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After cleaning it off, you can exit and go back to your room. There are some whiteboards in the hall you can interact with, but it's not mandatory. Once back in your room, get dressed then grab Kate's book. It's under one of the many piles of random papers. With the book in hand, head to Kate's room.

Once inside, don't talk to her yet. Instead head to the left side of her room and take a photo of her pet. There are several other things in her room you can read which can help shed some more light on her character. One of importance is a card from her dad, which is valuable knowledge for later in the Episode. When ready, give her the book. While talking, you will have to make a decision about what she does. Kate is in a rough spot currently, so while talking, it's in your interest to be nice, and caring so that Kate will feel comforted.

When finally done, you can leave Kate's room and head down the hall. Dana will call you into her room, so go in there and speak with her, and you will make a decision whether or not to go to a Vortex Club party. After that conversation, you can speak to a few other people, or simply leave. Regardless of what you do, when you are done in the dorms, exit through the door at the end of the hall. Now that you are outside, there are three things you can do. First, head right towards the bench and garbage can.

You can pick up the second photo here. Interact with the garbage to place a piece of food on the bench and lure the squirrel over. Make sure you take several steps away from the bench so that the squirrel comes over. With the picture obtained, there are three people you can talk with. The first is the janitor, and the second is Taylor. If you speak with her, you can learn quite a bit about her personal life. The important thing is her mom, and once you hear about it, you can rewind time and bring it up to her to learn even more, and become closer friends with her.

Once you have spoken with these two people, head towards the exit. When you get there, you will see Warren. There are a few things you two can talk about, but one choice that is important is whether you go on a date with him to the movies. Once you are done, exit towards the school yard.

A cutscene will play as you walk through the area, and then ride the bus towards the Diner. The Diner is a fairly busy place, so before going in, let's take care of everything outside. First, before you even go inside, make sure to look up above the door to the Diner to see a whale sign. Take a picture of it, as its the third optional photo of the episode. With that in hand, you can make your way around the back of the Diner.

One path will take you towards a dog, who just barks at you, so go around the other way. There are a few people you can talk to here, some of which can offer valuable insight to the world, specially the homeless woman. After talking to them all, head towards the fence in the back behind the Diner. When you get close, you can take the fourth optional photo. With the picture taken, and everyone spoken to, head inside the Diner. Head around to the left of it first and into the washroom. There is graffiti all over, but the important one is the white graffiti on the mirror.

Take a photo of it to obtain optional photo 5. That's all the photos for this area, so head back into the diner. You can speak with a few different people here, although none of them have important dialogue. When you are ready to proceed, head to one of the final booths in the Diner and sit down. When you do, Chloe's mom will come over and talk to you for some time, then offer you breakfast. As she brings it over for you, Chloe will come into the Diner and sit down.

While sitting there, Chloe will want you to prove you have powers. You offer to guess what she has in her pockets. The first guess doesn't matter, you are supposed to fail. After you fail, she will pull out what she had in her pockets. You will need to memorize details about each item, but don't worry, we did it for you! After succeeding, she will ask for yet more proof. She will put you through another test, as you predict the next 30 seconds. You will first watch everything around you happen, then tell it back to her. The things you need to tell her are:.

After all this is done, Chloe will want to leave the Diner. When you get near the exit, your phone rings and another major decision will occur. You can either talk to Kate, which makes Chloe mad, or ignore the phone and leave. The next area is a fun old junkyard. Chloe will want you to find 5 bottles, but while doing that we are also going to grab some photos. Once free to walk around, head the old bus.

You can take a photo of it! This is optional photo 6. One of the first bottles is also found near the bus. It is sitting up on a red object, that is upon a cabinet. You need to interact with it first, then rewind time and use the crate that is to the right to reach it. The next bottle is located on the hood of a car. The car is found near the clearing, where there are a few trees and an open grassy area. If you are having trouble spotting the bottles, make sure to just keep an eye out for the white lines that surround interactive objects while walking around.

While you are near this grassy area, look around and you will see a deer. Approach it, and Max will talk about it while the deer hops away. Follow it as it goes deeper into the grassy area and you will be able to take a photo of it, netting you optional photo 7! Now that we have the picture, lets get the third bottle. This bottle is inside a small hut. You can find the hut by the train tracks that run along the back of the junkyard.

Enter the hut and you can find the bottle inside, along with several other objects you can check out and read. The fourth bottle is found near the hut, by a campfire. Banfield compared two similar-sized rural communities: St. Americans are used to a buzz of activity having as its purpose at least in part, the advancement of community welfare. For example, a single issue of the weekly newspaper published in St.

George, Utah population 4, , reports a variety of public-spirited undertakings. The Red Cross is conducting a membership drive. A local business firm has given an encyclopedia to the school district. The Chamber of Commerce is discussing the feasibility of building an all-weather road between two nearby towns. The County Farm Bureau is flying one of its members to Washington, 2, miles away, to participate in discussions of farm policy. Meetings of the Parent Teachers Associations are being held in the schools. Everyplace is like this, right? Montegrano was not and entire countries today are not either.

