Saturday, December 26, 2009

the historical jesus, part one

Canto: It's December 25, the day when Christian propaganda comes to the boil. Today I was outraged and infuriated by a presentation on Channel 7 called 'The Christ Files', dubbed 'a search for the real Jesus'. Familiar territory? Of course - the Jesus Seminar, and its successor, the Jesus Project, has been engaging in this task for many years now. The difference is that the creators of 'The Christ Files' are far more interested in propaganda than research.
Jacinta: Yes, I noticed that this show was given a 'G' rating. Anything by the Jesus Project would probably be rated MA, as confronting the innocent with disturbing truths about the bullshit being fed to them, and the children before them, for centuries. But for a more accessible argument for the likely non-existence of Jesus, try this site. The grammar is often execrable, and the language a bit tortuous, but it provides a good summary and starting point. But let's have some fun with The Christ Files.
Canto: Well, I couldn't bear to watch more than five minutes of the TV program, but I'm trying to recover a certain scholarly distance. The website claims that it is 'neither a work of fanciful scepticism nor of Christian propaganda'. As for the 'fanciful scepticism' dismissal, scepticism about Jesus is based on plenty of real problems. Firstly, if Jesus existed and drew all the crowds mentioned in the gospels, why is there not a single contemporary comment about him outside the gospels? Not even Philo Judaeus, a precise contemporary of Jesus who wrote extensively about Judaeism in Jerusalem at the time, makes any mention of this figure, presented as so towering in the gospels. There is no contemporary evidence of Jesus whatsoever. That's not fanciful scepticism, that's fact. Secondly, all of the more outlandish claims for Jesus link him to mythical figures of the past, such as Horus, Mithras and Hercules. There is more evidence that the Jesus persona was cobbled together from earlier myths than that he actually existed. There is no evidence, for example, of his trial or execution. And as for the 'Christian propaganda' denial, it so happens that Dr John Dickson, the author of The Christ Files, is the 'Director of the Centre for Public Christianity', somewhere in Australia. You could surely not get a more vested interest than that. If I was writing a satire on some dude pushing his religious barrow while claiming to be objective, I couldn't think of a more worthy public title for him than that.
Jacinta: Actually we'd be wary of using such a title, people would think we were being too heavy-handed.
Canto: Absolutely. Well our exuberant narrator and author, John Dickson, in a series of videos available online, tries to convince us of the authenticity of Jesus. First he tells us that two billion people believe in him, as if that counts for something.
Jacinta: Far less than two billion people believe in the theory of evolution. Must be a crock.
Canto: Yes, it's about evidence, not a popularity contest. He then goes on to talk about the message of Jesus and how it has transformed individual lives and modern culture. But just what is this message? Is there any coherent take home message from the gospels? I think not, and our companion at the new ussr has been examining the gospels painstakingly to see if he can uncover some clear moral message, but without much luck.

1 comment:

  1. no evidence of the existence of Jesus? I really didn't know that, maybe his was such a tiny cult that no one deigned to give him a mention