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Christmas and Easter

Poll #1831510 Christmas and Easter

2000 years ago, give or take a few:

A baby called Jesus was born
In a stable or place where animals were kept
To a virgin called Mary
As prophesied 600 years earlier by Isaiah
And angels sang in the night skies outside
And a star was seen overhead

Thirty years later, give or take a few:

A guy called Jesus was crucified, and then
The Romans took his body out of the tomb
The Jewish authorities took his body out of the tomb
The early Christians took his body out of the tomb
His dead body was still in the tomb when people were claiming he was risen
He rose from the dead, thus confirming his teaching and himself as divine
He rose from the dead, but this doesn't show he's divine
Something else which I will explain in a comment


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC)
I very nearly checked "And a star was seen overhead" out of pedantry because provided it's dark and not cloudy, there are a lot of stars seen overhead just about anything. Especially since there was less light pollution back then.

Also, I look forward to hearing the Zombie Jesus theories arising from anyone choosing "He rose from the dead, but this doesn't show he's divine".
Apr. 5th, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC)
I think it's a fairly plausible position to think that the post-crucifixion encounters with Jesus read like a standard ghost story (he appears in locked rooms, he suddenly vanishes, his friends don't recognise him and then they do etc), so I think 'the disciples really did encounter Jesus after he died' and 'this doesn't mean he's God, he was just a ghost like lots of other people' is as self consistent and defendable as many other interpretations. I'm not sure 'he came back as a ghost' is entirely equivalent to 'he rose from the dead' though.
(no subject) - passage - Apr. 8th, 2012 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cartesiandaemon - Apr. 5th, 2012 02:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alextfish - Apr. 5th, 2012 03:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 5th, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
I really should finish my series reading Mark's gospel :)

FWIW, my honest best guess is that there probably was a specific guy referred to in the gospels, presumably called Jesus, whose preaching happened roughly as described. But the miracles and the birth story were wishful thinking on behalf of the witnesses and recorders.

I'm not sure about the crucifiction: I think _something_ happened, and I agree it's a bit more startling than most historical anomolies, but to me, something like "Jesus was crucified, someone had a vision/dream/hallucination that they saw him, several other people copied that, people were sufficiently convinced to become missionaries, someone embellished the story a bit to add in the 'proof' bit of it" seems reasonably plausible compared to the alternative.

I'm sorry for bringing religious debate to LJ, but I thought you deserved more of an answer than a tickybox :) I'm curious to see which combination other people tick.
Apr. 5th, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
No need to apologise! Or at least, if you think there is need to apologise, then I should probably be the one doing it; I pretty much asked for it by posting this set of questions :) And needless to say, I'm also very curious to see what other people say!
Apr. 5th, 2012 03:10 pm (UTC)
The poll is currently saying five participants, but only four people's answers are showing. Is there a secret Jesus-mythist lurking around and not being properly counted, or is LJ buggy (or both)?
Apr. 5th, 2012 03:51 pm (UTC)
If you want to see poll results but don't want to give an opinion, you can just tick 'submit' without clicking anything. I do that sometimes.
(no subject) - woodpijn - Apr. 5th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alextfish - Apr. 5th, 2012 04:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - andrewducker - Apr. 5th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alextfish - Apr. 5th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - atreic - Apr. 5th, 2012 05:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - andrewducker - Apr. 5th, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 5th, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
2000 years ago, give or take a few, a baby called Jesus was born in a stable or place where animals were kept to a young maiden called Mary.

Thirty years later, give or take a few, a guy called Jesus was crucified. The soldiers cut him down too soon, so he didn't die.

Later, people tied his life in with a load of prophecies, stars, etc. to support their preaching.
Apr. 5th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
Google fail, but the chap who's tomb he used had 2, and he could have been moved to the other one. Also, recently there was a corpse found with matching wounds to Jesus in a tomb with a stone on it, ie matching the description. But I'm suffering from google fail so can't find it. medieval_bunny studied it.

Otherwise I have two thoughts - either not actually dead. Or is dead, but disciples have mystic experiences after whilst in shock.

I do believe he was a good man, if a little off the wall. I met a man who worshiped an Indian lady as god/jesus's reincarnation etc whilst in India. I can't remember her name; but there's a whole religion about the lady. And it hit me that it was exactly like early Christians and Jesus.
They even had albums of bad photography showing her 'aura'.

I think that put the last nail in the coffin for me of Jesus being any more divine than the rest of us.

We are all children of God in some form however.

And some people are inspired and inspirational leaders; and I think he was.

However the number of wars and deaths Christianity has caused, I think the buddhists have got it a bit more right really.
Apr. 19th, 2012 11:19 am (UTC)
One of the more convincing arguments for Jesus' resurrection to me is the variety of resurrection appearances, to a number of different people, attested by a variety of authors relatively few years after the events; and in particular the appearance mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:6 to "more than five hundred" people. Paul explicitly mentions that most of these five hundred are still alive - i.e. were eyewitnesses who the Corinthian recipients of the letter could go and ask themselves.

