Was Jesus An Illusionist / Magician?

OldTimeRadio

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QuaziWashboard said:
Question to any Christian believers amongst us;
Do you think that Simon Magus could actualy levitate (or had other magical powers) or do you think that it was probably a trick of some sort?
If Joseph of Coppertino could levitate, apparently through the power of God, why couldn't Simon Magus do it also, likely through some other power?

Or it may indeed have been a trick. What was the 1950s film where Jack Palance played Simon Magus using "flying gear"?

Since the entire Simon Magus "levitation" story is post-Biblical it's hardly a matter of faith. (For that matter, by no means everything IN the New Testament is salvation-dependent.)

P. S. I've met several modern-day Gnostics who believe that Jesus Christ was fictional/mythological but who fully accept the historicity of Simon Magus. Give me a break.
 

OldTimeRadio

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Gemaki said:
He said that if you had faith in Jesus back then, you most likely died because of it. A good argument for people saying that it was all a show.

He talked about how the Romans were seriously against Christians, and for people to die because they followed him was quite a sacrifice.
As Josh McDowell phrases it, "Why die for a lie?"

And I've never understood the argument that if a modern stage conjuror can re-create some event from the past, then the original event must have been fraudulent too.

Any good stage magician can "create light" Therefore Thomas Alva Edison must have been a confidence trickster and all his lightbulbs hoaxes.
 

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OldTimeRadio said:
As Josh McDowell phrases it, "Why die for a lie?"
Sadly, people die for all sorts of things they believe in (but which I don't).

The most obvious modern example is Muslim suicide bombers.

I don't believe (or even understand) what they claim to believe, or how they justify killing others along with themselves.

I don't believe early Christian martyrs either, although I do understand and sympathise with them to some extent.
 

OldTimeRadio

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rynner said:
Sadly, people die for all sorts of things they believe in (but which I don't).

The most obvious modern example is Muslim suicide bombers.

I don't believe (or even understand) what they claim to believe, or how they justify killing others along with themselves.

I don't believe early Christian martyrs either, although I do understand and sympathise with them to some extent.
I think we're talking at cross-purposes.

If the New Testament is accurate, several thousand people saw the living Christ during the weeks after the Resurrection.

It is those individuals who went forth and preached and who were unafraid of martyrdom. Plus one or two subsequent generations who'd heard the story from the original witnesses' lips, with the glory still on their words. (Indeed, these two millennia later they're still converting people.)

Yes, people are also willing to "martyr" themselves to evil (in defense of Third Reich, for example) but the connection of that to the above is tenuous at very best. It's like comparing red stockings to read newspapers.
 

rynner2

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OldTimeRadio said:
If the New Testament is accurate, several thousand people saw the living Christ during the weeks after the Resurrection.

It is those individuals who went forth and preached and who were unafraid of martyrdom. .
If the New Testament is accurate...

Therein lies the rub.

I can think of many interpretations of the NT which don't subscribe to the Son of God/Resurrection scenario, but which involve varying amounts of human cunning, wishful thinking, spin-doctoring, and so forth. Just looking at what goes on in the modern world reveals many parallels to the reports from the NT and other ancient history.

Just to address the interests of this board, we can't decide the truth of many things, like what UFOs are, or how the WTC towers fell, why we invaded Iraq, etc, even though many of these things have occured mostly within our own lifetimes.

History reveals all too often how politicians of all stripes have said one thing while doing another. So if we can't be sure of the truth in the world around us now, how can we judge the world of 2,000 years ago? Thus I sit in a state of Fortean acceptance that there is much we may never know, even if we can think of many different 'explanations'.

It is those individuals who went forth and preached...

But somehow they failed to convert most of the Jews in Israel of the truth of their new Messiah, Jews who were keen to believe, but who, perhaps, were too close to the action at the time to believe the version of the story that was easier to accept by people in distant lands and later times.

A lot of people in modern times have devoutly believed in some charismatic preacher, only to find that they have been convinced to participate in a mass suicide to hasten their access to heaven. Or maybe they have given money to TV evangalists, who are later revealed as conmen and hypocrits.

So belief in itself, however sincere, proves nothing to me. I just have to say that, with what I know of history, science, and human nature, some things are more probable than others. I try to build a consistent interpretation if I can, but if I can't, well, I am a Fortean after all!
 

