Joshua featured on Veritas Forum

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #81

According to the Gospels, this statement is incorrect

Look at so called Peter’s confession. Luke 9:19

Also look at Marks version (Mark 6:14) of what the people allegedly said about Jesus

(George Brooks) #82

It is fairly common to see these disputes over an exotic personality like Jesus. We’ve all read the 3-way choice: he was either a madman, a liar … or God.

Well, there is a fourth choice. He might have been an unusually zealous man of faith! For example, the Phoenicians practiced, among other things, a ritual that the Romans called Devotio - - where one could “sanctify” his body through self-sacrifice. Tyre’s founder was said to have done the very same, to establish the island state, and make his royal heirs “descendants of a god”. Within the time of recorded history, one early general named Hamilcar was celebrated for many of the same reasons we celebrate Jesus:

Herodotus writes about a battle between the Greeks and the Carthaginians on Sicily:

Hamilcar remained in the camp and made sacrifices to get good omens of success, offering whole bodies of victims upon a great pyre.

When he saw that there was a rout of his own army, he […] threw himself into the fire, and thus he was burnt up and disappeared. […] The Carthaginians offer sacrifices to him now, and also they made memorials of him then in all the cities of their colonies, and the greatest in Carthage itself. [FN: Herodotus, Histories 7.167, tr. G. C. Macaulay.]

Conclusion?: Generations before the birth of Jesus, there was a Phoenician man who became celebrated each year by the Carthaginian cities, because he sacrificed himself to become a God.

(Chris Falter) #83


However, the passages describing Peter’s confession do not state that John’s disciples believed that he had been resurrected. Only that many of “the people” believed it.

We actually have data on what John’s own disciples (as opposed to “the people”) believed about him and Jesus. In Acts 18:24 - 19:7 we read of Apollos and the Jews whom He converted to following the way of the Lord. These disciples of John manifestly did not believe that John had been resurrected from the dead. They did, however, believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the prophesied, anointed one who would restore Israel, and they did practice baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

To me, then, you reasoning by analogy from “the people’s” beliefs seems far from watertight. The record shows quite clearly that John’s own disciples did not believe he had been resurrected.

Moreover, there is no indication that any of “the people” believed that they had witnessed an identifiable, post-resurrection John the Baptist. Rather, “the people” were speculating and rumors were rampant. They had opinions, not experiences. Some thought Jesus was Elijah returned, some thought he was John returned. Opinions.

Thus the phenomenon you are discussing (“the people’s” speculations about John) and the phenomenon that Christians discuss (post-resurrection encounters with an identifiable Jesus) are far from the same.

Again, if you do not wish to follow the same path that I and Joshua and Mervin and Roger are following, that is your prerogative. I’m glad that you are giving thought to these important questions, though, and are here to discuss them with us. I hope that our conversation has helped you see some things more clearly.

Chris Falter

(Chris Falter) #84

Not even close, George. Jesus and his disciples were Jews–monotheistic Jews. By contrast, the Carthaginian populace was very much polytheistic. Your attempt to apply Carthaginian thinking to the beliefs and practices of faithful, monotheistic Jews just doesn’t work.

You’re a fine man, George, but I vigorously disagree with this notion.:slight_smile:

Chris Falter

(George Brooks) #85


Perhaps you think I am trying to prove something – that I’m not actually trying to prove.

My point was to show that modern theologians are woefully unaware of some of the dynamics of ancient religions and their associated metaphysics.

Interpretations of “angelization” or “deification” that have popped up now and then during ancient and more modern times are not what you call “slam dunk” proposals… but they hail back (knowingly or unknowingly) to earlier concepts of metaphysics.

I am not trying to say Jesus was a Phoenician … or that Jews were Phoenician.

I am saying that the ideas swirling around during the time of Jesus could have inspired all sorts of ideas. If Herodotus knew of this Hamilcar, then all Greek speakers knew of this Hamilcar.

It could very well be that the very first idea of a “guardian angel” is to be found buried in the Moloch rite … where a child is sacrificed. And then the dead child is burned like a Greek hero was burned - - to liberate its physical connections with the natural world - - and thus exist eternally as a divine protector of the family that offered this child to the divine.

How does all this connect to the matter being disputed with @SuperBigV? I think he would be just as surprised as you or anyone else … that there has been more than one real human who offered himself as a sacrifice that would make him a god.

