July 21st, 2021
Look, it’s a trope.
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There’s a third alternative. He was a person at the vanguard of thought at his time in the history of the world. But it was a primitive and ignorant time, so he was not much by today’s standards. Of historical interest only.
Laripu. A fourth option. He is a fictional character cobbled together from a host of individuals who all added a bit to the fictional characteristics. No cast iron proof of Jesus being one person exists. No archeology supports that thesis. Until it does it is best to be parsimonious and state, that on the balance of probabilities he never existed…just like the urban spaceman baby…
As many people have pointed out before now, there’s a fourth “L” that Jesus could have been, outside of Liar, Lunatic, or Lord:
But somehow, I doubt C. S. Lewis would have the cojones to acknowledge that.
JC in the basic four gospels comes across as fairly chill with a simple philosophy of “Love each other and love God”. It’s only when you try to bring in the “Old Testament “(a fairly bad copy of the Jewish instruction manual) and the various writing by his friends, that it gets wacko and contradictory. I can see much merit in the philosophy of “be nice please”.
Mo on the other hand ditched “be nice please” fairly early on, I assume this was when his illness got very hallucinatory (my very uninformed diagnosis is the same illness that got Robin Williams). In fact RW and mo have a lot in common, including Genies, insane made up words and turbo monologues.
If JC was a modern comedian then who ? Personally I would go with George Carlin in Rufus mode.
Stick a fork in me I’m done.
Yeah but all that hippy shit is still mixed up with homo sapien’s original sin shite and the fact god is a king dick who tortures and kills a bit of himself for giggles and shits? This god geezer sounds very like most of the knobs who think he is real. Or is that being unfair to the old people who get god…”just in case”…
And imagine all those man-hours wasted in banging your head on the floor that could be put to better use…anybody fancy helping me paint my hall, stairs and landing to the standard her indoors expects?
More than one person? Sure, I’ll buy that, seems very likely. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t exist – he existed several times more than me! And son of God, too, as much as me. But of course he’s dead, also several times more than me.
(Uh wait, actually to be clear, I’m not dead at all.)
Oh, and as it comes to claiming he was “the Lord,” there’s always this:
I and my Father are one.
— John 10:30
And don’t forget what the boodist said to the hot dog vendor: “Make me one with everything.”
I really like M27’s and Donn’s theories. Mine is similar: JC is a cobbled together figure referencing actual living persons of the time. but mostly based on Hebrew testament writings. The very many times the NT says “to fulfill a prophecy” or otherwise refers to Hebrew sayings and events implies (as Bishop Spong nicely documents) that JC’s actual actions and sayings are mostly just regurgitated Hebrew midrash—textual interpretations where a later (usually N.T.) author calls on an earlier Hebrew scripture passage to bring a new layer of interpretation to a later event.
Since none of the gospelers (or Paul) actually knew JC, they had to rely on various, often differing, oral reports and the Hebrew scrolls were a natural source of inspiration. Eventually, in the post resurrection, pre-Pauline decade, the JC character was consolidated into a single person: MUCH easier to deal with.
So … to take an example, say Jesus was out hanging with his disciples at Martha’s house, and Mary sat in; Martha says “hey, what’s up with that, is it fair to saddle me with all the work around here taking care of you slackers, while Mary sits on her ass?”; and Jesus replies “Shut up bitch! Mary knows where it’s at. And by the way I could use some more lamb kebabs over here.”
… this exchange could be found if we knew where to look in some pre-Christian text?
M27Holts, while the 4th option may be true, I don’t think it’s relevant to the content of the main ideas attributed to Jesus. His advance – at the time – was in a distancing from legalistic Judaism toward an understanding of right and wrong and following one’s conscience. Mind you, where you’re right is that he wasn’t alone. Other thinkers within the framework of Judaism at the time had already been moving in that direction. (Hillel, for example, originator of the “golden rule”.)