QuaziWashboard

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Gemaki said:
They had a magician try to walk on water, multiply food, and whatnot... he said he couldn't do it, and doubted that Jesus could fake those things.
So he's either not a very good magician, because I've seen other magicians re-create the miracles, or he's someone who really wants us to believe that only Jesus could have done these things.

OldTimeRadio said:
Gemaki said:
He said that if you had faith in Jesus back then, you most likely died because of it. A good argument for people saying that it was all a show.

He talked about how the Romans were seriously against Christians, and for people to die because they followed him was quite a sacrifice.
As Josh McDowell phrases it, "Why die for a lie?"

And I've never understood the argument that if a modern stage conjuror can re-create some event from the past, then the original event must have been fraudulent too.

Any good stage magician can "create light" Therefore Thomas Alva Edison must have been a confidence trickster and all his lightbulbs hoaxes.
The problem that arises with that analogy is that we know how Edison made a light bulb. He took technology developed by Sir Humphry Davy, Warren De la Rue, Frederick de Moleyns, Heinrich Gobel and Joseph Wilson Swan and improved on them. We have his designs and we have his examples to tell us exactly how he did it, but nobody is about to claim that there was any magic or miracle involved because it's all good science. But when a man does seemingly impossible things that go against the laws of physics and all common sense, then that takes a little more believing, especialy when someone comes along and re-creates those same 'seemingly impossible' things without the use of real magic or miracles.
Nowadays, when we see a magician performing tricks we may not know just how they did it, but we know that there are plenty of people who do know how it's done and because of this knowledge, we're entertained, but NOT fooled into thinking we've just witnessed some sort of miraculous event. Unfortunately, 2000 years ago that same knowledge wasn't anywhere near as available and widespread as it is today. You couldn't go to a library and pick out a book that told you how to do magic tricks and professional magicians didn't go on TV (or any other public media) and show or even hint at how it was done.
Back then, people were a lot more ready to believe that what they were seeing really was magic and unfortunately, it's either the testimony of these people or the testimony of Christ's group of personal friends (and therefore probably in on the act) that has survived as a historic account of what happened at the time. It's only in the last two or three hundred years that illusionists have stopped claiming that what they do is real magic, (and even so, a few still do, and some are even believed by a small number of people to have real magical powers) but two thousand years of a religion spreading half way around the world and the subsequent instilling into the minds of the religious that the miracles of Christ were real are a little harder to turn around.
By all accounts, from the times of Christ and slightly previously, trying to pass oneself off as a prophet or 'The Messiah' seemed to be quite a fashionable thing to do because there were literally loads of them around. They all had their followers, some more than others because some had better tricks than others, and they were all trying to outdo each other in the magic department, but it wasn't until a cirtain carpenter's son (ironically enough, carpentry is an essential skill needed when building a lot of modern illusionist's props) came along with the really big trick of resurrection from a public death by crucifixion that everyone and his dog sat up and took notice.
So why would Christ go through all that suffering and pain if it was just a trick? Well, because he had an ideal. He was a man living in a country that was occupied by foreign, tyrannical forces. He has been rumoured to be a rabbi and a revolutionary and as such would have been prepaired to die for his cause. But if his survival of something like crucifixion could trigger his people to unite and rally behind a single cause, then the risk was worth it.
Today, many stage illusionists live by the mantra 'No Permanent Harm Done.' That basicaly means that yes, this trick is gonna hurt like hell and it might take a while to recover and heal from it but if it's spectacular enough, and there's no permanent harm done to me, it'll be worth it. Christ could go one further because he had a cause, he was probably quite willing to die if it all went wrong but luckily, it worked.
He hung on the cross for three hours, a relatively short time but long enough to be seen genuinely suffering before being administered something to knock him out cold by one of his assistants. They managed to avoid him having his legs broken (which he would have survived anyway, it just would have taken longer to heal) but instead he was speared through one of only four areas of the torso that wouldn't do any damage to any internal organs (the four being both shoulders and both sides of the waist) to 'prove' he was dead (which we know he couldn't have been because the accounts say he bled, which isn't supposed to happen when the heart has stopped) by someone who apparently became one of his followers (or was he already a follower?) and was then placed immediately in a sealed tomb, away from prying eyes that just happened to be made available to him right there next to the crucifixion site.
A few days later he's well enough to walk after secretly being looked after in the sealed tomb and a legend is born.
Of couse this is all theory and speculation for which there is no 'proof' of it happening this way, but in that respect neither is their 'proof' that He actually died and was miraculuosly resurrected, and at least this theory is more believable because it stays within the physical possabilities known to modern science.....but it really does make you wonder if history would have been different if the execution carried out was something like beheading.
Another explanation could be that it went wrong and he actualy died for real and was then replaced by a double. After all, how many people would actualy know what Christ really looked like before the days of photography or even realistic portraits. And who was it that first said they'd seen him resurected? The same guys who followed him around in life of course.
Both these theories explain why Jesus was suddenly 'betrayed' by someone who was said to be closer to Jesus than most others, Judas. It was all part of the deception....the latter may explain why he hung himself out of a sense of guilt too.
 