I definitely agree that the Church throughout history has frequently failed quite spectacularly to follow Jesus' example.
(no subject) - aiwendel - Apr. 19th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alextfish - Apr. 19th, 2012 12:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aiwendel - Apr. 19th, 2012 01:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alextfish - Apr. 19th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aiwendel - Apr. 24th, 2012 12:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2012 10:43 am (UTC)
I'm mildly surprised more people didn't answer actually, and also that there wasn't more variation. It seems like 6 people believed everything, 3 people beleived Jesus existed and was crucified, and an unknown number of people didn't think Jesus even existed. And the only exceptions are (i) one person who thought "a star was seen overhead" (ii) one person who thought Jesus was crucified and the body was still in the tomb when people thought they saw him (iii) one person who thought something else which will be explained in comments :)
Apr. 19th, 2012 11:21 am (UTC)
Well, my friendlist is a fairly small and select group ;) (Technically I suppose it's the people who've got me on their friendslists, but it's fairly similar.) But naturally, having been mentioned in a discussion over on atreic's journal, the number of participants has climbed significantly! ;)
(no subject) - aiwendel - Apr. 24th, 2012 12:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cartesiandaemon - Apr. 24th, 2012 12:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:04 pm (UTC)
I only just spotted this after seeing atreic refer to it on her journal.

Hopefully, you won't think I'm being pedant-y just for the sake of it, but I found this quite difficult to fill in, as follows:

"A baby called Jesus was born". A baby was born and then he was named Jesus, yes.

"In a stable or place where animals were kept". I couldn't agree to this one because Scripture only affirms that Jesus was born in a manager, and doesn't mention a stable/animal place. Not sure whether the presence of the manger should imply the presence of the stable, or whether refusing to acknowledge a stable / animal keeping place is staying within the Scriptural witness...

"To a virgin called Mary". ARGH. Due to the common Hebrew translation of "virgin" as young woman, it would be possible to tick this statement without believing in a virginal conception. I wasn't sure whether you were trying to ask if we believed in an historical Mary (much like statement one) or a virginal conception, or both.

"As prophesied 600 years earlier by Isaiah..." Again, this is tricky. Do we have to believe that Isaiah wrote Isaiah or is it ok to believe in Isaiah as a divinely inspired compilation of texts written by a number of authors? Or were you saying that it doesn't matter what we believe about the way Isaiah was written, and just asking about whether we believe Isaiah contains a prophecy about Jesus? I got all hung up on the 600 years part because what you believe about authorship affects the dating.

"He rose from the dead, thus confirming his teaching and himself as divine". A minor quibble, but I was reading the secondary literature about the Council of Nicea today, and finding that belief in Jesus' divinity wouldn't be that unusual because all sorts of things/people were understood to have divine attributes. What matters is not so much his divinity (we are all partakers of the divine nature) or his resurrection (he raised others from the dead) as his being of one substance with the Father, which we as human beings are not.

Apr. 19th, 2012 11:12 am (UTC)
BTW, sorry for the late reply - LJ isn't notifying me of new replies to this post!

I'm rather amused by the degree of pedantry here, but I can see why it's important. I think I've adopted some of andrewducker's poll-writing style: deliberately phrase things in pretty bold terms, and if people want to give a more nuanced view, let them do so in the comments.

The manger vs stable point seems quite a technicality; we're told there was no room available in the inn, so I'm not sure quite where else it might have been. I guess it's just about possible the inn kept the manger in their common room? I've been told that current Biblical scholars think it was actually a cave where animals were kept rather than a stable - amusingly, this was by a ten-year-old boy; but his father is a New Testament scholar at Tyndale House - the joys of teaching Sunday school at Eden Baptist!
Apr. 24th, 2012 12:53 pm (UTC)
"To a virgin called Mary"

I remember a fierce disagreement about this issue. I don't have any first-hand knowledge, but the best impression I got out of it was that Isiah used the ambiguous Hewbrew word (and could most plausibly be read as referring to contemporary events and not making a prediction about the future at all), but the new testament unambiguously used the Greek word for "virgin", and said that Isiah predicted such a thing would happen.

But I like the pedantry, Alex's strategy of eliciting comments by being decisive in the poll options appears to work :) Maybe we should have a follow-up poll :)
Apr. 16th, 2012 03:21 pm (UTC)
Another visitor from
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Another visitor from <lj-user="atreic">'s LJ...

I've left the poll blank. Back when I was a first year undergrad, I let the CiCCU mission evangelise at me; I sort-of got half-way convinced by the historical evidence, but I could never make sense of what it was that I was expected to believe in. It felt like an extraordinary claim was trying to be justified by evidence that was merely good, but might it have been good enough? For a while there was a deadlock in my mind, it was not a happy time.

Anyway, I ended up thinking, "there's lots of alternative explanations, only one has to be correct, my bet isn't on any one horse", and that gave me at least some peace. Hence the poll not being filled out. It was 2000 years ago, and I'm not sure what the epistemic practises were like in that age.
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )