Who was Jesus anyway?

My christian freind recently made the case to me that if Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, then he had to be crazy. He says that this is a common argument for Christianity, or at least a common response to agnostics like me. In other words, most people are wary of calling Jesus a nutcase, but what else do you call someone who claims to be God, or at least The Son Of. I’ve never bought the idea that Jesus was just another moralist, but it never really occured to me that he was saying things that, if someone said them now, we’d all laugh at him and put him away. And if he wasn’t crazy, what else do we do with him saying he’s The Son of God and we have to follow him if we want to see heaven?

In the defense of Jesus (and who’d a thought that I would come to his aid) the dude did a lot of things which a nut-case couldn’t do. You know, miracles and stuff.

According to that book, anyway…

Yer pal,

Those miracles are duplicated every day. Modern medicine can make blind people see, deaf people hear, etc. They can even bring back the dead. CLEAR! Zap!

If that doesn’t count, what about those Evangalists on T.V.? They’re curing people everyday. You don’t even have to be there. Just put your hand on the screen. Even J.C. couldn’t do that. And hey, how about those psycho, sorry, psychic healers?

Sorry, Satan. I know you were kidding. Feel free to use this post for wrapping fish.

You are unique - Just like everyone else.

Well, Jesus never did claim to be the son of God. His followers claimed that’s what he is.

Ever heard of the Jesus Seminar? It’s a groupd of two hundred Catholic, Protestant, and non-Christian scholars from around the world. They come from diverse fields such as archaeology, anthropology, sociology, and literary analysis. They met from 1985 through 1991 to debate the historical veracity of the New Testament.

Their conclusions about Jesus are interesting: he probably only said three of the eight beatitudes; he didn’t predict that the world would end, or that he would sit in judgement with God; he didn’t call on his followers to preach the Gospel to all nations; and the conversation Jesus had with his disciples at the Last Super is probably not the one found in the Bible, even though these words constitute a large portion of the Catholic Mass.

Sorry guys, but most of what we ‘know’ about Jesus is fabrication. In particular, avoid the Gospel of ‘Psychedelic’ John, he’s just silly.

My feeling is that Jesus really was a great man, but we’ll never know how great he was because of all the people that have added to and reinterpreted his words and actions. One more thing: the Jesus Seminar concluded that Jesus probably talked little or not at all about himself. He didn’t think he was anyone special. Other people took care of making him say that.

Only humans do inhuman things.

If Jesus existed, and he probably did, then he was a son of a carpenter who had some ideas (most of them I agree with) and knew how to make himself heard. Though few agreed with im.

He was posthumously martyred to the highest degree possible.

And like Robin Hood, he can not be proven to be real, may be a conglomeration of many people together, and the Myth is more powerful than the Man.

And he didn’t have blue eyes, either.

Posthumously martyred, huh? Another miracle! Every other known martyr was martyred simultaneously with their death.


I’m not going to get into a big flamewar here, so if anybody drops the first bomb, I’m not going to respond to it. I just want to make one comment, on the Jesus Seminar.

While most of these people are made to sound like “experts” in their field (and some of them probably are), if the rest of them are like John Dominic Crossan, then they have less credibility than Rush Limbaugh.

The estimable Mr. Crossan is a former Jesuit professor who was fond of revisionism to the point where all you could be certain of concerning Holy Scripture (by the time he got through with it) could be written on a scrap of bubble gum wrapper.
The minimalist and sensationalist conclusions of the Jesus Seminar are sorely lacking in credibility amongst scholars of a more serious bent, both Catholic and Protestant. Mr. Crossan’s conclusions—that Jesus was merely temporal—ipso facto shoots down his credibility as a Catholic scholar right off the bat, as he has become involved in a heresy, a real old one, called Arianism.

Arius (250-336 AD) was a priest who came to the same conclusion about Jesus, and set off a real nasty heresy within the Church for some time. His conclusion was that Jesus was created, not divine, although he was later imbued with divine aspects by God. Crossan has pulled this old chestnut out of the scrap heap, blown the dust off it, and concluded that Jesus was created, not divine, although he was later attributed with divine aspects by his followers.

In short, Crossan has slapped a fresh coat of paint on an old heresy and is parading it around like it’s something new. This has been tried before, and it will be tried again, but it still doesn’t have any steam. The only people that Crossan, et al, are going to convince are the folks whose minds are made up already or those who are so gullible that they don’t know any better.

Well, I think there are several answers to this question: Who was Jesus as a matter of historical fact; who was Jesus as a matter of literature (a “created character,” if you will); and who was Jesus as a matter of religious faith?