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My point was that they got a magician's opinion on performing these feats, and he said it would be near impossible to fake walking on the same water where Jesus was seen. If you've seen this done, why not just say so?

Actually the earlier comments about the things he did being tricks is one of the least interesting things about all this to me. Like Rynner said, we'll never know exactly what happened, but it sure is interesting. What appeals to me the most are all the references to 'the heavens' and 'glory from above'... I'm letting my mind open.
 

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QuaziWashboard said:
Gemaki said:
They had a magician try to walk on water, multiply food, and whatnot... he said he couldn't do it, and doubted that Jesus could fake those things.
So he's either not a very good magician, because I've seen other magicians re-create the miracles, or he's someone who really wants us to believe that only Jesus could have done these things.
not quite. The magicians you're talking about don't recreate the conditions. So it's not "re-creating" the miracles.
 

QuaziWashboard

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Gemaki said:
My point was that they got a magician's opinion on performing these feats, and he said it would be near impossible to fake walking on the same water where Jesus was seen. If you've seen this done, why not just say so?
I've never seen the walking on water feat performed on the same water, but I've seen it done on different water which proves the principle that it's possible to do. As I said earlier, the only people to see the walking on water miracle were His own disciples, make of that what you will.
Gemaki said:
Actually the earlier comments about the things he did being tricks is one of the least interesting things about all this to me. Like Rynner said, we'll never know exactly what happened, but it sure is interesting. What appeals to me the most are all the references to 'the heavens' and 'glory from above'... I'm letting my mind open.
Agreed. We can never know for cirtain what really happened back then, but we can make make a fairly good assumption of what probably couldn't have happened based on the known laws of physics.
 

QuaziWashboard

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ghostdog19 said:
QuaziWashboard said:
Gemaki said:
They had a magician try to walk on water, multiply food, and whatnot... he said he couldn't do it, and doubted that Jesus could fake those things.
So he's either not a very good magician, because I've seen other magicians re-create the miracles, or he's someone who really wants us to believe that only Jesus could have done these things.
not quite. The magicians you're talking about don't recreate the conditions. So it's not "re-creating" the miracles.
If you've had any experience with stage magicians, you'll know that there are very few actual tricks. They are all just different variations of these same few tricks so you don't actually need to recreate the actual conditions to prove the principles of the trick. Besides, none of us were there at the time and there is very little written down to describe the actual conditions during any of the miracles so how is anyone going to go about recreating the conditions? Plus, the whole point of illusion is to control the conditions without anyone noticing.
 

ghostdog19

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QuaziWashboard said:
there is very little written down to describe the actual conditions during any of the miracles
Actually here's one such condition described in the bible. Example:

Mathew 14 (KING JAMES VERSION) said:
24But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
The magic tricks are performed on still water. some in studios in fish tanks even as previously mentioned and discussed. They're not actually 're-creating' anything.

EDIT TO SORT QUOTE
 

QuaziWashboard

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ghostdog19 said:
QuaziWashboard said:
there is very little written down to describe the actual conditions during any of the miracles
Actually here's one such condition described in the bible. Example:

Taken from Mathew 14 of the King James version:

24But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
The magic tricks are performed on still water. some in studios in fish tanks even as previously mentioned and discussed. They're not actually 're-creating' anything.
And as I mentioned earlier, that's one of the few miracles that was only witnessed by his own desciples and no one else, but if you want to take their word for it, fine.
 