(Chris Falter) #86

My friend George,

Theologians are very much aware of the notions that swirled around Phoenicia. My point is this: that you would think they have any relationship to the Jesus movement indicates that you misunderstand just how different the Phoenician ideas and the Jesus movement ideas are.

Happy Sunday,

(George Brooks) #87


  1. As a Unitarian Universalist, I am very used to hearing this accusation. And I’m certainly not surprised to hear it here on a BioLogos board.

  2. I think you overestimate what Theologians know. Naturally some theologians know about these ideas of Divinization. But which Christian theologian could you nominate that you think would be familiar with these ideas - - in relation to Phoenician theology?

From one good friend to another good friend,


(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #88

First of all, we don’t have John’s disciples’ writings. Secondly, in your passage, there is no indication what John’s disciples believed about John’s resurrection. I think you are presuming here that a person familiar with John’s baptism is the same as John’s disciple. I don’t think this is a good connection to make.

But be that as it may. The Gospels show that the Jewish people, from whom the original disciples allegedly came, believed, without any evidence whatsoever that John the Baptist rose from the dead.

No indication from the Christian writings (Christians apparently were competing for converts with John the Baptist followers). So, Christian testimony is antagonist to that of John the Baptist. I would say (assuming Gospels are historical) this is a better evidence of the belief in John’s resurrection. All claims of Jesus’ resurrection come from Christian sources. Here, we have a Christian source attesting to the belief in John the Baptist’s resurrection.

Therefore, it is not without question that people can believe in someone’s resurrection without a good evidence for the resurrection.

(Peaceful Science) #89

You seem to miss that in all cases, “people” thought that Jesus was John the Baptist risen again. So the resurrection of John (if we are to believe it) is the resurrection of Jesus anyways.

Moreover, it is indisputable that (1) we know of no one willing to die for this belief and (2) did not give rise to anything like the early church. If you disagree, please produce evidence. For this reason it is nothing like the belief of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Moreover, Jesus = John was an impossible rumor to sustain. John the Baptist was Jesus’s cousin, they were family members. They were born within 9 months of each other. They lived at the same time, and their public ministries overlapped for at least one full year. They had public conversations with one another, and John’s disciples even communicated messages between John and Jesus. There is no way any informed person would believe that Jesus = John. Herod did because he was ignorant and guilty, not because he followed John.

Before you continue arguing this line, please consider exactly what you expect to accomplish.

Honestly @SuperBigV, your argument just makes no sense. This is quote mining at its worst, probably scraped of a website somewhere. This is extremely close minded. It reminds me of the worst of creationism. None of this convinces anyone.

It is more respectable to disbelieve without bad arguments. The Resurrection is a big claim, and disbelief is reasonable, especially when does not know the evidence for it or have experience with the Living God. Unbelief does not need the support of quote mining and bad arguments. If you dare, try understanding what you reject. You might find something valuable.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #90

Well, you see, I provide references for you proving from your own Scriptures, that a belief based on NO FACTS whatsoever is possible.

And no, it was not resurrection of Jesus. Jesus did not even die by that point. John the Baptist was just recently killed by Herod.

I thought I already addressed these points. 1) you have not demonstrated that the early Christians, especially Jewish Christians, were dying for the belief in the Resurrection. As was shown already, these belivers were persecuted for rejecting the Law of Moses and circumcison. Paul himself states this in Galatians! And, when the belief in the resurrection from the dead is mentioned in Acts, the Pharisees agree with Paul!!! The picture that is painted by the apologists on this point is a fantasy. 2) the early church was so diverse that it’s not clear what movement even Jesus gave rise to.

But this is ultimately irrelevant. The point is, that like with the belief in John’s resurrection, belief in Jesus’ resurrection could have been started for the wrong reasons!!!

And, knowing what we know about the human nature, and the nature in general, it is more likely that people started believing in Jesus’ resurrection for the wrong reasons, than that Jesus actually rose from the dead![quote=“Swamidass, post:89, topic:35602”]
Moreover, Jesus = John was an impossible rumor to sustain. John the Baptist was Jesus’s cousin, they were family members. They were born within 9 months of each other. They lived at the same time, and their public ministries overlapped for at least one full year. They had public conversations with one another, and John’s disciples even communicated messages between John and Jesus. There is no way any informed person would believe that Jesus = John. Herod did because he was ignorant and guilty, not because he followed John.