The fact that we understand – today – that a lot of it, most of it, was tripe, doesn’t minimize that it was an advance – at the time. We have the perspective that comes from having learned many things over 2000 years. Analogously, Newton wasn’t stupid for not having known about Einstein’s relativity. Einstein, like Newton himself, stood on the shoulders of giants.
We today owe our moral perspective to our entire history, good and bad. Part of that debt is to the writings that came from whoever Jesus was (person or composite or many or myth).
So the ideas attributed to Jesus are antique and we need a better moral framework. Two thousand years is long enough to wait for it. There are competing movements some of which are harmful. (Right wing xenophobic movements, for example.)
I more or less agree with Bart Ehrman’s theory of how Jesus became Christ. Jesus was a rebellious, reformist Jew who infuriated the high priests and this probably led to his killing. Devastated by this unjust killing his disciples hallucinated “resurrection” and eventually led to him being elevated to godhood. As even some liberal bible criticizing Christians admit, the bible has been written and rewritten countless number of times that there are so many mistakes, inconsistencies, add ons etc, it is impossible to know what actually Jesus had claimed to be, since we dont have the original manuscript to verify.
Lord, Liar, Lunatic; and option four is Legend. Even if there were an itinerant peace-love-and-revolution preacher who got executed, since then his story has accreted more fiction than there was originally fact.
Stories always grow in the telling. Just look at how Superman has changed in a very short time – and his story was written down (and drawn). At first he could leap tall buildings in a single bound. Later he could fly quite independently of gravity. Initially he was faster than a speeding bullet, later he could fly faster than (or at least close to) the speed of light.
Laripu: At the risk of M27Holts accusing me of licking your arse, I consider your post of 3:57am a magnificent summary overview of the topic. I’m going to download and save it to my archive of quotations. I hope you don’t mind me pinching it! Thank you so much!
Son of Glenner, on the one hand I’m flattered…
On the other hand, I should just write a bunch of other stuff and have you all turn it into a religion. 😉
Can we skip the customary martyrdom, though?
By the way, the 3:57am shown must be UK time. I’m in Florida, where it was 10:57pm.
(Hmm, how does L. Ron Laripu sound? 😉 )
“(Hmm, how does L. Ron Laripu sound? 😉 )”
Laripu, isn’t that what the “L” stands for?
I don’t think there is much we can say with any certainty about the historical Jesus or his teachings. It amazes me how so many people can take pride in their skeptical unwillingness to believe the news as reported in this morning’s paper (which is not an entirely unreasonable position actually), and then turn around and express total confidence in 2000 year old reporting by correspondents they know absolutely nothing about.
Len — In gaming there is the concept of a character who is “overpowered” — i.e., has acquired so much power that all challenges become easy and the game stops being fun. Superman has had that problem; as his powers increased his writers had to invent more and more powerful antagonists in order to keep the stories interesting. Eventually it would get so outlandish that they had find ways to scale his powers back, without upending the continuity of their fictional universe. Not easy.
I think the Christian god has a similar problem. He was originally a tribal god who could plausible have battles with nearly forgotten antagonists like Leviathan and Behemoth, but as he acquired powers like omniscience and omnipotence the original stories stopped making sense. What sense does it make to fly into a rage over an event you always knew was going to happen? How can you punish people for being weak and foolish when it was you who made them weak and foolish to begin with? (That had to have been on purpose, right? You aren’t going to say God meant to make them strong and wise but then screwed up somehow, are you?) I think a lot of Christian theology — e.g., the concept of “free will” — can be interpreted as a struggle to make sense of a game with a seriously overpowered main character.
Do all the Abrahamic religions sweat that free will business? To me, that kind of stuff is far beyond the concerns of the rank and file believer. They just want Dad to be there with them and kind of hold their hand when needed. If big picture theology mattered, there’d be a lot more going over to Buddhism (not for me, but it seems better thought out in general), Gnosticism would have been a bigger deal, etc. But for what people really want, the Christian Big Daddy is an easy sell.