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QuaziWashboard said:
....we can make make a fairly good assumption of what probably couldn't have happened based on the known laws of physics.
I don't mean to offend. But it is precisely as a Fortean (forget all about religion for the moment) that I cannot accept such a view of a lock-step tick-tock physics.
 

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ghostdog19 said:
Christianity's prominence, historically speaking, wasn't divine, it was political.
You could well be right. So you should be able to name me other carpenters from dusty little one-horse edge-of-the-desert towns who made it even half so big.
 

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QuaziWashboard said:
....was only witnessed by his own desciples and no one else, but if you want to take their word for it, fine.
Most of these guys were willing to suffer martyrdom in defending the truth of what they'd seen.

I guess they were all just Certifiable Loonies.
 

QuaziWashboard

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ghostdog19 said:
The point I was making was with regard to magic tricks being a 're-creation of a miracle' when they don't take into account any of the conditions that we know of. A bit like, as I've mentioned before, making da vinci's inventions with modern technology. If they followed what information we have of the period and using those self same methods or tools etc... that'd be recreation. But modern magicians don't do that, obviously, so it's not 're-creating miracles' as such. More, taking a modern magic trick, with all the benefits of modern technology and saying 'look, a jesus miracle.' That's more a gimmick than re-creation of a miracle (they don't even attempt to recreate it... so it's just showbiz schtik really). Again, assuming this is a claim made by magicians. A good example of where magicians have in the past 're-created' old magic tricks is 'the indian rope trick' (I think that was an Arena special, though I may well be wrong... camp fire, the works employed to pull of the stunt and not using modern methods). So, with the indian rope trick in mind, I think it'd be pretty cool if someone actually 'properly' attempted to re-create said miracles. Not just took an existing magic trick and tarted it up a bit (example, the walking in water in a fish tank routine).
The oldest known magic trick that we know of is the cup and ball trick. It was performed by Roman conjurers as far back as two thousand years ago and there's even a reference to it in pictograms in an ancient Egyptian building that goes back even further. It's a traditional trick that to this very day is still performed on the streets of Egypt by gali gali men. There are a few different versions of this trick but the most widely performed version uses three wide-mouthed cups and three small balls. The magician makes the balls pass through the solid bottoms of the cups, jump from cup to cup, disappear from the cup and appear in other places, or vanish from various places and reappear under the cups. The trick frequently ends with larger objects, like fruit, larger balls or sometimes even live chicks appearing in the cups in place of the balls. Originaly, the trick was done with ordinary looking little pot cups and balls made of stone and still is by traditionalists, but others use tin cups or plastic cups or ornate china cups. Sometimes they use metal balls or plastic balls or sponge balls or ping pong balls, I've even seen the same trick done using three tennis balls and three buckets. Penn and Teller use clear plastic cups but their hands move so fast, you just don't have a chance of seeing how it's done.
My point is, the props change, the location changes from street to stage, but the trick essentialy stays the same. The conditions don't really matter because any magician worth his salt can adapt a trick to almost any condition.
This isn't some scientific experiment we're on about here, where the exact conditions have to be recreated in order to check that you get the same results as the first experiment, it's conjuring. The sleight of hand is the all important factor here, the ability to convince the audience that they've just seen something different from what actually happened and make them believe they've just witnessed something that would seem impossible, not the props used.
Take the rope trick you mentioned. I know of three main ways that it can be done. One is suitable for street or stage, one is suitable for a stage with a trapdoor, one is suitable for a stage with overhead gantries. All can be mixed and matched to give slightly different effects, but the trick essentialy remains the same.
Do you know why the walking on water trick was done in a fish tank? So you could see what was going on under the water. Believe it or not, that's probably harder to set up than it would be on a choppy stretch of murky water where you can't see what's going on under the water.
 

QuaziWashboard

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OldTimeRadio said:
QuaziWashboard said:
....we can make make a fairly good assumption of what probably couldn't have happened based on the known laws of physics.
I don't mean to offend. But it is precisely as a Fortean (forget all about religion for the moment) that I cannot accept such a view of a lock-step tick-tock physics.
No offence taken mate.
That's why as a Fortean I say 'assumption' instead of 'we know for a fact' and 'known' laws of physics instead of simply 'the' laws of physics.
Nothing is cirtain but applied knowledge can point us in a likely direction. To me, Forteanism is simply the study of the strange and unusual, but part of that study is to hypothesise how the seemingly strange and unusual can be explained using known laws of physics and other sciences. This generaly brings in a level of probablity and occasionaly uncovers the actual facts or even hoaxes, but anything that can't be explained is purely Fortean.

