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Featured Who is Jesus to Non-Christians?

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Jacob Samuelson, Apr 16, 2020.

  1. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    On the contrary, it's quite reasonable.
     
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  2. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    Yes, the actual person lived and died. A myth built up around him, though, that grew. It ultimately had rather little to do with the real person. This sort of thing happens all the time in history.
     
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  3. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

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    I like what you say here because it is something I've noticed. Many people who don't believe in Jesus are quick to say "Jesus wouldn't do this" or "Jesus wouldn't like that" or "Jesus would have accepted this".

    And I find such people particularly interesting in how emphatic they are about what a person they don't believe in would or wouldn't do. What I've come to suspect is that such people tend not to know Jesus from actually reading the gospels but know him from certain quotes they've heard or what people around them have told them about him.

    Anyone who has read the gospels knows that Jesus was not the perpetual nice guy some like to imagine him. Nor was he an acceptor of all things. He was deeply rooted in the commandments and kept to his religion quite emphatically. He had no qualms with showing anger or displeasure and he eschewed sin. If he came today he would likely reject both the conservatives and the social liberals.
     
    #103 Thanda, Apr 18, 2020
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  4. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    Absolutely. So, for example, the things they write about @Sunstone are altogether remarkable.
     
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  5. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Is that surprising? Many myths are attached to prominent historical personages (Not going into the question whether Jesus was historical or not.).
     
  6. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    You can still make judgements about what would be in or out of character for a fictional person. This is the core idea behind fan fiction.

    I know full well that Jesus wasn't portrayed as a nice guy in the Bible.

    One meme I like is the one with the painting of him with the moneychangers in the Temple with the caption "what would Jesus do? Attack bankers with a bullwhip - that's what he would do."

    If we're talling about the actual Jesus (if such a person exists), I don't think either of us are in a position to say what he'd do in a given situation.

    If we're talling about the character in the Bible, I think were3talking about somekne who expected his followers to never have political power, so questions like "who would Jesus vote cor?" are wrong-headed, IMO. Anyone who has the right to vote has more political power than Jesus believed his followers could have.

    Same with money. I've seen some financial planners claim to use "Biblical financial planning principles." If those princies are anything other than:

    • Give away everything you own except the clothes on your back and a begging bowl,
    • Trust in God to provide for you like he provides for the birds in the sky,
    • If you starve to death, welcome it, because you'll find reward in Heaven.
    ... then I see nothing of Jesus in their retirement planning approach.

    The Jesus in the Bible is portrayed as generally coherent, but often erratic and with violent episodes. This is one of the things that suggests to me that there might be a real person at the core of the myth: there are plenty of negative aspects of his character, and they create the need for Christians to jump through hoops to explain them. I feel like if Jesus was made up from whole cloth, they would have left out the problematic flaws.

    Edit: but to get back to what I meant by "hypocrisy:" I'd say that any Christian who tries wield political power to influence legislation to impose their understanding of Christianity on others is a hypocrite.
     
    #106 9-10ths_Penguin, Apr 18, 2020
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  7. Rival

    Rival Inodj har-ek Amun-Ra
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    It's not even limited to religion. People like George Washington come to mind.
     
  8. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

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    This I would disagree with this. He gave a whole parable about the importance of being wise with money.

    His main thing wasn't that you shouldn't have any earthly possession. But rather that you should not place your heart in them - seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, he says. He didn't say it is the only thing we must seek. Indeed it was his own "Father" who had told people work in order to eat in the first book of the old testament.
     
  9. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    If you're talking about the parable of the talents, then none of the money in the parable belonged to the servants. It would have been embezzlement for them to use the money they were entrusted with to make themselves more comfortable.

    It was, actually (provided we exclude the clothes on your back and a begging bowl, as I mentioned earlier).

    In the Gospels, Jesus condemns people who are comfortable and never hungry, saying that they will get no reward in Heaven, because they've already received their reward.

    He also condemns people who worry about - and therefore, presumably who save for - their future material needs, calling them "ye of little faith."

    He praises people who give away their money when they're already poor.

    Yes: the Jesus of the Gospels really does oppose wealth... and the position you're arguing is another example of the hypocrisy I mentioned earlier.
     