Regarding the first, all we really know about Jesus as a matter of historical fact is that the evidence indicates that such a man did in fact exist and caused a stir around the time Jesus is now assumed to live. It might have been a small stir made larger after his death and it might have been a large stir to start with. That’s about all we know for certain.

As a matter of literary “fact,” we have all the deeds and words attributed to Him in the Bible. Did He really do these things and say these things? Who knows? Some believe He did and some believe He didn’t. There is precious little in the way of contemporary evidence, so all we have is conjecture. I find the conclusions of the Jesus Seminar to be suspicious precisely because they arrive at conclusions that are not warranted by the evidence (or lack thereof). The Beatitudes are a prime example – Jesus only really said three of them? How could they possibly establish that? It makes it sound like they had a reporter on the scene. The truth is that we know precious little about the “real Jesus” – about as much as we might expect to know about a person living in His time.

The divinity of Jesus Christ is an article of faith. I think it could have been “proven” then, and was proven then by His disappearance from the tomb and reappearance to the apostles after they had seen Him killed. But how could it be proven now? I don’t think the alternative is that Jesus was nuts, though; I don’t see why that follows. Jesus lived in an age of prophets, and I think it’s reasonable to grant Him at least the status of a prophet even if we don’t accept His divinity. It should be obvious, also, that if the Scriptures are taken literally, there is little room to doubt His divinity. I don’t take them literally, though.

Pickman, correct me if I’m wrong, but your problem with this “heresy” to which you refer lies not in whether it is actually true or not, but that it conflicts with Catholic doctrine? I don’t know enough about the topic to comment, but it seems to me that to prima facie dismiss something that could be factually true simply because it conflicts with ideas that are a matter of faith is poor scholarship. You refer to those you are “too gullible to know any better”–to know what? That Jesus really was divine? IMNSHO, that’s purely a matter of faith, and you can’t be derisive towards others, even other Christians, for not believing it.

Monty says:

And you say that I have never read my Bible Monty?

Matthew 26:63b-64a “The high priest said to Him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’ 'Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied.”

Luke 22:70 “They all asked, ‘Are you the Son of God?’ He replied, ‘You are right in saying I am.’”

Way back in the GGD, I said that Jesus was the King of the Jews. (Actually this may have been in the thread; Was Jesus the Messiah?) Someone replied that it was the Romans who gave Him that title, and that He actually never said He was King of the Jews.

Luke 23:3 “So Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied.” (Also Matthew 26:11)

Oh, BTW, you all know who I think Jesus is. (See above)

“Life is hard…but God is good”

Satan wrote

Kinda puts a new spin on the phrase “Devil’s Advocate”, now, doesn’t it! I guess what goes aound comes around. :wink:

Fair disclosure to start; I am a freind of the OP and it was an (offline) conversation with me that started the whole thing.

To summarize what I told him (and this is not my original idea, BTW, it’s very old) and answer some of the above questions; There is ten times the documentary evidence for jesus than for any other ancient figure. IIRC, our whole evidence for many major figures like Ceasar, Plato, etc, rests on a handful of manuscripts (perhaps someone with access to research facilities can tell us exactly how many) dated, in some cases, centuries after the persons’s death. By contrast, we have thousands of texts on Jesus, the oldest dating to 70-120 AD.

Most of these texts are Biblical, of course, and while some people assume that the Bible can never be accurate, most historians look at it as a reliable document (even if they disagree with the religious intent). And there can really be no doubt from the Bible that Jesus considered himself divine. Adam gives some quotes above. Others are “I am the Way, the Truth and The Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me,” “If you see me you have seen The Father,” and “I and The Father are One.” Futhermore, we have Peter saying “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” and Jesus not stopping him. We have Jesus forgiving other people’s sins–not sins against him (Jesus), but ALL of their sins. Think for a moment how you would react if I told you that I forgave you for the nasty things you said to your wife or husband yesterday. You’d tell me to %$@# off and mind my own business. Yet people repeatedly ask Jesus for forgiveness for things that have nothing to do with him.

All of this, of course, in a fiercely monotheistic culture where only |God can forgive sins. And if you think that Jesus was some New Age guy trying to overturn Judaism and replace it, you gotta read those Gospels again.

Furthermore, we have some non-biblical accounts (Jerome being the famous one) from the same period which do not conflict with the Bible at all. But we can say with pretty solid historical certainty that Jesus was being announced as God Made Flesh and risen from the dead within the mid-first century AD; which means people who were eyewitnesses to the event were still around. They’d be able to say something were the apostles fabricating the whole he-claimed-to-be-God part. (And certainly were there followers who didn’t think he was divine they’d have motivation.) We have no record of any such opposition.