OldTimeRadio said:
QuaziWashboard said:
....was only witnessed by his own desciples and no one else, but if you want to take their word for it, fine.
Most of these guys were willing to suffer martyrdom in defending the truth of what they'd seen.

I guess they were all just Certifiable Loonies.
Or they could have been willing to suffer martydom because they had a cause. Remember, the Jews were expecting a messiah, my theory is that the desciples, led by Jesus wanted to give them their messiah in order to encourage the people to rise up against the Romans. I'm not talking about magic tricks just to entertain people just to achieve fame but a way of encouraging a downtrodden people into rebelion. What I'm saying is, if that was their main goal, then the ends justify the means. One way or another they had to get everyone thinking that Jesus was the messiah. In this case a bit of creative story telling and rumour spreading can be just as effective as staged 'miracles', especialy when mixed with the staged miracles to make the claims look more authentic. People would say 'Well I saw him do some amazing things so he probably could walk on water, as they say he did, too!'
These were desperate people willing to do anything to free their country.
 

QuaziWashboard

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Y'know folks, another thought has just occured as to how Jesus could have survived crucifiction. (Which he had to do because that's what he said he was going to do) What if it wasn't actualy Christ on the cross? The Romans cirtainly didn't know what he looked like because they had to get Judas to identify him. (making Judas an accessory to the subterfuge instead of a traitor)
It'd be the easiest way to fake his death after all and as I theorise that any one of Christ's desciples would be willing to die for the cause, as much as islamic terrorists are now and kamikaze pilots were in WW2, then this is a possability.
 

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:lol: Point taken.

I still can't figure out why all the concern with magic tricks, though. There seems to be this false dichotomy that EITHER Jesus performed a bunch of honest-to-gosh miracles, OR he did a bunch of magic tricks to fool people, whether for a good cause or a bad one. There's a LOT of middle ground.

As I've been trying to point out, many Christians with a very serious faith commitment don't care whether Jesus performed any miracles or not - some don't even care if he was "really" resurrected. So coming up with all these theories about how he faked this or that does nothing at all to help explain the movement that has followed him for 2,000 years. After all, we have no way to know whether the very first Christians believed he did all those miracles, anyway.

[ETA: by "very first Christians," I don't mean second-century. I mean the folks who had hung out with Jesus, and their generation. After all, the Gospels weren't written till at least the second generation of Christians were around.]
 

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QuaziWashboard said:
What if it wasn't actualy Christ on the cross?
I believe that's the standard Muslim view.
 

QuaziWashboard

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decipheringscars said:
:lol: Point taken.
I still can't figure out why all the concern with magic tricks, though. There seems to be this false dichotomy that EITHER Jesus performed a bunch of honest-to-gosh miracles, OR he did a bunch of magic tricks to fool people, whether for a good cause or a bad one. There's a LOT of middle ground.
I can't figure out your concern with us discussing this subject.
Why discuss it at all? Because it's interesting, if it's boring you, just say so and leave the subject alone, then it won't annoy you as much.
Personally I can't see any middle ground. (apart from maybe the miracles didn't happen at all) Either the miracles were real, or they were fake, in which case they were magic tricks. If you have any alternative theories for something that falls between these two I'd be very interested to hear them.
decipheringscars said:
As I've been trying to point out, many Christians with a very serious faith commitment don't care whether Jesus performed any miracles or not - some don't even care if he was "really" resurrected. So coming up with all these theories about how he faked this or that does nothing at all to help explain the movement that has followed him for 2,000 years. After all, we have no way to know whether the very first Christians believed he did all those miracles, anyway.
The way I see it, some form of miracles must have happened, whether real or otherwise, in order for people to start following Jesus and believing him to be the messiah in the first place. After all, there were plenty of other people around who claimed to be prophets or messiahs at about the same time so why else would they choose Jesus to follow over them? It was supposed to be the seemingly impossible miracles He did that made people sit up and take notice of what he had to say, which eventualy triggered the beginnings of a new religion called Christianity.