Of the papers published in Rome, Naples, and Potenza that occasionally reach Montegrano, few read them. These men play cards and chat. The people of Montegrano contribute nothing to the support of it, although the children come from local families. There is not enough food for the children, but no peasant or landed proprietor has ever given a young pig to the orphanage. When the collection plate is passed, many people give nothing and few give more than a half a cent. Children turn their backs on their parents as soon as they move out.

However, it is only prudent to cheat outsiders, not neighbors. Neighbors will take revenge when they get the chance. The result of these two ways of behaving was a much higher level of prosperity and happiness in St. George and spiritual and material poverty in Montegrano. One of our greatest strengths as Americans is our civic-minded cooperation in the common good, a quality sorely lacking in many parts of the world.

The Christian approach to apostasy, witchcraft, and other heresies was this: it was much better than the corresponding secular government institutions process for handling the same things. Interesting that the atheist always has to go back years to cast stones at the church. Because years ago, everybody routinely drew and quartered people. Look at the records of the English Kings and what they did to people they did not like. Scholars agree that the church, as wrong as it might have been, was ahead of its time in giving due process to the person accused. Atheists always want to make the question "Did the church of or years ago do things according to our standards today?

Fredx, It is useful to note, that the Church, which allegedly has a bit of handle on the ways of God has behaved no better than other institutions throughout history, and often, too often much worse. The claim made by clerics is that they, thanks to their books know best, and have some direct line to moral living.

If such claims were anything like true, we wouldn't need to critique the Church's behavior in the past or now. Also one way in which English Kings derived their power was via getting clerics to endorse them. They often had, and sought, and received divine warrant for their deeds.

I need not go back years to cast stones at the church. I don't have to go back at all. Below, off the top of my head, you will find several reasons why I marvel that anyone who thinks of themselves as moral, good, and caring could call themselves Catholic at all. The following list isn't exhaustive. Pro-life indeed. Here the Church's disrespect for women and their bodies created a situation of misery for countless women across Ireland. I say that if there are any nuns of the Bon Secours Sisters congregation, who ran that home in Galway between , they should be brought up on charges of manslaughter.

They ran their home, according to s records, with such grim disregard that kids in their "care" died at a rate 4 times higher than the rest of Ireland. Did I mention that? Well, it bears repeating. Related links on the Galway Disregard. Here you can find a trove of sad stories about sex abuse perpetrated by priests and abetted by a culture that cared more about the Church mission than about the people it claimed to serve.

Cover-ups, and other mendacity. Edgardo Mortara The Catholic Church kidnapped him from his parents after a house keeper had baptized him without his parents knowledge. Nifty eh? How much more pro-family can you get than kidnapping a child? Again, sustaining a growth rate for 30 years as Mormonism has done is relatively easy - for years is much harder. A few years ago, I ran across a few people in another forum claiming that Christianity didn't even exist until Constantine invented it with some help from Eusebius.

Aside from those people, I have never heard a single skeptic dismiss the claim that people converted to Christianity before it became a state religion. The very major difference between Christianity and Mormonism is that Christianity sustained that fast growth rate over a period of years. That is quite a feat. The Mormons, of course are a small population and percentage increases in a small starting population quite often are impressive, then the rate declines as the population becomes larger and larger.

That does not appear to have happened with Christianity - it sustained the impressive growth rates over a period of years. If you look at the growth rate of the Mormon church, they did do quite well for a while but for the last 20 years or so their rate of increase is declining, and is now, on a decadal basis, down to about 20 some percent and weakening. Some researchers place this number slightly higher, anyway say 3, to 5 million people. After Constantine the sustained growth of Christianity seems a bit of a cheat, given that a powerful leader adopted it, granted its leaders favor and gifts etc.

It became a good political, and economic idea to become a Christian. As Christianity grew in power after it didn't hesitate to use that newfound political power to try its own hand at persecution, heresy hunting and other forms of political bullying. You will note now that Christianity does not wield very strong political power any more in Western industrialized democracies its numbers are declining. Also, The Mormon Church has been around for quite a while. If you count from the founding of the ideas, since the s. Nearly two hundred years, of high growth. That is also impressive.

That is nearly years of strong growth. Constantine made Christianity legal in Rome. Theodosius made Christianity the state religion. Please correct me if I am wrong, was Theodosius part of Constantine's family? The leadership of Judaism did not become Christian. Many individual Jews did. I think there was a meeting of Jewish leaders at Jamnia around 90 AD that dealt with this problem of Jews converting to Christianity. Did God's plan fail? What if almost all Jews became Christian? I think the evangelism of the gentiles would have been harder. Christians would have been less motivated and gentiles would have been less attracted to a strongly Jewish religion.

Why was a Messiah sent who was not, in fact, a Messiah? Maybe God knew atheists would be asserting Jesus was made up. So He sent a Messiah that was so surprising that He could not have been made up. I am not sure what you mean. If the church had no miracles and no resurrection and no claim to the divinity of Christ then what does it have.

