Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

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Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Post by SEG » Wed May 23, 2018 10:33 am

I'd like to make a comment on why the late, great, Christopher Hitchens believed in the historical Jesus. During his talk on his book, "Why God is Not Great", he makes these comments on why he believes that the Jesus of the Bible may have been a historical person:

Here is a transcript of the above video:
Now, there is on the historicity point, there're only two reasons to suppose that there may have been the figure of some kind of deluded rabbi present at that time.

The first is the fakery of the story. The fakery itself proves something.

The prophecy says this man must be born in the house of David, of David's line, in David's town. Means he must be born in Bethlehem.

Jesus of Nazareth is well known to have been born in Nazareth.

In order to get him to Bethlehem a huge fabrication has to be undertaken. A census is proposed by Cesar Augustus. No such census ever took place.

The people of the region were not required to go back to their hometown to be registered. That's never happened.

Quirinius was not governor of Syria in that year as the gospels say.

None of the story of the Nativity is true in any detail, and not one of the gospels agrees with each other on this fabrication.

But the fabrication itself suggests something

If they were simply going to make up the whole thing and had never been such person then why not just have him born in Bethlehem right there and leave out the Nazarene business.

So the very falsity of it, the very fanatical attempt to make it come right suggests that yes, there may have been a charismatic deluded individual wondering around at that time.

But which is most impressive to you?

The fantastic fabrications, the unbelievably inane and inarticulate preachments or the inconsistencies in the story?

You can mention another thing about the resurrection.

Most of the witnesses to this are women, illiterate, stupid, deluded, hysterical females, of a kind that to a Jewish Court at that time would have had about as much chance of being listened to as they would in Islamic court today.

What religion that wants its fabrication to be believed it's gonna say, "You've got to believe it 'cause we have some illiterate hysterical girls who said they saw this."

No, it's impressive to me that the evidence is so thin and is so hysterical and is so feeble and is so obviously, strenuously cobbled together, because it suggests that something was going on, there was some character.


And I don't want therefore to profane those who think they know there must have been something.

This is not a whole cloth fabrication, but it is a very human and very intelligible and very pitiable practice of fraud, that may have worked on stupefied peasants in the greater Jerusalem area but should really have no power to influence anyone in this room
I'd like to comment on the 2 objections he said that I have bolded above.

1. If they were simply going to make up the whole thing and had never been such person then why not just have him born in Bethlehem right there and leave out the Nazarene business.

That was the case in Mark and Matthew. He had no birth story in Mark and Mathew had him born in a house in Bethlehem, not a manger. The Nazarene business had nothing to do with locality, it was probably referring to a cultic title.
Where he said;
So the very falsity of it, the very fanatical attempt to make it come right suggests that yes, there may have been a charismatic deluded individual wondering around at that time.
This looks like a version of the criterion of embarrassment where the authors would supposedly not have gone out of their way to create a story that embarrassed its author. I think that a far more parsimonious explanation was that it was just made up in order to fulfill a prophesy in the OT.

2. He goes on to say this:
Most of the witnesses to this are women, illiterate, stupid, deluded, hysterical females, of a kind that to a Jewish Court at that time would have had about as much chance of being listened to as they would in Islamic court today.

What religion that wants its fabrication to be believed it's gonna say You've got to believe it 'cause we have some illiterate hysterical girls who said they saw this.
I see the part about women being the witnesses as being an allegorical message of the reversal of expectation, as Carrier notes, that the least shall be first. In any case, in this location and era, women were apparently able to take others to trial and speak in court as witnesses.

This short video is probably a better explanation and is the motivation behind this post;

“There are no known non-biblical references to a historical Jesus by any historian or other writer of the time during and shortly after Jesus's purported advent.” His so-called life was a farce.

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Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Post by ElectricMonk » Wed May 23, 2018 10:41 am

Hitchens' point is that it doesn't matter if he existed: his message is flawed.
If he was God, then he was a flawed god.

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Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed May 23, 2018 2:46 pm

SEG: big difference between believe Jesus DID exist vs he may have. Cant say the first and support it with evidence of the second.

