purport to document. If they were accurate and reliable records there would be much less emphasis on "faith" in religious life.
    Last edited by LostOnHoth, Nov 17, 2012
  24. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    I was about to give in to Hoth and say. yeah, you're probably right, it's probably half true... you get a half dunk...

    But then I found another coin!

    [IMG]
  25. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    What are you actually saying here? This highlights my primary objection to the arguments put forward in this thread. All of them are excessively vague. Yes, one can understand how, conceptually, altering the biography of Jesus to reflect aspects of a famous Roman might make the religion more attractive for Romans. However, no one has yet been able to show even a broad "co-opting" of any sort. Why? We know the biography and the hagiographies of Julius Caesar. We have the texts of the gospels. If someone is proposing that the latter was changed to include some element of the former, even in a broad or symbolic way, they ought to be able to specify what they are talking about. Otherwise it's just a non-falsifiable notion of something that could have happened. What exactly are you trying to say? You all can't retreat from the ridiculousness claims of the original author but then offer up none in their stead.

    I would say this is somewhat immaterial to our discussion, as even the questionable version of events available doesn't really have anything to suggest allusions to Julius Caesar's biography were incorporated. Secondly, the broader New Testament purports, as much as the old, to feature an omnipotent eternal spirit being that has masterminded all of history and is marching towards a grand day of judgment for the entirety of humanity that ever has or will exist. I am fairly certain significant faith would be required regardless of the accuracy or lack thereof of the documentation about the life of Jesus.

    The "crucfixion" claim is typical of the terrible style of argument in Carotta's argument. He makes pretty central to his argument the idea that Jesus's crucifixion was "contested" as a mode of death. In fact, there are almost a half dozen books and epistles of the New Testament off the top of my head that make explicit mention of the fact. Publication dates to 50-60 AD, making them some of the earliest major Christian writings. This is besides a number of indirect references, such as the discussion of the uphill battle of trying to convince people of the importance of a man who received a criminal's execution. From the other end, his Roman sourcing is also weak. His entire account is based on the work of Appianus, who didn't start writing until the mid-second century, long after Christianity was established. He nowhere offers evidence that a cross or any similar object was an important symbol of the imperial cult (probably because, to my knowledge, it never was) and yet this is supposed to be the one iconographic detail that Christians seize on to make people think of Caesar? The thing not actually very associated with him but that has huge negative connotations within the society, to the point that early Christian leaders felt the need to lament the difficulties it caused them in writing? The only meat of his argument is in some parallels between the rituals of the Roman Catholic Church and Roman ritual. But as we've already discussed, that's something of a separate issue, and not relevant to a discussion of Jesus's biography.

    This claim has nowhere been defended on its actual merits.