A dead guy that gave some nice sermons? Certainly something to discuss but nothing for the Jews or the Romans to get upset over and nothing to energize St Paul to preach like he did and nothing that anyone would die for. There is no good reason to believe that a Messiah was sent. We have stories and a percentage of the population who believe those stories. Not nearly as high a percentage as your church asserts. You've been at SN for a long time now. You should have noted by now that most of the atheists have not asserted that Jesus was made up.

A messianic cult among many is not so surprising. The issue is the claim that Yahweh exists and that Jesus was his son and that anything that follows from those assertions should be taken seriously. The Romans and the Jews were pretty superstitious themselves. Anything that might offend the gods they believed in was something they'd certainly get upset about. That's how humans work, especially in the ancient world. People get energized about things all the time that aren't real and die for the same sort of things. Of course, but the argument was being made that the non-belief of the Jews proves Christianity false.

It is not a new argument. Mohammad made it. I am simply suggesting that Jewish skepticism did work in Christianity's favor. Just like becoming Catholic was a lot easier for me than becoming Russian Orthodox because I am not Russian.

An Atheist Historian Examines the Evidence for Jesus (Part 1 of 2) : Strange Notions

A strong association with an ethnicity you don't have is a negative. You are missing the point. We are noticing that there is no plausible, non-supernatural story that explains the origins of Christianity. Yes, even if you accept that then there is still going to be a difficulty in swallowing the idea that Jesus is God. This is especially true if your prior beliefs are far away from that notion. Still the idea that something happened and it does not fit into normal categories of human events.

That is interesting. The Romans were actually pretty open to all sorts of gods. Certainly someone who just challenged people to love one another would be welcome in that world. What offended them was that Jesus claimed there was only one God and He was that God made flesh. If you say that claim was not made then the offense is gone. Same with the Jews. If Jesus' claims to be God were not actually made then what was it that offended them?

Do you study history at all? People get excited about things and maybe die for those things but we know what those things are. We generally accept they are what they say they are. Paul claimed he was excited about the resurrection of Jesus. Was he really? If so, how did he come to believe it so strongly? Did he really have an experience on the road to Damascus? If the Christian story of St Paul is not true then what is the truth? What explains the data? Nothing in the article above suggests this, and I am fairly certain that nothing in part two will support this.

He claimed to have had a vision of the risen Christ, if I remember correctly. But he doesn't say where or how it happened. We get the Damascus Road story from the author of Acts. David, you wrote: "From the believing Christian point of view, one would think a very difficult task would be to explain why God's millennia-long plan to send his Chosen People a Messiah failed so catastrophically. If so, did any "believing Christian" have a problem with the fact that the Jews in general rejected Christianity? One thing that is puzzling to me are the two catastrophes the Jews in the Holy Land faced from the Romans who practically eradicated them from that region within about a hundred years of the founding of Christianity.

I think you are partially correct on this point. Certainly it was a small minority of Jews in Palestine that converted to Christianity. However, historians have shown through a comparison of censuses taken at various times over the first three centuries that a majority of Jews that were a part of the Diaspora converted to Christianity. That was part of the reason for the rapid early rise of Christianity in the Roman empire. As noted, the Diasporan Jews constituted at least 10 percent of the total population of the empire, and perhaps as much as 15 percent. Medieval historians estimate that Jews made up only 1 percent of the population of Latin Europe in about the tenth century.

Granted, some of that percentage decline was caused by the Islamic conquest of areas having substantial Jewish populations. Nevertheless, the figures also suggest a considerable decline in the Diasporan population during that millennium, which is consistent with there having been a substantial rate of conversion. Nor was the survival of strong synagogues inconsistent with that supposition. Indeed, by peeling away all of the tepid, Hellenized Jews, conversion to Christianity would have left an increasingly orthodox, highly committed Jewish community, a community ideally constituted to sustain obdurate resistance to Christianization".

To turn that on its head, I would think that from a non-Christian point of view it would be at least somewhat difficult to explain why pre-existing beliefs about the messiah and the resurrection were so radically reinterpreted in such a short timeframe. Actually, I don't think so. The position that Jesus was an itinerant rabbi with a radical message who was crucified by the authorities his enough material to work with.

Could be, but I think that merits more discussion. I would be interested to hear Tim O'Neill's opinion on this. Based on what we know historically, is the radical nature of Jesus's teachings enough to account for the very imaginative leap that early Christians seem to have had in their understanding of messiahship and resurrection? Yeah, sort of. I guess I would like to hear more. Why did the early Christians even bother to make all of these awkward attempts to fit Jesus to pre-conceived notions about the messiah?

The crucifixion had shown him to be a total disappointment, by any objective standard. Why try to salvage him at all? As I understand it, many other charismatic prophets were crucified or otherwise totally defeated by Roman authorities, and their followers, quite reasonably, just gave up and walked away.

Moreover, not only would they have been totally disappointed by the crucifixion, they MUST have already harbored doubts about whether the guy was even sane. If it had been me, the crucifixion would have been the "aha" moment when I said, "Now it makes sense: he was just a nut-job". I don't think I would have gone to the mat to salvage such a person for posterity. See my reply above. And you're assuming i he actually said that and ii they didn't interpret it as symbolic language which it clearly is, whether he actually said it or not. I can accept the symbolic language bit.