Well, what I find curious, is that Jesus tells the disciples to not tell anyone about him, after Peter tells him the people are confused. Just so you know, I think the Gospels are stories. I agree with you that it is highly improbable that the people would confuse dead John for living Jesus or that the people would think John rose from the dead in the person of Jesus. I agree with you. BUT… it is a Christian Scripture that is making these claims.

Now, here is a perfect case of a believer unwilling to consider their faith may be wrong. You see, I have nothing to win or lose with my arguments, but you have a religion that just must be true, at all cost. So, you make a claim that the Bible says that only Herod thought John was raised in the person of Jesus. I showed you how this is incorrect, that even the people thought this too, but you are not swayed. You are looking for other holes in my arguments. But I am not saying anything that is not written in the Gospels! All of my arguments come from there.

(side note, I became Jesus Mythicist after realizing that Jesus saying… “do not tell this to anyone” is likely a cover up, written by a later writer to explain the fact that no one seems to know about this Jesus. They only know about John the Baptist. Yes, it’s a theory, I can’t prove this is the case, but it makes sense to me when looking at it from the totality of the Bible )

And, btw, Christian apologists stay away from John’s resurrection claims too. It turns their apologetic on it’s head. Chrsitian apologists claim that a Jewish person would never believe in a bodily resurrection unless it was an end of time and everyone was being raised for the judgment. Well, John’s resurrection claim, as recorded by the Gospelers contradicts this!!!

So, you have Jewish people who, as expected, believe in the resurrection of John for the false reasons. IF these people would start being killed for their belief, you would claim that John must have risen too, because people don’t just hold wrong convictions that are baseless and that they can verify? I’m sorry, but I see this all the time. My dad, who is a pastor, keeps telling me (after I show him Jesus was wrong about his 2nd coming, after I show him the prayer promises are false) that there is no other option. Must believe in Jesus no matter what. There are Christians who today reject evolution in favor of Noah’s Arc! But the science is right there for everyone to see, right?

If there is an apparition from heaven, of a Muslim Prophet Mohammad, who would tell them to convert, Christians TODAY would interpret this as Satan trying to deceive them!!! Beliefs are never about the evidence and in this they are the opposite of science. In my humble opinion, of course.

All the best.

(Jay Johnson) #91

@SuperBigV Good to see you again. Sorry that I haven’t had time to read the entire thread, but it seems that your original objections about John the Baptist’s “resurrection,” Peter’s subsequent confession of Jesus as the Christ, and Jesus’ instruction not to tell anyone are still the bones of contention. Actually, the answers are straightforward, although they aren’t likely to sway you into changing your mind.

All three problems are related to the same issue, and that is the Jewish people’s expectations of the Messiah. Common ideas in first-century Judea mainly swirled around three strands of OT prophecy: the Prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15-19), the Davidic King (2 Sam. 7:11-13, Psalm 2:1-9, Dan. 7:13-14, etc.), the “forerunner” or “messenger of the covenant” (Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6). In the main, the people were expecting a king who would defeat Israel’s enemies and rule the world from Jerusalem, and since Elijah was taken directly to heaven in a fiery chariot in 2 Kings 2:11, people were expecting that the literal Elijah would return bodily from heaven as the Messiah’s forerunner.

In almost all of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he avoided using the term “Messiah” because it was loaded with nationalistic and political overtones that he did not wish to arouse. Jesus’ preferred term was “Son of Man,” which allowed him to speak of himself and his mission publicly without arousing dreams of a political savior, rather than a spiritual one. (Strangely, “one like a son of man” appears in Daniel 7, which was one of Judaism’s favorite messianic passages, but the phrase was not considered a title for Messiah.) John 12:34 is a good example: The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” The prime example of why Jesus kept his messianic identity a secret from the general public is in John 6. Immediately after miraculously feeding the 5000, John reports the crowd’s reaction: Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Notice that they immediately associated the miraculous feeding with the messianic expectations of the Prophet like Moses. Next, we read: So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone. Following this incident, the rest of John chapter 6 describes how Jesus walks across the water in the middle of the night to escape the crowd, and after the leaders of the same crowd that wanted to crown him king find him in Capernaum, Jesus intentionally drives them away (along with many of his own disciples) by telling them they must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life! This whole theme has even been given a name: the “Messianic Secret”.

What does this have to do with Peter’s confession and John the Baptist? It’s all part of the same thought-complex. Jesus asks who the “crowds” say that he is, because he has not spoken of himself as the Messiah in public. Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah or one of the other prophets. Then Jesus asks his disciples who they say that he is. Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, and then immediately afterward, when Jesus predicts his death and resurrection, Peter shows why Jesus has commanded them not to speak of it. Peter, like all Jews of his era, expected the Messiah to be a conquering king who lived forever, so he attempted to set Jesus straight. “No, Lord, this will never happen to you.” The next section of the Gospel thus depicts Jesus privately educating his disciples on his true mission and fate – the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 52:13-53:12. Not until the “Triumphal Entry” does Jesus publicly accept acclaim as the Christ.

As for Herod and John the Baptist, Mark 6:14 says Herod heard that rumor from the crowds, who were themselves speculating about the source of Jesus’ miraculous powers. Since first-century Jews expected Elijah to return bodily from heaven, and since Elijah had raised a widow from the dead in 1 Kings, and since miracles of healing had not been seen in Israel since the time of Elijah, it is not to hard to understand the rumors circulating among the public about John coming back from the dead.

Take care!

(Chris Falter) #92

Hi George,

Larry Hurtado’s Lord Jesus Christ is widely regarded as the best scholarly treatment of the issue.


Divinity of Jesus
(Jay Johnson) #93

Actually, Jesus first disciples were originally John’s disciples, and one of them wrote down a few things for us …

35 Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” 39 He *said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He *found first his own brother Simon and *said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

43 The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip *found Nathanael and *said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #94

What happened to the Messianic Secret? Not a secret in John?

Also if you read my question, I was challenging John’s disciples beliefs about John not Jesus. Even if two of his disciples converted what about the rest?

You may find this interesting (or maybe disturbing)

(Brad Kramer) #95

5 posts were split to a new topic: Divinity of Jesus

Divinity of Jesus
(Jay Johnson) #100

Haha. You got me! Seriously, though, first-century Israel was in the grips of messianic fever. Josephus lists seven (if memory serves) messianic pretenders between Herod the Great’s death and the Jewish revolt against Rome. (Josephus has a lot to say about John the Baptist, too. Just an FYI.) In any case, the Messianic Secret motif is strongest in Mark, but the other Synoptics echo the theme. John has his own agenda. Even within his own narrative structure and theological purpose, however, the only time early in his ministry that Jesus self-identifies as Messiah is to the Samaritan woman at the well. This is interesting, especially coming after he has just rebuffed Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin. The explanation is that the Samaritan Yahweh cult expected the Messiah to be a prophet like Moses, but they had no interest in a Jewish king.

As far as “what happened to John’s disciples?”, Acts sheds some light on the topic, as well as Paul’s letters. We could discuss evidence from Josephus and other sources, but I don’t think either of us believe that is necessary.

I checked out your link, but I skipped from the first paragraph to the conclusion, since the paper itself was obviously silly. The conclusion was interesting. Thanks for the clue about what you’re really doing. I knew you were a sharp cookie. Anyway, from the conclusion of Mr. Price’s essay:

What most will conclude is that the author of this paper is perhaps a bit too clever for his own good, that all he has shown, whatever he may have intended, is that New Testament scholarship has become a game where, using various exegetical moves, certain arguments or types of arguments, reasoning in unanticipated directions from accepted axioms, one make a more or less plausible-sounding case for almost any notion. If the present paper be deemed a bit of sophistry, then at least allow it to have demonstrated that virtually all exegetical scholarship is engaged in the same type of endeavor. It is all a matter of what test-paradigms, theoretical tools, and methodologies one will bring to bear on the texts. It is almost like dropping sticks on the open page of the I Ching and seeing what oracle you can construe from the pithy but enigmatic signifiers ranged there. As Stanley Fish says (Is There a Text in This Class?), meaning is not so much what we receive from the text as it is what we read into it. Or, better, also a la Fish, meaning is determined by the ways we read the text.

We can kick around those concepts in another thread if you’d like, but the John the Baptist thing is an obvious red herring.

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #101

hi Jay, not necessarily. Robert Price makes the following point (on which he is 100% correct)

There are several New Testament passages which over the years have struck me as being pregnant with implications far beyond those scholars usually reckon with. These texts seem to me to be held in check by the conventional ways in which we read the documents in which they occur. They are “anomalous data” (Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) which somehow seem “left over” in the context of the paradigms which seem to make such excellent sense of the rest of the text, but which leave these odd verses cold…

My point is that there seem to have been actual groups of people who held these opinions about Jesus in the time the gospels were being written, and the gospels argue against them. One such belief was that Jesus was the resurrected John the Baptist. It is remarkable enough to know that some believed John had been resurrected; but what are the implications of an early belief that John rose from the dead and then became known as Jesus?

The above statement is firmly supported by the Gospels. Now, personally, I believe that the Gospels are just stories. They are not historical at all, but I am assuming historicity when discussing Christian doctrines, and teachings such as a Resurrection of Jesus.

In my view, the statement that Jesus was thought to be risen John the Baptist is a clever cover up by the Gospel authors. Written to explain why noone heard about this Jesus fellow (the response would be that most everyone was so confused, they thought he was risen John the Baptist).

Similarly, when the Gospels quote Jesus telling people … do not tell this to anyone, this is likely to explain why noone heard about this.

It’s not a secret that the Gospel of Mark probably ends at Ch. 16, vs 8. 8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid Perhaps this too is written to explain why noone in Judea heard about a resurrection? Of course, Matthew and Luke (and Mark editors) would create a suitable ending later, but Mark’s Gospel was the first to be written according to most Bible scholars.

It’s for these reasons (and others) that I tend to agree with Jesus myth theorists.

(Jay Johnson) #102

Sorry. Seemed to me you were intentionally making people run in circles to prove Price’s point. If you think he was seriously offering that theory about John the Baptist, I think you’ve misread him. Either way, I’ll let the other folks chase their tails on this one. I have a hard time taking it seriously. Others may find it more interesting…

(George Brooks) #103


Let me amuse you with a Unitarian Universalist’s view on the Jesus myth theories:

  1. Based on the interlocking testimonies of Josephus and the New Testament (recognizing that each of these sources is not always reliable), my working scenario is that Josephus’ Samaritan Messiah is Jesus (who tells the story about “What Jesus Would Do” in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

  2. There was a branch of Yahweh-ism in Samaria that looked to the Temple in Jerusalem, instead of the Temple in on Mt. Gezerim in Shechem (the New Testament city of Nablus). Many of the earliest successes of Jesus and his missionizing apostles was with the Samaritan community.

  3. The Samaritans were referred (derisively) as “Greeks” - - which does much of the heavy lifting for explaining Paul’s Galatians text:

"There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female … " (Galatians 3:28)

    • which otherwise would make no sense when the Latin empire had complete control. Sure, the Romans spoke Greek, but stretching this verse to refer to the Romans is completely premature and without foundation.
  1. Another corpus of ancient text concerns a Samaritan religious leader named “Dostan” or “Dositheus”, who was said to have known John the Baptist and taught Simon (who is sometimes cited as the successor to John’s “flock”). There appears to have been an even earlier Dostan, which muddies the clarity of the texts. Concerning one of them, there is a very curious description of his death “in a cave”, but not experiencing the corruption of death, and then disappearing.

  2. Setting aside the old chestnut referred to as the Testimonium Flavianum (where Josephus Flavius supposedly refers to Jesus explicitly by name), there is another part of Josephus with a less controversial context which refers to the James “that was the brother of Jesus.”

  3. The frequently mentioned gnostic attributes (sometimes “gnostic-lite”) to the Dositheans, the Early Church, and even Paul would be consistent with the primitive church being associated with a Samaritan movement. In the Gospel of John, even Jesus says he is called “Samaritan”.

  4. Arab commentator, Abu al-Fatḥ, says of the Dostan, the Samaritan Dositheans, that they abolished the festivals instituted by the Mosaic law, as well as the astronomical tables, counting thirty days in every month, without variation. Such a movement could be confused with, a garbling of, or a related reference to the New Testament’s references to the early Christian community moving away from traditional Jewish rules and “fences within fences”.

It goes without saying that even some Unitarian Universalists think Jesus was a real person, though sometimes linked to other Messiah figures of the time. Being a Unitarian, I would hold that Jesus was “adopted” into the “son-ship” of Yahweh.

“Greeks” - Followers (including Samaritans) of so-called Hellenistic Judaism.

Dositheos or Dostan

(Vlad K. I'm an Agnostic Atheist) #104

Well, even if you don’t take Price’s theory seriously, you must deal with the fact that the Gospelers claim people thought Jesus was risen John the Baptist! Personally, I don’t think people thought this, but the Gospelers (GMark, GMatthew, GLuke) all claim this happened.