Without the miracles he would have just seemed like another preacher with some good ideals about how we treat our fellow man, of which there were plenty before Christ and there's been plenty since, so to me, and I suspect to quite a few others, the miracles are vitaly central to the 'explain the movement that has followed Him for 2,000 years.'

So, erm....If rynner's time viewer were to actualy exist, and we knew for cirtain that it could provide the truth of the matter one way or the other, would you use it to go back and witness the life of Christ? Or would you prefer it to remain a mystery?
 

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decipheringscars said:
I still can't figure out why all the concern with magic tricks, though. There seems to be this false dichotomy that EITHER Jesus performed a bunch of honest-to-gosh miracles, OR he did a bunch of magic tricks to fool people, whether for a good cause or a bad one. There's a LOT of middle ground.
Well, Quazi's pointed out a few times now that it's just a pet theory of his and that it's not meant to cause any offense. As for motives of someone 'fooling people'... I don't believe we've even got on to that yet, but I don't think that's really what Quazi's theory is all about. It's just simply the suggestion that he could well have been a magician if the miracles he performed were performed at all.
decipheringscars said:
As I've been trying to point out, many Christians with a very serious faith commitment don't care whether Jesus performed any miracles or not - some don't even care if he was "really" resurrected.
If you check the thread over you'll notice that's been covered a couple of times (I recall mention of the important aspect which is the relevance of the teachings). Nobody here is trying to say it's irrelevant I don't think. Personally, I don't believe it's relevant whether he physically existed or not as I believe it's the story itself that is more important. I personally think he survived print as a legend in much the same manner as Robin has done to this day. We all know Robin Hood is fictional, but still you'll find record of a guy who vaguely fits the picture from the period and you'll even find historical data supporting his possible existence outside of fiction by those that would like to think the stories were about a real guy. That he's real or not... who cares? It's a great story, people remember it, and to some it's more relevant than to others. Likewise King Arthur. But that doesn't mean that the bible is irrelevant, or that Christianity is under any threat. Nonsense. Is Morte De Arthur irrelevant? Or Robin Hood for that matter (I suppose it is if you watch the BBC adaptation... eek!!).
decipheringscars said:
So coming up with all these theories about how he faked this or that does nothing at all to help explain the movement that has followed him for 2,000 years.
See, "faked" is your contribution. We're just discussing 'explanations' via a 'non-spiritual' route. Which I think beats hands down just saying 'it's all made up nonsense for no rhyme nor reason'.
 

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QuaziWashboard said:
So, erm....If rynner's time viewer were to actualy exist, and we knew for cirtain that it could provide the truth of the matter one way or the other, would you use it to go back and witness the life of Christ? Or would you prefer it to remain a mystery?
There was a comedian, I think it may have been Tommy Teirnan (spl?) who was saying that in all likelyhood Jesus probably looked a lot like Danny Devito than the handsome bearded (and very western looking) chap we see in all the iconography. I think if I had Rynner's acme time viewer, I wouldn't peek. I hate it when they print a picture of the author on the back or inside sleeve of hardback books, know what I mean? Ruins it for me. Like when I found out what Iain Banks looks like after I'd read Wasp Factory. Just wasn't the same for me after that.

:)
 

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ghostdog19 said:
QuaziWashboard said:
So, erm....If rynner's time viewer were to actualy exist, and we knew for cirtain that it could provide the truth of the matter one way or the other, would you use it to go back and witness the life of Christ? Or would you prefer it to remain a mystery?
There was a comedian, I think it may have been Tommy Teirnan (spl?) who was saying that in all likelyhood Jesus probably looked a lot like Danny Devito than the handsome bearded (and very western looking) chap we see in all the iconography. I think if I had Rynner's acme time viewer, I wouldn't peek. I hate it when they print a picture of the author on the back or inside sleeve of hardback books, know what I mean? Ruins it for me. Like when I found out what Iain Banks looks like after I'd read Wasp Factory. Just wasn't the same for me after that.

:)
Terry Pratchett was my disappointment.
This genius who writes about wizards and heroes and huge stone trolls and golems and Death and even the gods....turns out to be this weedy looking, short sighted guy with a lisp in a hat that's supposed to look cool but just doesn't suit him, and as for his guest appearence in the TV adaptation of The Hogfather, well the guy can write but he sure can't act.