Out of curiosity, is it your opinion as a historian that he actually said something like this? Symbolic or not, it seems like a strange way for the early Christian writers to "sell" Jesus as a messiah, based on the intended audience. Or no? Impossible to say. If he did say something like it, it's also hard to say exactly what he meant, since the gospels are clearly taking it and interpreting it post hoc in the light of his execution and their theology of sacrifice.

The orbital perspective

So did he say it? We can't tell. If he did, what was he talking about? Again, we can't know. We can perhaps guess that he knew by that stage he was unlikely to leave Jerusalem alive and was making a reference to his coming death. But that's simply a guess. It's just as likely that the whole thing was a later theological invention and he said nothing of the sort. I guess what I'm trying to get at is -- and maybe you have already answered this, but I just want to clarify -- do you see this as satisfying any sort of criteria of embarrassment?

Would it have been embarrassing for his followers to tell other Jews that he had said something like this even allowing for the fact that they may have understood it as symbolic language? In a culture steeped in symbolic language, literate in language like that in their scriptures and one that believed many things we might consider weird or even insane, I can't see anything embarrassing about it. Because sociological studies of chiliastic groups whose hopes are dramatically shattered shows that this is precisely what they do.

This goes beyond the justifications and re-interpretations we see when prophecies prove wrong, as we saw recently with the "Mayan Prophecy". Groups expecting some apocalyptic event usually don't simply shrug and say "Well, that was a total disappointment", disband and go back to their normal lives.

The core of them almost always finds a way to adjust the new reality to the previous expectations as much as they can. The classic study of this is Festinger et al When Prophecy Fails , which studied the failure of a UFO cult's expectations and the members' responses. They found that the more peripheral, less committed members did indeed drift away as we'd expect. But they also found that the more members had given up to be part of the group many had sold their homes and moved states the more likely they were to accept a highly dubious re-interpretation of the original ideas that took the lack of apocalyptic climax into account.

We see this pattern with many other millennial cults. The Jehovah's Witnesses have reinterpreted at least two failed predictions of the coming end times in this way and there are hundreds of other examples. The Jesus sect seems to fit this pattern. And they don't seem to be alone. Both the gospels and Josephus describe the execution of John the Baptist and yet Acts tells us there were not only disciples of John still baptising in his name but that they were as far afield as Greece long after his death.

So here we have another charismatic Jewish apocalyptic preacher whose followers didn't "give up and walk away". The gospels also depict, in several places, people interpreting Jesus as John the Baptist risen from the dead. So, again, the idea that an executed prophet could rise from the dead was obviously in the air. It doesn't take much work to see how the disappointed core of the Jesus sect followed this pattern and used their scripture and ideas that were current at the time about Messianic expectations and resurrection to find a way to reconcile Jesus' death with their previous expectations about him.

Yes, but in all those cases of followers and UFO nuts, the small, goofy groups may find a way to rationalize things but they almost never become fast growing groups that take get lots and lots of new converts after the obvious failures. Ever heard of the Jehovah's Witnesses? They have had several such failures and they have around 8 million adherents. This "argument from success" nonsense you keep trying to get off the ground simply won't fly. It doesn't seem all that difficult to me. I don't think at the time of Jesus that messianic expectations were at the core of Judaism.

They had arisen after the Old Testament period and were not integral to Jewish thought or worship. Forgive me for putting it this way, but I think the four Evangelists and other New Testament authors played "fast and loose" with the Old Testament to try to make Jesus appear like a major Jewish figure, but they failed to convince many Jews.

Exactly why Gentiles should have been impressed if they were by the idea that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah is a question that I can't answer. I know that what you are suggesting is that the reason Christianity was so successful and I agree that it was is that the early Christians all knew from personal experience or something close to it that the story of the Jesus of the Gospels, who worked miracles and came back from the dead, was factual.

But it seems to me that the way Christianity actually spread basically guaranteed that most of the converts were far removed from the historical Jesus and had no knowledge of Christianity aside from what Christian emissaries told them. It does raise the interesting question of how and why ANY new religion gains converts. It would be intriguing to find the growth rate numbers for Islam and Buddhism - the only other major faiths that proselytize to much extent. Growth rates are similar for all organizations. They follow a fairly familiar pattern - growth rates of a very small group are usually quite large, because going from 2 members to 4 is a percent increase, but of course you only added two people.

Same with small business growth - a small company can have very large growth rates, but those growth rates decline as it gets bigger and bigger. All of which makes Christianity very impressive, because they sustained that very large 40 percent growth rate over a period of years, which is phenomenal. OK, fine. But still, the evangelists themselves were Jews, and Paul was a Jew.

In their minds and in the minds of their fellow Jewish cult members, however few they were, there had been an extremely imaginative re-thinking of what messiah-ship was all about. Call it playing fast and loose with the Old Testament if you want. I call it a remarkably creative reimagining of their traditions. I think I have to accept what Tim O'Neill is suggesting, that creative reinterpretation is standard fare for messianic cults with shattered dreams.

