The Atheist Experience #338
I have heard the argument, used as the reason for a lack of of written evidence for the existance of Jesus out side of the bible, that (and I have heard this several times) people of the times did not have a way of writing or otherwise recording the evidence of Jesus’s existance. WTF? The story of Jesus it’s self mentions a census taken at the time of his birth. A census btw for which the Romans who were obsessed with record keeping fail to mention in their own records of the time. Secondly, Judaism by it’s very nature is one of the religions that actually encourages literacy and distains illiteracy.
Third, cuniform: “Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium”
Forth papyrus: Papyrus is first known to have been used in ancient Egypt (at least as far back as the First dynasty), but it was also used throughout the Mediterranean region.
Fifth, the bible it’s self mentions scrolls of the time and the interperatation of these scrolls by various members of the religious heiarchy. As a matter of fact, the mere existance of ANY texts from that period or before…say the entire old testament (the age of the “new testament” is still contested amongst CHRISTIAN theologins and scholars, much less non christian scholars) (I’m assuming here that you the reader knows that it was written as a ……wait for it…scroll) Proves this incorrect. Nobody was lugging around printing presses or laptop computers (either of which BTW would have still allowed for non verbal communication at a distance) . These scrolls were written on parchment ie very thinly shaved animal skins, with ink that in many cases has managed to survive for nearly two thousand years!
Sixth, the letters of Paul to the various churches scattered throughout the roman emire, clearly show that communication between vast geographical and idealogical differances was possible or alternately that it was written in a MUCH LATER time than it says that it was. Which is it?
Seven :Titus Flavius Josephus (37 – c. 100 A.D.), also called Joseph ben Matityahu (Biblical Hebrew:, (Yosef ben Matityahu), was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century CE and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 A.D.The surviving fragments of the writings by Josephus contain references of a Jewish sect led by “James the Just”, whom he calls the brother of Jesus. Josephus’ history includes sections on John the Baptist, the High Priest Annas, Pontius Pilate, and “Jesus called the Messiah”.
Another passage, the famous Testimonium Flavianum found in the Antiquities of the Jews 18.63-64, in its current form describes the ministry and death of Jesus in confessional terms; the authenticity of this passage remains contested by many scholars, and has been the topic of ongoing debate since the 17th century. Currently, the most widely held scholarly opinion, is that the Testimonium Flavianum is partially authentic; but that those words and phrases that correspond with standard Christian formulae are additions from a Christian copyist.
Some scholars suspect all these passages to be Christian interpolations, on the grounds that Josephus, who was a Pharisee and sympathetic to the Romans, would not have given such a glowing view of Jesus.
In those parts of the Testimonium that some scholars regarded as authentic, Jesus is described as a teacher and miracle worker, attracting a large following who revered him after his death. But, other than James, Josephus names none of the first-century founders of the Church such as St. Paul, St. Peter or any of the Twelve Apostles, nor does he refer to basic Christian doctrines, such as the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation or the Atonement, but these generally developed after the time of Josephus.
Regardless of whether or not you believe in the divinity of Jesus, regardless of whether or not you believe that portions of his (Josephus) texts were edited centuries later, and incorperated things which he never wrote. The merest fact that he wrote anything, EVER, proves that methods of communication were not limited to word of mouth alone.
On the concept of spreading truth by word of mouth alone….want to play a game of telephone? The end results look kind of like this….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YdD67LKPHY