• Tom Storm
    4.9k
    Now these things may not resonate with you, but these teachings appeal to many people even outside of Christianity. Furthermore, there are many parallels to Jesus's teachings and the teachings of Buddha and other religions. Many scholars argue (secular) Humanism is simply a "rebranding" of Christian ethics/Christianity.Paulm12

    I think this is fair. Not thinking of anyone in particular, but some people don't connect with ideas because of personal experiences and the merit of those ideas may be obscured by socialization. This certainly happens to me. Christianity for me is often associated with a kind of dowdy and obtuse earnestness.

    Nevertheless, all the religious teachings I have read over the years, the one I keep coming back to is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It resonates with me for some reason, probably because it makes all people our responsibility, even our enemies. The influence of Christianity is a problematic question as that influence has for centuries been enforced by the mighty and the powerful, who more or less inflicted the faith on people. For centuries (and even now in some places) one could not dissent or refuse to accept Jesus without ferocious repercussion. Christianity is not just about gentle Jesus, mild and meek, it is also the story of Empire; homicidal and rapacious.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.5k
    Many scholars argue (secular) Humanism is simply a "rebranding" of Christian ethics/Christianity.Paulm12

    And then there are those who argue Christianity is simply a kind of stew of pagan philosophy (particularly Stoicism), the pagan mystery cults and Judaism, with bits and pieces of the story of Apollonius of Tyana thrown in as a kind of seasoning.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    And then there are those who argue Christianity is simply a kind of stew of pagan philosophy (particularly Stoicism), the pagan mystery cults and Judaism, with bits and pieces of the story of Apollonius of Tyana thrown in as a kind of seasoning.Ciceronianus

    Religion is just a form of experience, or a social form
  • Moses
    190
    Christianity for me is often associated with a kind of dowdy and obtuse earnestness.Tom Storm

    I think that's actually how it should be: Dowdy and obtuse earnestness on the outside, lion on the inside. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves (oh wait, that's Leviticus) but he also basically tells us that our physical bodies don't really matter and what matters is the soul. Martyrdom is a high virtue and the true Christian needs to be ready to lay down his life in the name of Christ.

    Almost feels like the NT needs the OT to mellow it. It's funny how Christians sometimes attack the OT God for barbarism, but if you actually read the OT it's very much a guide on how to live, not how to die. Very little of it touches on the afterlife.

    IMHO Christians need to read their old books, and it would do Jews well to read the NT.
  • Paulm12
    117

    I think a good case could be made for early Christianity adapting ideas (thus a "stew") from Cynicism, Stoicism, and Judaism (Stoicism in particular because Paul's writings draw on Stoic terms and ideas). In today's time, it even includes pieces of Aristotelianism, Platonism, (a very good fit IMO) and existentialism.

    Considering how most historians date Philostratus's writing of the Life of Apollonius to around 220-225 AD, and the synoptic gospels being dated from 60-110 (with Pauline writings probably even earlier), its more likely that the story of Jesus (and perhaps its circulation among pegan audiences) influenced Apollonius than the other way around.
  • Moses
    190
    In recent times, there's been a tendency to disregard the less credible aspects of or stories about Jesus, for example. I think most Christian apologists these days would rather not address the story of the loaves and the fishies, for example, or the water into wine business.Ciceronianus

    Does this really matter though? There's dozens of miracles associated with Jesus. We can disregard the miracles.

    Jesus's teachings on salvation are actually brilliant because under Judaism salvation is achieved though deeds, so what's a very sinful Jew to do? Only Yahweh can remove one's sins, they just remain and will be tallied up against you on when one comes to account.

    Jesus very directly promises that salvation comes at least in part through faith in him. He may or may not have performed miracles. His moral teachings seem sound. He is either a very good man/God or a very bad man/false prophet. The being knew what to say.
  • Moses
    190


    "Adapting ideas from Judaism" -- 77% of your religious cannon is Judaism. It is what Christ was/is and what he was reacting against in his teachings.

    Sure you can mix it with whatever. You can mix it with Marxism if you like. I will say that if you only take the NT on its own you're not going to come away with a very nice impression of Jews, thus the need for the OT to gain a better perspective of those people. Lot of important lessons in the OT -- universally good ones especially towards the poor and disabled.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.5k
    Considering how most historians date Philostratus's writing of the Life of Apollonius to around 220-225 AD, and the synoptic gospels being dated from 60-110 (with Pauline writings probably even earlier), its more likely that the story of Jesus (and perhaps its circulation among pegan audiences) influenced Apollonius than the other way around.Paulm12

    That may be, though Philostratus claimed to base his work in part on the memoirs of Apollonius' disciple, Damis, called Scraps from the Manger. Damis supposedly knew and travelled with Apollonius. If that's true, he knew far more of Apollonius than Paul did of Jesus.