Still, these guys seem to have been the all-time geniuses of reinterpretation in the face of despair. It's reasonable to ask whether they were just extremely talented and maybe a bit lucky , or whether something real happened post-crucifixion to re-orient them and inspire their creativity. I probably haven't given enough thought to the former scenario, and I think I will start to do that. One question I have as I start to think about this: if these guys were just geniuses of reinterpretation, what accounts for the relative consistency of approach across Synoptic, Johannine, and Pauline literature?

In spite of their substantial differences, they all seem to have re-imagined messiah-ship and resurrection in fairly consistent ways. They don't appear to be particularly "geniuses" in the way you're thinking. They took various prophecies from the Tanakh and did their best to fit Jesus into them. The fact that they tried to do this, rather than start from scratch, indicates that they were basically straightforward men, trying to retrofit their experiences into a framework they new.

Not particularly creative. And frankly, the fact that they did such a poor job also speaks to their difficulties. Paul seems to be the only one whose vision was sufficiently unusal that one could build a faith on it. Its also important to remember that there was a great deal of respect for history and lineage in the context of Roman culture, "Look our roots go back eons! We have history too! I would agree that many details of the gospels are, in a sense, awkward contrivances.

To take just the first example that comes to mind, we could focus on Matthew's birth narrative, with Mary and Joseph starting in Bethlehem and fleeing to Egypt to fit OT themes, only to come back to Nazareth, the hick town that the OT couldn't have cared less about. I am not talking about those details.

I am talking about the fundamental identification of the great "I AM" with a guy whose life was all about humble, self-sacrificial love and self-gift. That fundamental insight, that it is in giving of ourselves that we partake in the great "I AM", that is something that I perceive to be true. If I stop being a Christian tomorrow, I will still take that as the guiding, central principle of my life. I can see that millions of years of evolution shaped that truth within us, and I can see in my own life that I am most fully alive when I rise above my selfish desires and make a sacrament of myself.

For all the intimations of this truth in world literature, I am not aware of any myth or fable that presents this truth in such explicit, central terms. There is no where that I am aware of where power and authority and "being" are so fundamentally re-conceived. The fact that the evangelists, and Paul, were able to craft a fable with such a powerful and true and life re-orienting insight, in the wake of crucified Jesus, that strikes me as very creative.

To my mind, they crafted the best metaphor ever for pure being. If you can find me a better metaphor, especially a metaphor that seems to at least loosely map to real events, then maybe I'll agree that there was no great creativity in evidence. The pressing of the OT into the service of Christian theology doesn't actually impress me as genius.

Most times it seems a bit desperate and hamfisted. A few Jews were convinced, but not many, and they always pointed out the problems with idea that Jesus was the Messiah, his life story was at odds with OT prophetic tradition. Thus began the reinterpretation and the search for other, potential prophetic texts that would support them.

This reinterpretation didn't happen over night. The synoptics are similar owing to the use of similar sources. John CE as different as it is similar to the Synoptics. And remember these are just four stories about Jesus from among many that were floating around during the first, second and third century and these varied quite a bit.

The continuity that you see, also owes a great deal to later editorial decisions. Given the diversity of opinion among the early Christians, and the diversity of writing, it isn't at all clear to me that, "they all seem to have re-imagined messiah-ship and resurrection in fairly consistent ways. It was a collection of small communities trying to cope with an apocalypse; the documents that eventually made it into the Canon were CHOSEN for their consistency see Nicean Council.

I don't think that is correct. I will lean on the experts to duke it out, but what I understand is that all of the first century sources that scholars including non-Christian scholars think can be reliably traced to the early movement are in the cannon, and none of the later sources of questionable provenance made it into the cannon. If they were trying to homogenize, they could have done a much better job.

I don't think it is fair to say they were chosen for their consistency. They were chosen by their reliability, as the Council fsthers of that time saw it. Of course, every atheist says that they are inconsistent, so if they were chosen for consistency, they did not do a very good job. If you look at some of the stuff they threw out, it was obviously stuff that some person hundreds of years later just made up. I don't think we know that. I certainly don't know it. All I know is that the church has always said that the authors of the gospels were Jews.

Hi Tim. I am trying to quit SN and related online engagements for a while, but this particular thread is very engaging to me, so I can't resist. Do you see Paul as a run-of-the-mill post-Messianic cult member? Maybe I just need to read more about other cults, but Paul seems like an exceptionally bright guy by the standards of any age, let alone by the standards of post-Messianic cults. Anyway, whether it was a matter of human ability or something else as we know, Paul strongly disavows the former, but I'll leave it as an open question , somehow you eventually get to this idea that by participating in human self-gift, we are united with the eternal Creator.

When we participate in self-gift, we are held in the bosom of the eternal, and death therefore has no power over us. Even if that beautiful and, to me, manifestly true theological insight were not correlated to the life of Jesus and the promises of God in the Old Testament, I would find it impressive. But for the evangelists to see, in the crucifixion, the completeness of human self-gift, and to correlate that with things that Jesus did and taught e.