Personaly, I would go back in time to witness the life of Christ, mainly because I'm curious, but also...well if someone like Christ were to turn up today claiming to be able to perform honest to goodness miracles, hardly anyone in their right mind would invest any faith in him without any actual proof that he can indeed do what he says without any trickery being involved. To do otherwise or accept someone as the messiah without any miracles...well we might as well accept that David Icke really is the new messiah and bow down and pray to him now.
The majority of people nowadays are pretty sceptical about magical powers compaired to the people of 2000 years ago. Which makes you wonder, if the second coming of Christ actualy happened, would anybody notice?
 

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decipheringscars said:
Yes, I was the one who mentioned the relevance of his teachings, which you vaguely recall.
Actually, it's feen5's post that I was vaguely recalling.
decipheringscars said:
To clear things up: I'm not offended by anything anyone's posting here.
That's all that matters to me. Glad to hear it.
 

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QuaziWashboard said:
The majority of people nowadays are pretty sceptical about magical powers compaired to the people of 2000 years ago. Which makes you wonder, if the second coming of Christ actualy happened, would anybody notice?
That's assuming people back then were that naive. One of the historians Old Time Radio mentioned (the fella who wrote about the great fire of Rome... forgotten his name now at this late hour) actually referred to the Christians as "superstitious". So clearly there were those who saw it as a load of old cobblers even then (and that's not implying that it was).
 

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ghostdog19 said:
decipheringscars said:
To clear things up: I'm not offended by anything anyone's posting here.
That's all that matters to me. Glad to hear it.
Oh, rats, so we're NOT going to have any burnings at the stake?
 

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OldTimeRadio said:
ghostdog19 said:
decipheringscars said:
To clear things up: I'm not offended by anything anyone's posting here.
That's all that matters to me. Glad to hear it.
Oh, rats, so we're NOT going to have any burnings at the stake?
Well, I'm fresh out of marshmallows, so that wouldn't be much fun. But I'm sure I can rustle up some lions. ;)
 

QuaziWashboard

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decipheringscars said:
ghostdog19 said:
decipheringscars said:
I still can't figure out why all the concern with magic tricks, though. There seems to be this false dichotomy that EITHER Jesus performed a bunch of honest-to-gosh miracles, OR he did a bunch of magic tricks to fool people, whether for a good cause or a bad one. There's a LOT of middle ground.
Well, Quazi's pointed out a few times now that it's just a pet theory of his and that it's not meant to cause any offense. As for motives of someone 'fooling people'... I don't believe we've even got on to that yet, but I don't think that's really what Quazi's theory is all about. It's just simply the suggestion that he could well have been a magician if the miracles he performed were performed at all.
decipheringscars said:
As I've been trying to point out, many Christians with a very serious faith commitment don't care whether Jesus performed any miracles or not - some don't even care if he was "really" resurrected.
If you check the thread over you'll notice that's been covered a couple of times (I recall mention of the important aspect which is the relevance of the teachings). Nobody here is trying to say it's irrelevant I don't think. Personally, I don't believe it's relevant whether he physically existed or not as I believe it's the story itself that is more important. I personally think he survived print as a legend in much the same manner as Robin has done to this day. We all know Robin Hood is fictional, but still you'll find record of a guy who vaguely fits the picture from the period and you'll even find historical data supporting his possible existence outside of fiction by those that would like to think the stories were about a real guy. That he's real or not... who cares? It's a great story, people remember it, and to some it's more relevant than to others. Likewise King Arthur. But that doesn't mean that the bible is irrelevant, or that Christianity is under any threat. Nonsense. Is Morte De Arthur irrelevant? Or Robin Hood for that matter (I suppose it is if you watch the BBC adaptation... eek!!).
decipheringscars said:
So coming up with all these theories about how he faked this or that does nothing at all to help explain the movement that has followed him for 2,000 years.
See, "faked" is your contribution. We're just discussing 'explanations' via a 'non-spiritual' route. Which I think beats hands down just saying 'it's all made up nonsense for no rhyme nor reason'.
Yes, I was the one who mentioned the relevance of his teachings, which you vaguely recall. Actually, I was pointing more to the deeper meanings of the stories, which is slightly different from the relevance of his teachings. His teachings, after all, really weren't anything new - they mirror much of the contemporary (to him) rabbinical teaching. The stories about Jesus really are meant to illustrate the Reign of God (as opposed to the reign of, say, Caesar), and to point to his person, which is interpreted by the New Testament anyway as the decisive in-breaking of that Reign of God within human history. In other words, it's not something totally relegated to the eschaton.
So it's the teachings, which were already around at the time, that are important, not nessecarily the fact of whether Jesus existed or not?