    It was a time when religion was inclusive, and different cults influenced one another. That was to change of course due to the relentlessly intolerant and exclusive religion Christianity became, but for a time we know that some inhabitants of the Roman Empire kept little statuettes of Jesus, Asclepius and other pagan gods together, honoring or at least seeking to placate them all. Christianity famously borrowed the birthday of Sol Invictus and Mithras (now known as December 25) and proclaimed it to be the day Jesus was born. Several gods were said to be born of a virgin. If we're to trust the angry comments of some of the Church Fathers, the Mithraic holy meal (sometimes depicted as including loaves or pieces of bread marked with crosses) preceded the Christian communion. The Fathers were reduced to claiming that demons, knowing the future, inspired the Mithraic ceremony to mock the coming sacrament.

    But my little comment was intended to counter the claim that Secular Humanism is simply Christianity "rebranded." In fact, the ethical tenets of Humanism, and those of Christianity, were borrowed from ancient pagan philosophy. I've always been baffled by those who maintain, wrongly, that Judeo-Christian values are the product of those two Abrahamic religions.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.5k
    Does this really matter though? There's dozens of miracles associated with Jesus. We can disregard the miracles.Moses

    We certainly can, but if we do we should ask ourselves whether we should disregard other claims made about what he did and said, or at least consider them questionable. That's not easy to do if you believe Jesus to be God and the authors of the Gospels, the Acts, etc. to be divinely inspired. How do we disregard the miracles and accept the Resurrection? If we disregard the Resurrection, why do we believe Jesus was God? Because he said wise things? Why did he say some of those living at the time he spoke would see the Kingdom of God on Earth? Are we to disregard that as well? Even that most sophistical of Christian apologists, C.S. Lewis, found those comments embarrassing.

    I'd maintain we shouldn't think he's God because, in the Gospel of John, the latest of the Gospels, he claimed that nobody comes to the Father except through him, that he was the way, the truth and the light. I'm struck by how odd it is that, as far as I'm aware, none of the other Gospels mention this remarkable statement. Did their authors forget he said this, or consider it too unimportant to mention?
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.3k

    Why people choose Christianity from the very begining?guanyun
    Who's choosing Christianity and from what beginning?

    Anyway.

    In the West, people choose Christianity --of any of its variations-- because it is the prevalent religion. In Africa, Japan and other places in the world, people chose Christanity in places where it is established since the early missionaries, who were teaching not only religion, but language and all kinds of knowledge.

    I the same way, Christian people choose --actually turn to-- Buddhism and other Eastern religions as their own.

    In either case, the reason is simple: because the religion they choose appeals --in various ways-- more to them! :smile:
  • Moses
    190
    I'd maintain we shouldn't think he's God because, in the Gospel of John, the latest of the Gospels, he claimed that nobody comes to the Father except through him, that he was the way, the truth and the light. I'm struck by how odd it is that, as far as I'm aware, none of the other Gospels mention this remarkable statement. Did their authors forget he said this, or consider it too unimportant to mention?Ciceronianus

    I could swear salvation through Jesus was mentioned in Matthew. It's mentioned in many parables. In any case, I regard what you've said as an important part of Jesus's teachings -- you must accept him as Lord and Savior to be saved. I know this sounds radical, but consider what he's reacting against: The Jewish God who purportedly judges by deeds.

    But what's a repentant sinner to do after years of sin? What's a gentile to do who hasn't heard of the moral law? Now it's never made clear whether salvation is only through faith, but it is a necessary component according to Jesus. As far as I'm aware under Judaism only God can absolve sins so sinners are in a bit of trouble if they're worried for their salvation. The Talmud has records of Jesus commenting on this very matter.

    We certainly can, but if we do we should ask ourselves whether we should disregard other claims made about what he did and said, or at least consider them questionable. That's not easy to do if you believe Jesus to be God and the authors of the Gospels, the Acts, etc. to be divinely inspired. How do we disregard the miracles and accept the Resurrection? If we disregard the Resurrection, why do we believe Jesus was God? Because he said wise things? Why did he say some of those living at the time he spoke would see the Kingdom of God on Earth? Are we to disregard that as well? Even that most sophistical of Christian apologists, C.S. Lewis, found those comments embarrassing.Ciceronianus

    All I meant to say was that we can disregard a few of the miracles and it does little to hurt the case of Jesus as the Gospels were not written by Jesus. If only one miracle happened I'm on board.