Of course, I don't have the same knowledge of historical context that you do, so I am interested in learning more about how these things that impress me may not actually be all that impressive. We don't know enough about these sects I'm unclear on what you mean by "cult member" - Paul was a Jew, not the member of some "cult" to make that judgement. Bright enough I suppose. Sometimes his train of thought is less than clear or consistent, but I know plenty of bright people who have that problem.

Yes he does. And we find lots of other, sometimes very similar insights and ideas to the ones we find in Paul in other Jewish writings of the time - Philo springs to mind immediately. We have too little of this material to get a clear idea of how exceptional or even how unusual Paul's ideas about Jesus were or even how many of them were even Paul's ideas. Lots of ideas that are neither clever nor unique have been popular and long-lasting. So no, that tells us very little actually. I don't know whether any explanation is necessary, because I don't know what those pre-existing beliefs were. I know what Christian apologists routinely say they were, but I have never seen any apologist support what they say by citing contemporary Jewish writings.

Have you considered eductating yourself? There's a large scholarly literature on Second Temple Judaism's apocalyptic and Messianic ideas and its dominated by Jewish scholars, as opposed to Christians let alone these Christian apologists who you seem to think are the only people who disagree with you. See above - it's not "Christian apologists" you have to deal with, it's scholars of the Judasim in this time. None of those contemporary Jewish writings posit a Messiah who dies, let alone one who rises again. So, actually, you do need to explain how these ideas would have arisen without a supposed Messiah who met an untimely death and whose followers coped with this by saying he somehow "rose".

Simply waving your hands around and saying "Well, I chose to suppose that just happened" doesn't stand up to Occam's Razor. A historical preacher who did get crucified does. Disagree with me about what? I have expressed no beliefs of my own about first-century Jewish messianism. You have made a claim about a particular kind of messianism that could not have evolved from it. I'm telling you that I've heard the same claim from certain other people, who to my knowledge have failed to substantiate it. Now you're telling me that you know of some scholars who can substantiate it.

If I can ever find out who they are, then perhaps I'll have a look at what they have to say on the subject. Judging from your comments here, you don't seem to have been trying very hard. You seem to have settled on a conclusion for largely emotional reasons and show little interest in questioning it. About this Mythicist claim that the idea of a crucified Messiah could arise out of Jewish Messianic expectations when there were no expectations of a dying Messiah, let alone a crucified one.

The Historicist position presents a highly parsimonious explanation as to how this happened - a historical Messianic claimant got crucified. You need to come up with an alternative that dispenses with the historical guy and is somehow more parsimonious than that.

Can you? If there was such an expectation, you could point to it as the origin of the idea of this crucified Jesus, without a historical guy who got crucified. But there wasn't, so you can't do that. So you need to explain how this idea arose, despite this lack of expectation. And it needs to be more parsimonious than the idea of an actual crucified historical Jesus.

They make it clear that Christian ideas about the Messiah were a clear break from earlier expectations in that their Messiah died in humiliation. Yes, of course. If anyone disagrees with you, the only possible explanation is intellectual incompetence. Or, perhaps you can produce a quotation of something I've said that reveals the emotions motivating my arguments? I think the historicist position is only piecewise parsimonious.

It assumes one thing in explaining one datum, something else when explaining another datum, and so on until all the data are accounted for. By the end of the process it's accumulated a pretty large pile of assumptions, all of which are needed to explain all the data. The question is whether any form of first-century Jewish messianism could have accommodated a crucified messiah. I don't think it is disputed that there were several ideas floating around Palestine as to what the messiah was going to do and who could have been qualified to do it.

For one example of the diversity of views, Price has argued, cogently in my judgment, that quite a few Jews of that period flatly denied that he would be a descendant of David. I make no pretense of being sufficiently familiar with the primary evidence to justify any opinion of my own as to whether any early-first-century Jews could have imagined their messiah being crucified. But Carrier says some of them could have imagined it, and he claims to have read the relevant documents, and he has produced the quotations from those documents that seem to support his position.

If your Jewish scholars have some good counterarguments, you may post them here and maybe we can continue debating this issue. Until you do that, I don't see how we can get past the point we're at right now. There's no doubt about that.


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So - yet again - you're trying to ignore an explanation based on things we do have evidence for the execution of this Jesus guy and posit a purely conjectural alternative for which we have no evidence at all. Occam's Razor cuts your argument down once more. Carrier is playing well outside of his area of expertise on this one. And it shows. Carrier doesn't have a clue. His claims are taken apart with forensic detail in a series of long articles by Thom Stark here, here and here.

Carrier's consistency over the course of the debate is not the issue. The issue is: Do the documents that Carrier quotes, considered in their entirety not just one at a time provide evidence that some first-century Jews expected the messiah to suffer and die ignominiously? If they do, then his academic credentials ["expertise"] are irrelevant. Stark still, however, confuses explanation with evidence.