decipheringscars said:
And since it's been asked twice now, I suppose I might use the time-travelling machine to go see Jesus' life, although it might not be the first thing on my list. It's not that I prefer to "leave it all a mystery," as in, "Oooh, what if I don't see what I'm expecting? My faith might be shaken, and that prospect scares me!" It's that I really can't imagine what I might see that would threaten my faith - not because I'm stubborn and won't let the facts interfere with what I believe - quite the contrary. It's that my faith can encompass a wide range of possibilities about the facts.
So it wouldn't matter to you if Jesus didn't actualy exist?

decipheringscars said:
And whether Jesus existed does matter if you believe he was the incarnation of God, which not all Christians believe anymore, but the majority do .
Ah so it does matter whether he existed or not.

decipheringscars said:
All I'm trying to say is that what I'm reading on this thread sounds to me like this:

  • The people who wrote the Gospels recorded miracles performed by Jesus. Therefore, either (1) they really happened and were miracles, or (2) they really happened but were magic tricks, or (3) the Gospellers made it all up for no reason.
and
  • People believed in or followed Jesus. Therefore, either (1) they were inspired to do so by witnessing or hearing about his actual miracles, or (2) they were fooled by his magic tricks, or (3) they were fooled by fictional reports of miracles.

Is that an unfair assessment? And I'm trying to throw in other options - in part because knowing they exist should inform your discussion, even if you still choose to limit it to a certain set of assumptions.


Yes, that's a pretty fair assessment, apart from '(3) the Gospellers made it all up for no reason.'
There had to be a reason, unless they really wanted to make the fiction bestsellers list, which I don't think was around at the time. Whether that reason was to record the events of a historical character or whether it was simply a new way of passing on the teachings that were already around in a story telling mode, similar to Aesop's fables.
Personaly I believe he was a real person. I just think that it's more likely that he existed than not, simply because of the scale of the following He gained at the time. Call it a feeling. The facts are, it's not something I, or anyone else for that matter, can prove or disprove, so I have to deal in likelyhood and probability. To me, in all likelyhood, I don't think he had supernatural powers because I believe that to be impossible.
As I think you're saying, in this day and age, whether he existed or not or whether he performed real miracles or not shouldn't really make any difference to the message, the actual 'teachings of Christ.' The teachings are, after all, good sound advise about your way of life, your surroundings and your morals and are as relevent today as they ever were.

decipheringscars said:
That said, I do think finding Jesus performing magic tricks might be a bit off-putting, but then again, maybe not. I mean, why can't God incarnate have a hobby? ;)
My sentiments exactly.
decipheringscars said:
To clear things up: I'm not offended by anything anyone's posting here. It's actually pretty hard to offend me. I've just been trying to poke at the "either/or" thinking a little bit. If that's a bit too advanced for this discussion, I can stop. ;)
Glad to hear it. I'd hate to think that I could cause offence simply by writing about what I 'believe' may have been nearer the truth of the matter than what is recorded in the only written accounts we have to go on.

As far as the middle ground between "either" and the "or" is concerned, if you have any theories regarding this, I'd be interested to hear them.

Everyone has differing views on the subject one way or another but I think we might be starting to find some middle ground here.
Although I must admit to being a little offended (not a lot, just a little) that you seem to be commenting about my posts with other members of this message board without actualy directing any of your comments directly towards me. I am here y'know. Honestly, you'd think they never taught anyone manners at Sunday school. ;)
 

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QuaziWashboard said:
Although I must admit to being a little offended (not a lot, just a little) that you seem to be commenting about my posts with other members of this message board without actualy directing any of your comments directly towards me. I am here y'know. Honestly, you'd think they never taught anyone manners at Sunday school. ;)
Sorry, who did you say you were again? ;)
 
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