    I can't answer all of your questions about Christianity because I am not a Christian. I am just a Jew reading the NT. I see how Jesus hits on certain sore spots in Judaism. He is either a very good man or a very bad one in the form of a charismatic cult leader. I think the Gospels could have been written in a less anti-Semitic way.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    Who's choosing Christianity and from what beginning?Alkis Piskas

    The Catholic Church always appealed to an illiterate population. From beginning to today.
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.3k
    The Catholic Church always appealed to an illiterate population.Jackson
    I didn't know that. The official religion in my country (Greece) is Orthodoxy. It is the hard-core form of Christianity. The most radical and fanatic. And it certainy appeals most to the illiterate and semi-literate people. I always considered Catholicism much more "civilized" than Orthodoxy.
  • Jackson
    1.8k
    I always considered Catholicism much more "civilized" than Orthodoxy.Alkis Piskas

    The mass originally was in Latin. They knew no one but the priest class understood latin.
  • universeness
    2.8k
    I think the Gospels could have been written in a less anti-Semitic way.Moses

    Whose agenda would it suit most to create an antisemitic narrative after constantly fighting Jewish revolts since the days of the Maccabees? The Romans perhaps? The pontiff maximus (the pope) was a title used by all Roman emperors!
    Do you give any credence to the proposal that Roman scribes or those under Roman control (such as Josephus, the Herods, the Egyptian Alexander family) are the sources of the gospels.
    Even the word 'gospel' translates to 'good news of victory.'
  • Moses
    190
    Do you give any credence to the proposal that Roman scribes or those under Roman control (such as Josephus, the Herods, the Egyptian Alexander family) are the sources of the gospels.universeness


    Possibly? I'm not a historian or Christian. I'm just digging into the NT after reading the OT. My approach is more philosophical/theological rather than historical. I don't know the history behind these documents I'm just reading them for the first time.
  • universeness
    2.8k

    If you have the notion, I would recommend 'Caesar's Messiah,' by Joseph Atwill and 'Creating Christ,' by James Valliant and Warren Fahy. These two books are very good counters to the old and new testaments. I think it's important to get as good an overview of both camps as you can and you have the time and the motivation.
  • Moses
    190
    Thanks for the recommendations.

    These books look like they're great counters/additions to the New Testament. Christians will often read in Christ references in the OT but Jews have done without this for thousands of years. The OT is a brilliant book even if only for the moral insight, and for such a thing to be written in antiquity is quite a feat. We take much of this knowledge for granted today.
  • Tom Storm
    4.9k
    If you have the notion, I would recommend 'Caesar's Messiah,' by Joseph Atwilluniverseness

    It's worth noting that we should be cautious of books which present tendentious accounts of early Christianity. The area is fraught with polemical half-truths, with an eye on best seller status. Some atheist scholars of Christianity, like Bart Ehrman, consider Atwill to be dubious. The funny thing about these kinds of books is that they are sometimes like secular counterparts to the conspiracy theories of theists. I say this only because we don't want to debunk one dodgy book (The Bible) with another...
  • Paulm12
    117

    "Adapting ideas from Judaism" -- 77% of your religious cannon is Judaism. It is what Christ was/is and what he was reacting against in his teachings
    Ahh yes, I realize I was being too loose with words in this case. Even Jesus is quoted as saying “Do not think that I have come to abolish Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17). Saying Christianity "adopted" Ideas from Judaism is misleading. Some christians may say it "completes" it (I'd argue this is more rhetoric, but I understand the point), but it certainly doesn't nullify it in the traditional sense despite amending prevailing interpretations at the time.

    In fact, the ethical tenets of Humanism, and those of Christianity, were borrowed from ancient pagan philosophy. I've always been baffled by those who maintain, wrongly, that Judeo-Christian values are the product of those two Abrahamic religions.Ciceronianus
    I think its fair to say Judeo-Christain values are a product (of the tradition) of the two Abrahamic religions. After all, these particular values are written down in the religious texts in Judaism and Christianity that have clearly and directly influenced the ethical tenants of the west. Bringing it back to the original topic, you can also argue that Judeo-Christain traditions/values themselves are "borrowed" from ancient pagan philosophy. But I think this is a very difficult claim to support-how can you establish whether Jesus, NT or OT writers directly engaged with pagan philosophy, other than similarities in content (especially since the writers of the synoptic gospels were anonymous)?