I advanced two different theses in my original article: first, that it is possible; second, that we have evidence of it. Stark is right that I need to present specific evidence for a pre-Christian notion of a dying messiah among the Jews to maintain that. But I do not need that to propose it as an explanation of Christianity. That's the impression I've gotten after many years of reading historicist polemics.

I wasn't usually taking notes, though, so I don't have a list handy. If time permits, I'll see if I can put one together, but it's liable to take a while. In the meantime, if you want to declare victory on this point, go ahead. None of this is about you and me. I'm not sure how much you have read of the old testament but here are some of the prophesies regarding the coming Messiah that fit perfectly.

Here is a list of prophesies from the Old Testament showing He would be rejected by His own people. Mythologizing a real person happens all the time, and fairly quickly. We can see it happen in the modern era, when record keeping, photography and film allow us a much greater understanding of history. Imagine how much more easy story spinning must have been in the age were people couldn't just access a real time broadcast of events. But here let me rephrase your quote above in a way that might expose its flaw. Do this with any suitably miracle laden set of stories in antiquity and I bet you, Randy Gritter will not be overly troubled.

With Mohammad it is really easy to explain everything without supposing there was a miracle. Maybe he lied. Maybe he was mentally ill. I have no trouble seeing the early history of Islam unfolding with those assumptions. The post makes the argument that a non-existent Jesus would not explain a lot of the data. I am simply saying that an existent Jesus who was very unlike the Jesus in the Christian story would have the same issue. And with Christ it's real easy to explain everything without recourse to a miracle.

Same with the Buddha. Same with Joseph Smith. Many people think Paul was mentally ill. There is no reason to suppose that the gospels are terribly credible reportage. They were not penned by anyone who was present at the time and written much later than the events they purport to describe. They do not agree, sometimes on trivial matters and some times on important matters. The authors of Luke and Matthew who were not Luke and Matthew used Mark as a source for their own writings.

And John doesn't really agree with synoptics. I digress. Mendacity and mental illness, and simple error can be equally supposed of the growth of Christianity. There are no reasons to accept any of the miracle claims offered by Christian apologists. I agree with the author on this point. It seems that the idea that Jesus was complete mythology and does not represent a historical figure who started a religion, seems a bit of a stretch.

Those who think Jesus was a complete myth have crafted a good hypothesis, but one that I don't think holds up under close scrutiny. All that said, there is no reason to suspect that Jesus was anything more than an itinerant apocalyptic preacher, who was probably charismatic. He probably thought the end was coming within his generation. At some point he found himself in the crosshairs of Pilate for claims about kingship, and met a sticky end. The End. That is all history seems to allow us to say about him and even in that, I think the evidence upon which that case is based, like the case itself is somewhat slim.

You can say that. The trouble is you have to convince your self a mentally ill person could do what he did. He was one of the most influential people in the history of the world. Could a crazy man have written what he wrote. Could he have gained the confidence of the apostles in the authenticity of his visions?

I guess then you have to ask who the apostles were. Could he have planted the churches he did? Could he have persevered through the hardships and remained respectable? It seems like a rare form of insanity and the perfect form of insanity to spread the gospel. An very intelligent man becoming insanely devoted to a man he never met and decides to spread the exact same lie his disciples were spreading.

Is that plausible? I guess it could be if you don't read him. If you read St Paul you don't get that sense at all. I don't think so. If you try and understand who these people were and what was the culture they were in then simply asserting that some guy lied and some guy was crazy does not ring true. It creates more problems than it solves. Mohammad used physical intimidation.

He gained political power. That is how liars and unstable people gain power. Christians did not do that. The other side always had all the weapons. They won by gaining the respect and admiration of many people. They also made miracle claims. Were they false claims? Anyway, if you start actually thinking about these things it very quickly starts to make very little sense. If there was no church that came out of Israel then that would make a lot of sense. Why did they start worshiping this guy?

Some people who are mentally ill have managed to do amazing things. He was very influential, but as I have noted elsewhere, the growth rate of Early Christianity was no better and slightly worse than for that of the mormons. Joseph Smith was at turns a charlatan, a believer and perhaps a bit of a nut. He made some spectacular claims. We don't really have a lot of extra biblical sources for Paul's life, just the biblical reportage, so we can't really corroborate his accounts. It doesn't help that some of his letters appear to be forgeries.

Scholars are evenly divided on whether or not Colossians and Thessolonians II were pseudopedigraphic. My characterization of the Gospels as not terribly accurate or credible reportage is not "just false" or "another subject. And the article at hand will likely use them, more than the writings of Paul, to argue the case for a historical, though not supernatural Jesus. My view is actually a bit more nuanced than this characterization. I was simply trying to point out, your assertions that other faiths were guilty of these intellectual crimes and misdemeanors can be, and have been, easily turned back on you, and with the exact same credibility.

My own view is that the proselytizers of Christianity, were a mix of people, sincere, but wrong believers, crazy, but sincere, believers, and cons and charlatans. They had other advantages in their growth that gave their sect an edge over other faiths. Namely that they were a missionary faith and the competitors in the region were not missionary. And when they converted someone to Christianity, another faith lost a member, and probably several of the converts family members. In pagan circles it would be okay to worship other gods, but not so with Christianity. Not really. As I have said elsewhere, Early Christianity's growth rate is slightly lower than that for Mormons.