    #109 9-10ths_Penguin, Apr 18, 2020
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  10. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    How many times has Elvis Presley been seen alive by one or another of his fans since his death? I lost count years ago.
     
  11. izzy88

    izzy88 Active Member

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    That's not at all comparable when you get into the details, though. Individuals who claim to have seen some guy who looks like Elvis in some public place and had no interaction with him is quite different from the accounts of Jesus after the Resurrection.

    Has Elvis, since he died, ever appeared to a group of a dozen of his closest friends and family, told them "Hey guys, it's me, Elvis!" and had a meal with them and hung out for a while?

    Or has he played a concert to hundreds of people?

    Or has he appeared to a guy who just absolutely hates Elvis fans and goes around murdering them, and been like "Hey, bud, cut out the murder stuff and just chill and listen to this" and then played him "In The Ghetto" live so that the guy would then really appreciate his music and become one of the biggest Elvis fans ever?
     
  12. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Maybe... or he could have been pushed to it, or encouraged to it. I mean, the fellow was named "Yeshua"/"Salvation". For all we know, his parents could have been hoping their son was the messiah...

    Just a thought...
     
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  13. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Galilee... I wonder how many messiahs were concentrated in and around Galilee... maybe something in that community was fanning the flames of young messianic hopefuls.
     
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  14. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Don't question the process. :p:cool:
     
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  15. izzy88

    izzy88 Active Member

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    You'd probably be better off looking into the historical records, rather than just making uneducated guesses. You know what they say about speculation: it makes a spec out of you and...some guy named Lation.
     
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  16. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    It's a perfectly fair criticism... thank you. :)
     
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  17. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    Indeed. We have reliable records of the fact that Elvis existed and what he was really like, Elvis post-death appearances clear one hurdle to plausibility that Jesus post-death appearances don't.

    Right: in the Bible accounts, the resurrected "Jesus" looks so unlike Jesus that the apostles don't recognize him.
     
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  18. Thanda

    Thanda Well-Known Member

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    Jesus had different audiences that he spoke to. Many of the problems understanding Jesus teaching comes from not realising to whom he is speaking. Jesus traveled around preaching. He called some of those he taught to follow him around. It was those who needed to leave their jobs and not concern themselves with what they would eat or wear, trusting in God for all their provisions.

    Jesus praised Abraham, known to have been a reasonably wealthy man. He commended the faith of the centurion, but did not require him to stop working. He told Nicodemus that rebirth by water and the spirit was what was required for salvation. Mentioned nothing about what to do with money.

    Many powerful religious teachers have taught the importance of keeping material possessions in proper perspective. Indeed Jesus even goes so far as to say we need to hate our mother and our father. But hardly anyone, not even you I think, would think he was teaching against valuing your parents or against establishing families. The point is simply that all these things must be subordinate to our love for God. For loving God is the first and great commandment.

    The above is an example of why its important for a casual reader of the gospels not to be too emphatic about what Jesus thinks on certain subjects. Memorising a few quotes does not amount to understanding. Understanding requires research and reflection, things that non-believers tend to rarely be interested in doing.
     
  19. Messianic Israelite

    Messianic Israelite Active Member

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    Yahshua was a Jewish Rabbi who came to bring the correct interpretation of the Bible, dealing with the Jewish people. He was also the Son of Yahweh, who lived a sinless life, giving us an example that through the power of Yahweh and His Holy Spirit we can also live a sinless life and live a righteous life as defined in Deuteronomy 6:25. He died on the tree of cavalry, executed for an apparent religious crime rather than a political crime, but the scriptures say that he was delivered for death because he was envied (Mark 15:10). He was resurrected to show us that we also can receive a resurrection to eternal life through His sacrifice. He was the greatest man that ever walked this earth.
     
  20. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    I'm curious about the violent episodes - which ones? (I do agree with him being occasionally 'erratic' though - i.e. doing something that doesn't fit the frame apologetical narrative that the gospel writer was aiming for.)

    All I can think about for violence is the Temple incident (which was, basically, a symbolic economic protest with an eschatological motive, as opposed to an instance of someone taking an aggressive maddie - only the last written gospel, John, mentions a whip), that weird cursing of the fig tree scene....(I admit, its truly bizarre) which concerned a 'tree', not a person and was again eschatologically motivated (i.e. he used it as a teaching lesson) and the exorcism involving the swine.