    Who knows, during Jesus's life before he started his public ministry he may have gone and studied pagan philosophy (once again, I'd argue this would be pure speculation, but perhaps a good case could be made for it). But in my opinion even if this was established wouldn't mean that Judeo-Christian values are somehow not a product of the Abrahamic religions. To me, this would establish them in a lineage of ideas similar to how Hagal influenced Kant who influenced Kierkegaard.
  • universeness
    2.8k

    Your note of caution is a fair one for all literature that is thesis-based. As you suggest, irrefutable evidence on the historical existence of the biblical Jesus Christ does not exist, either way. Dr Richard Carrier is much more insulting towards Atwill and Valliant compared to Ehrman. Carrier also suggests that Christ is a made-up character but for different reasons than Atwill and Valliant. Dr Robert Price disagreed with Atwill for 10 years but now fully agrees with him.
    Atwill is also supported by Dr Rod Blackhirst, Dr Robert Eisenman, Dr Harold Ellens, Dr Jan Koster.
    These are all very learned people in the field of theology.
    I am sure @Moses like yourself Tom is quite capable of making up his/her own mind, after reading the books. Carrier admits he has not read Atwill's book. I personally think that Carrier is the jealous one,
    with an eye on best seller status.Tom Storm
    I personally found Atwill's thesis very compelling and it contains many points which are validated by other evidence. For example, the name Mary means 'rebellious woman,' so Atwill's suggestion that Roman soldiers used the name as a general one towards any female member of the Sicari Jews who rebelled against Rome is very reasonable. His suggestion that Judas Iscariot is a made-up character, taken from the name Sicari is also reasonable as is his overall suggestion that the gospels are a parody of the rebellious Jews (hence the built-in antisemitism) and the gospels are pure satire.
    I have found that theists have a very hard time dealing with the many many points he raises in his book when I bring them up.
  • Tom Storm
    4.9k
    Sure, it doesn't much matter to me, but I think there may have been an itinerant preacher or two who inspired the stories. There are reasons for this I forget now, and a lot of secular scholars agree. As you know, there's no reason to think the gospel stories happened, for many reasons, and no one knows who wrote them and they appeared decades after JC was supposedly killed. But getting into the minutia of who did what, when and why is beyond tedious - it's like debating the merits of Adam Sandler movies while listening to Celine Dion singing The Power of Love on repeat.

    Not all Christians are banal, concrete minded literalists - many see the Bible as a series of allegories. Almost all the Jewish and Christian friends I have had - including priests, sisters and rabbis (sounds like a song by Leonard Cohen) have viewed the stories as a means to focus a spiritual life, but ususally not as actual events. I lack a sensus divinitatis, so I'm buggered if I can work out how this is done.
  • universeness
    2.8k

    I appreciate your declaration of fatigue at the endless points, counterpoints made by both sides and I acknowledge the 'adjustments' that some (priests, sisters, rabbis, etc, who would have probably been fundamentalist theists in the past,) have made to tone down all of the religious dogma and the traditional threats towards apostates. But they have been forced to, in my opinion, due to the strength and reason behind the anti-theist/anti-religious doctrine, arguments.
    I understand your frustration with ad Infinitum arguments about every aspect of theism down to the level of minutia but I think you should, despite all that, care deeply about this stuff.
    I despair when you type
    it doesn't much matter to meTom Storm

    It should matter to you or you help dilute the 10,000 years of tears our species has gone through to combat the evil aspects of theism or more accurately, how the nefarious has used the god posit to subdue and control the many for the sake of the status, wealth and power of the few.
    You know it's still happening today!
    We all have a responsibility here!
  • Tom Storm
    4.9k
    You know it's still happening today!
    We all have a responsibility here!
    universeness

    No doubt.

    The 'doesn't much matter comment' referred to the question of Jesus; real or fiction.
  • universeness
    2.8k

    Ok :up:
    Btw, I love the music of Leonard Cohen. I also find Adam Sandler a bad actor and as funny as toothache. :halo:
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.3k

    I know. The official language of the Catholic Church is Latin. In the Orthodox Church on the other hand we find Greek, Arabic, Russian, Georgian, Romanian, Serbian and Hebrew languages! One can easily undestand the inconsistency in the teachings among all these people and places.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.5k
    But I think this is a very difficult claim to support-how can you establish whether Jesus, NT or OT writers directly engaged with pagan philosophy, other than similarities in content (especially since the writers of the synoptic gospels were anonymous)?Paulm12

    Well, we certainly know that Greek culture greatly influenced the Jews, and indeed that Judaism became less exclusively Jewish after the Babylonian Exile. The book of the OT which probably is most appropriately considered philosophical, Ecclesiastes, is thought to have been written after the exile, sometime during the period from the 5th to the 2nd centuries B.C.E., and have been influenced by Persian and Greek thought. Hellenism impacted Jewish culture from at the latest the time of Alexander. Philo, of course, was profoundly influenced by Greek philosophy.

    I think Paul was far more influential in the development of Christianity than Jesus, and Paul was quite aware of pagan philosophy. Whoever wrote the Gospel of John certainly was as well, borrowing the concept of the Logos.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.5k
    I could swear salvation through Jesus was mentioned in Matthew.Moses

    He's identified as the messiah, and called the Son of God, but the messiah wasn't necessarily God, and there were quite a few sons of gods in antiquity. I don't think he was ever claimed to call himself God except in John
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