Are you prepared to grant any credence to the preposterous story of Joseph Smith based on the astounding success his sect has? I doubt it. This is clearly not true. Christians were, as their numbers grew were always, slowly gaining political power. And one could say that they were often using threats and intimidation to make their message more consumable. I don't know what you think that eternal torture, and damnation sound like, but to me those sure do seem like threats and intimidation.

There was also the dangled carrot though Christian heaven has never seemed anything but boring to me. They sold a package of ideas, some sweet, some terrible. They promised a fiery end of the world though through the ages they had to soften those messages as the end refused to come soon, or ever. The Jehovah's Witnesses have had 2 failed apocalypse predictions.

And yet the church continues to do well. Harold Camping still has followers. People, especially people who put a lot of stock in such concerns double down on their propositions even when they fail. People scramble to rationalize the failure. The Gospels themselves seem to reflect this grappling with the failures of the end of the world predictions that jesus probably made.

And the immediacy of the end was toned down. But your argument could just as well be made of the Mormons, why do they exist even when the details of both the origin of their founder is so pathetically easy to find and since he failed in so many other ways? Why do mormons believe any thing about the Americas stated in their holy book when absolutely the whole of anthropology, archeology and biology demonstrate the falsehood of their position?

Why did people start following Joseph Smith? Does it just not make sense unless he did work miracles, and engage in his supernatural craziness? I already know that you are going to, without self-reflection, dismiss him and Mormonism which has grown through hardship and suffering, and lacked state power to enforce the spread of their religion.

The growth of Christianity is not direct evidence of its truth. It does make some theories about Christianity harder to believe. I have no trouble seeing how a religion could grow when you have zealous adherents actively proselytizing. Just that the zeal needs to come from somewhere.

It can come from a central lie. When you suggest that then you need to ask the questions we normally ask about lies. Why were they told?

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Who had to know it was a lie? What was the character of the people involved? For Mormonism these questions are not difficult. Joseph Smith was not a trustworthy man. His own mother described him as a teller of tall tales. Nobody else really had to know it was untrue. For Christianity it is different. Jesus does not seem like a liar. Even if he was the apostles would have to know about many of his lies. Even if they all agreed they had to know that some of the miracle claims were pretty falsifiable. Names and places were given. Large numbers of witnesses were asserted. The other thing that happened is that Mormons stayed together and traveled together.

A lot of their growth came through having large families. Living together allows for changes in theology. Everyone gets their teaching from a few leaders so they have the power to change the story without leaving a lot of evidence. Christians were different. They grew fast not because of many births but despite many martyrs. They grew in many different cities and had little communication between them. Yet they all shared the same faith. This points to a faithfulness to a pre-existing source of information. I can see what he wrote, but I'm not claiming to know anything about what he did.

You assume he did everything the New Testament and church tradition says he did. I don't assume that. What is the difference between someone named Jesus not existing and someone named Jesus existing and being nothing like the guy Christians claimed he was? One asserts that everything about him is fabricated.

The other asserts that everything that matters about him is fabricated. The leap from simple preacher to divine, resurrected, miracle-worker is huge. If that leap was made then whether or not that simple preacher existed minor. You argue that there is a limit to what kind of story the 1st century Christians converts could be expected to have accepted. That is and important principle.

For many atheists any dream will do. There is no test of plausibility. We have sufficient historical evidence to say a historical preacher did exist, whereas the evidence does not point to a mythic Jesus in any way, quite the opposite. That's a significant difference. To whom? The question under discussion here is did the historical preacher exist or not, nothing more. You're now asking a totally different question and one that you are going to have great trouble answering in the affirmative using purely historical analysis.

Your problem there lies in your baseless assumption that it was a "leap" rather than a series of small hops. The evidence points to the latter. Yes it is. Because we have evidence of that series of hops and of the Jesus sect drifting from its Jewish roots as it increasing transformed into a gentile cult. We have nothing like that for the Myther idea.

The difference, as I said, lies in what is supported by evidence and what is pure supposition. The Myther thesis is propped up by supposition. The evolution from apocalyptic Jewish sect to Messianic sect to gentile saviour cult is right there in the evidence. That is true. Some claim that the resurrection can be proven historically.

That seems a bit strong. I do think the alternatives are difficult but not impossible positions to hold. They all give you some serious problems that get more serious as you get to know the data better. Yet they are not so untenable that they force you to accept Jesus as Lord. The hops are hard to see. Either Jesus is alive or dead. Either he is God or He is not. Either miracles happened or they did not.

There are some very large chasms to be leaped. A series of small hops does not get you there. Secondly you need a community that is unconcerned with accuracy. The early church was quite the opposite. They fought hard against Gnosticism and other heresies. They are supposed to be unconcerned with a doctrine like the resurrection or the divinity of Jesus just appearing our of nowhere.