Hence, it can be said with a pretty solid historical basis that Jesus made claims to divinity, and was being proclaimed as such at the very least within 50 years of his death (c. 30 AD), and in all probability very soon afterwards.

This does not make those claims true, of course, but it does eliminate the rather popular position of “Jesus was a good man/poet/prophet/moral teacher/proto-L. Ron Hubbard.” A person who seriously claims to be Divine–and not in some “we’re all God” sense–is either 1) a liar, 2) a loon ‘on a par with the man who says he is a poached egg’ or else 3) telling the truth.

The first two options seem unlikely, and the third distasteful. But there isn’t much else choice.

“It all started with marbles in school…”

Satan said:

Well, he had some good words about you, too:

Nice to know you’re returning the compliment! :wink:

I think Pickman’s Model had a very clear post regarding the Jesus Seminar. I probably get as frustrated by people who abuse textual criticism to eliminate any shred of potential data from the Bible as I do by literalists who go to the other extreme. As for the Arian red herring, unless we get some posts from militant Arians (as opposed to militant Aryans?? ;)), can we call that a dead issue? It was a heresy in the early church; it was shot down. Maybe they had a point; maybe they didn’t. I personally find a supernatural-but-sub-divine Jesus even more difficult to believe in than the simultaneously-God-and-man Jesus of orthodox theology (and I will grant that that concept is one Phil and David could have a lot of fun catching us in our own paradoxes with).

Adam, you are operating with a paraphrase Bible there. I do not disagree with you on this, but somebody’s going to flag it, so maybe I’d better do it first.

What Jesus said was (the Greek or Aramaic for) “You have said so.” There is a strong case to be made for what your translation gives, since such an assertion in Greco-Roman (and Jewish) courts was essentially a stipulation: “You have said so (correctly)” is the implication. But it is given by the Gospel authors as I wrote, and the usual interpretation is that Jesus was being quick- witted, since he was not by doing so making the (to the Jews blasphemous) claim but rather catching the opposition in their own trap, since he was stipulating something they had said in wording their question. By modern parallel, a D.A. cannot charge a witness with perjury simply for agreeing with him.

Polycarp: Read Furt’s post above. He gives other excellent examples of Jesus saying that He is God’s Son.

You probably think that the KJ version is a more accurate translation, right? (I used the NIV above)

Luke 22:66-71 - in the King James:
66) And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led Him into their council, saying,
67) "Art though the Christ? tells us. and He said unto them, “If I tell you, ye will not believe:
68) And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, noe let me go.
69) Hereafter shall the Son of Man sit n the right hand of the power of God.”
70) Then say they all, “Art though then the Son of God?” and He said unto them, “Ye say that I am.”
71) And they said, “What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard of His own mouth.”

This exchange clearly shows that Jesus said He was the Son of God, even without directly saying “I am the Son of God.” He knew it, and the council questioning Him knew it, as evidenced by verse 71.

Certain translations, such as the Amplified, and NAS, directly quote Jesus as saying, “Yes, I am,” when asked the question.

These passages, combined with Furt’s, show that Jesus proclaimed Himself God’s Son, on more than one occasion.


“Life is hard…but God is good”


No, Adam. It shows that you have failed to understand the point that Polycarp made. Whatever phrases Jesus uses to respond to the authorities, Jesus never says I am God.


Tom said:

Well of course not! He didn’t speak English!


Tom: You must not have read my post. Why don’t you read it again, before making a judgement. Besides, what’s the argument about anyway? Jesus IS God. There is no argument on that.

“Life is hard…but God is good”

slappy wrote:

This sounds an awful lot like the “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic” argument, mentioned in the Atheism FAQ at http://www.infidels.org/news/atheism/arguments.html#LLL .

I’m not flying fast, just orbiting low.

furt wrote:

Many manuscripts have been attributed Plato himself, meaning that he wrote them. (Meaning that those manuscripts had to have been written while Plato was still alive, of course.) I believe a couple of them even survived the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria.

Virgil’s Aeneid contains passages giving homage to Julius Caesar as one who was alive at the time the manuscript was written. Virgil died in 10 B.C.E., less than 20 years after Caesar’s assassination, and wrote the Aeneid earlier than that. I’m not an Ancient Rome expert, but I’d bet you dollars to donut-holes that other contemporaries of Julius Caesar wrote about him while he was still alive.

Nothing at all was written about Jesus, by contrast, until 40 years after his alleged death.

I’m not flying fast, just orbiting low.