    These episodes aren't 'violent' to me but two of them are testament to blips in character / loss of temper (the third is obviously mythical from a scholarly standpoint and even if you believe it, its supernatural and involves demonically-possessed pigs for crying out loud o_O).

    The real clinchers, though, in terms of historicity, are his bitter feuds with his family - in a very kinship-based culture, with both Jews and Romans extolling obedience to and care for parents and a strong tribal mentality, his absolutely appalling relations with his mother and brothers are just not likely to have been made up. It shows him as being all too human and flawed.

    Likewise, his baptism by John the Baptist for remission of sins - the gospel writers literally trip over themselves to try and explain this away as being anything other than what it actually was, him submitting himself to John as a subordinate (a pupil) and having his sins washed away. That didn't fit the theological narrative - so each gospel makes the extraneous details more grand with each gospel (the holy spirit is descending, John initially refuses to baptism him and says I should be baptising you instead etc. etc.), until you get to the fourth re-telling where John is all: "Jesus is the One, I must decrease, he must increase!" (yeah, yeah).

    Its very apparent that this is a case of "inconvenient facts" that the writers would rather have just dispensed with.

    And the crucifixion itself - you kinda wouldn't have wanted your Jewish messiah to die cursed on a tree ("A Man Hanged on a Tree Is Cursed" Deuteronomy 21:22) and nor would you have wanted him to die the ignominious death of a slave and seditionist if you desired to appeal to Romans.

    But considering that this time period involved some pretty militarist Messiah claimants and prophets - from Judas of Gamala who rose in rebellion over the 6 A.D. Roman census, the Egyptian prophet whom Josephus describes in Jewish War (2.261-262) as "ready to break into Jerusalem by force from that place; and if he could but once conquer the Roman garrison", the prophet Menahem (A.D. 66) who "broke open king Herod's armory, and gave arms not only to his own people, but to other robbers also" and became a "barbarously cruel, insupportable tyrant" [Jewish War 2.433-450] - he doesn't strike me as a 'violent' person in his first century context.

    Quite the opposite. He's never shown hurting another person or inciting armed aggression. As Professor Brian Pounds puts it: "we lack any first century sources that unambiguously portray Jesus in a violent manner. There is no question that the overall portrayal of Jesus in the gospels is essentially non-violent. Nowhere does Jesus take up a weapon in order to kill, as rebels did. On the contrary, he advocates nonviolence, even in the face of imperial oppression...Moreover, they align with the non-violent representation of Jesus in all other material" (The Crucifiable Jesus (2019) p.147).

    In this regard, we should consider how Jesus is portrayed in the earliest extra-synoptic material in the remainder of the New Testament. St. Paul's authentic epistles pre-date the composition of the canonical gospels by a number of decades and constitute our earliest source material for Christianity.

    In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us about the exemplary "meekness and gentleness of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:1). Paul likewise counsels how followers of Christ - imitating his 'gentleness' - must never "repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all [...] live peaceably with all" (Romans 12:17). In 1 Corinthians, he describes the conduct of people who are "wise in Christ [...] When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly" (1 Corinthians 4:12-13).

    Outside the Pauline corpus, Hebrews 12:3 informs us: "Consider him [Jesus] who endured such hostility against himself from sinners". Here Jesus is described as passively enduring hostility from 'sinners'.

    1 Peter 2:23: "Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps [...] When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly".

    Again, the first century community that gave us the first letter of Peter had no memory or notion of a 'violent' Jesus but once more a Jesus who patiently endured abuse and never retaliated. This all works to further buttress the numerous occasions in the actual gospels where Jesus is recorded as having advocated nonviolence even in the face of oppression i.e. Mark 14:48; Matt 5:9, 26:52; Matt 5:39-44= Luke 6:29-6:35.

    Jesus was definitely one of the the most pacifist-inclined messianist-prophets we know of from that era (and it was a rather turbulent backwater province of the Roman Empire, to say the least).
     
    #120 Vouthon, Apr 18, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2020
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