You miss the point entirely when saying:
This looks like a version of the criterion of embarrassment where the authors would supposedly not have gone out of their way to create a story that embarrassed its author. I think that a far more parsimonious explanation was that it was just made up in order to fulfill a prophesy in the OT.
No. If just made up, you would have Jesus born in the right place. THATS THE WHOLE POINT.
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Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Post by SEG » Sat May 26, 2018 8:44 am

ElectricMonk wrote:Hitchens' point is that it doesn't matter if he existed: his message is flawed.
If he was God, then he was a flawed god.
Yes, I agree but when he said this,
But the fabrication itself suggests something

If they were simply going to make up the whole thing and had never been such person then why not just have him born in Bethlehem right there and leave out the Nazarene business.

So the very falsity of it, the very fanatical attempt to make it come right suggests that yes, there may have been a charismatic deluded individual wondering around at that time.
I think that he was pre-supposing that Nazareth existed and he came from there. Which made him a real charismatic deluded individual wondering around at that time.
“There are no known non-biblical references to a historical Jesus by any historian or other writer of the time during and shortly after Jesus's purported advent.” His so-called life was a farce.

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Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Post by ElectricMonk » Sat May 26, 2018 9:03 am

Look, Messiahs were a dime a dozen at the time: the region was under Roman occupation, and everyone claiming to be able to free the people, physically and/or spiritually had a following.
Jesus is most likely an amalgam of a number of prophets at a time were prophets alone weren't enough: they had to be saviors.

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Re: Why Christopher Hitchens believed in The Historical Jesus

Post by SEG » Sat May 26, 2018 11:05 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:SEG: big difference between believe Jesus DID exist vs he may have. Cant say the first and support it with evidence of the second.
Sorry, who are you quoting here?
bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:You miss the point entirely when saying:
This looks like a version of the criterion of embarrassment where the authors would supposedly not have gone out of their way to create a story that embarrassed its author. I think that a far more parsimonious explanation was that it was just made up in order to fulfill a prophesy in the OT.
No. If just made up, you would have Jesus born in the right place. THATS THE WHOLE POINT.
Did you listen to the second video? You may have missed this if you did;
Humphries says;
where it goes wrong is in assuming that more or less someone at some stage later
identified as Luke sat down and wrote a story we've been some facts he was compelled to use with fictional elements of his own. - but he didn't.

Luke had before him at least two earlier versions of Jesus tale and in the two we know of (Mark and Matthew), the parents of Jesus DID NOT inconveniently live in Nazareth!

Mark has nothing at all to say about the birth of Jesus, nothing about Joseph and nothing about Bethlehem. And in fact if we recognize that the intrusion of Nazareth in the opening baptism scene of Mark's Gospel is a later harmonizing interpolation, we see the elsewhere in the original Greek manuscripts of Mark the writer never says Jesus is from Nazareth either ,but only ever refers to Jesus as a Nazarene!

From his first miracle at Capernaum through to the last words of the angel in the tomb mark speaks of Jesus the Nazarene. The word most probably means branch or offshoot from Judaism - an appropriate label for a hero with a new message from God.

Now the Nativity was added to the basic Marken story by the author of Matthew late in the day, when the original end of the world had passed. And Matthew does place the Holy Family conveniently in Bethlehem, not inconveniently in Nazareth.

Matthew's Jesus is born in a house (not a stable) and he lands up in Nazareth only later in order to fulfill a prophecy.

Now Luke tidied up a lot of Matthew's handiwork. He knew that Matthew's claim that the prophets had said the Messiah should be a Nazarene had no support, though Luke dropped any reference to such a prophecy.

Luke retained the notion popularized by Matthew's Gospel that the boy Jesus had grown up in the otherwise unknown Galilean city of Nazareth, but that meant he had to find a pretext for briefly move in the action to Bethlehem and here a census referred to in the histories of Josephus, were much more convincing than Matthew's vague Nazarene prophecy.

Luke also dropped the unconvincing references to a massacre of infants a flight to Egypt and instead substituted an orderly blessing in Jerusalem from an elderly prophet who greets the child as a light to the Gentiles. He then completes his story with a return home to Nazareth all very sweet, all very familiar, and all very bogus
So yeah, it was ALL made up. The more the lie was told, the more it grew and became mangled.
“There are no known non-biblical references to a historical Jesus by any historian or other writer of the time during and shortly after Jesus's purported advent.” His so-called life was a farce.