L Ron Laripu: I only mentioned the time shown in the comments box for reference purposes, as you do submit many comments. Sorry about the martyrdom but that’s always part of the deal, so if you’re not man enough for it, count me out as a potential first disciple!
Len: L. Ron Hubbard’s first name was Lafayette. But Laripu Ron Laripu would work for me, if it weren’t for the mandatory martyrdom.
Son of Glenner: yes, I’m martyrdom-averse. So I guess a new religion based on my babbling is out if the question.
The closest thing I’ve seen to a potential new religion is “The Physics of Immortality” by the (genuine) physicist Tipler. Unfortunately, every real physicist I’ve talked to about it says it’s mostly nonsense. (But a fun read anyway, looked at as science fiction.)
Sometimes very smart people start doing weird stuff. The Novel Prize winner Brian Josephson is studying paranormal woo-woo stuff. He’s exceptionally smart, but to my mind he’s become deluded.
The problem of overpowered characters in comic books and religion resembles another problem, in movies and religion: the corruptive effect of special effects and miracles.
An overpowered character is a kind of special effect / miracle. Special effects and miracles make writing out of a plot impasse too easy. They protect stupid plotting, idiotic dialog, wooden characters, shoddy world-building, and perverse ethics. They use up the suspension of disbelief, which forces the writer to stick to quotidian messaging. They make the story about the writer’s cheap tricks.
What about the politics of equality. Captain Marvel, is fit as fook and as a woman of course has far more power than even superman….but when I was a kid she was a he….
M27Holts: I remember Captain Marvel, alias cripple teen boy Billy Batson, well! He was a parody of Superman, although I did not realise it at the time.
Yeah, but in the new Marvel cinematic universe captain marvel is played by brie larson (i would crawl over broken glass to poke twigs in her shit)…
Brie Larson portrays Captain Marvel (Marvel Universe), Zach Levi portrays Shazam, originally named Captain Marvel (DC Universe). It’s the second one that is Billy Batson. The first has always been Carol Danvers.
Nope. In the comics (which I meant) captain Mar-vell a kree was the first and male…
The original Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr., which I remember reading eagerly circa 1950 (and swapping with mates, of course) were the alter egos of teenager Billy Batson and crippled newsboy, Freddie Freemen. They changed instantly to their super-powered selves by summoning a bolt of lightning with the utterance of the word, ‘Shazam’, an acronym of, Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury.
There is quite a complicated history of litigation over whether the idea was pinched from Superman and the original had disappeared by the early 50’s.
Choirboy: You must be really really old – like me!
SoG, it seems so. I was quite a precocious reader but still no spring chicken.
It’s been said that age is only in the mind but it becomes increasingly apparent that that’s the only place it isn’t.
I saw a tee shirt recently which I might invest in, saying, ‘I can’t believe I’m the same age as old people!’
Choirboy: Re: tee shirt: I know the feeling. Re: age is not only in the mind: For myself I agree, but I used to know someone who had Alzheimer’s Disease, starting in his early sixties; he lived on with AD for around fifteen years, getting progressively worse. For most of his final years he did not even recognise close family. I don’t know if he felt happy in himself, but he certainly had no mind in any meaningful way. When he finally died, I think all who knew him felt great relief as well as grief; I know I did. If it happens to me, I hope some kind relative will grant me painless euthanasia, as they would for a dog.
Son of Glenner:
I think this is the one I would want in such a situation
Even given Lewis’s original trilemma, why on Earth would people so readily discount either of the 2 obvious choices in favor of the outlandish one? Do we not all have ample experience with both liars and lunatics?
Who was that cupid stunt who claimed that religious claims of the miraculous had to be true because nobody would make such egregious claims if they were not…DOH!
M27Holts: Please, Sir – it wisnae me!
Aye. I know it wasnt. It came up.in the four horseman conversation I was watching last week. Will check the transcripr I have…
M27Holts, ’twas me, when I said, after Biden was elected, that there may well be a loving god.
Yeah, if he hadn’t ressurected all those dead people to vote in key states, shredded wheat head may have won, so maybe you’re right….