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The time has come to admit Jesus wasn't white!

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Could we possibly close this thread as it appears to be one atheist harping on and on and on about the existence of Jesus .
I agree with @Starfire . I don't see any bad language or insults, or any reason why the thread should be closed. The discussion is open to anyone including atheists, with both supporting and opposing opinions. If you don't agree, it's best to ignore the thread, or not look at it. As for people repeating things, yes, that happens a lot on the forum in general - I do it, you do it, it's an ASD forum, some people have strong opinions and one can expect this.
 
On the contrary pjcnet, eye witnesses in those times were much more reliable, as there was greater dependency on the spoken than the written word. And as for modern day doctors, they are merely drug pushers, whereas traditional healers had to have a much broader scope of knowledge and skills. Anyway, they were respected enough to have their testimonies bear weight.

Paranormal activity is demonic joke taking. I encountered these before I became a Christian and they were nothing like the encounter with the Divine. This encounter leaves us totally changed wioth our spiritual eyes opened and truths revealed and especially regarding interpretation of scripture which is impossible without the Holy Spirit's revelations.

There have been countless cases of people having this encounter yet they have had no previous knowledge of Christianity even on isolated islands where no missionary has stepped, and they all 'know' the same person of Jesus Christ and understand clearly the scriptures that the unsaved cannot possibly understand, along with the so called contradictions.

Please read the following book:

"Written by an L. A. County homicide detective and former atheist, Cold-Case Christianity examines the claims of the New Testament using the skills and strategies of a hard-to-convince criminal investigator. Christianity could be defined as a "cold case" it makes a claim about an event from the distant past for which there is little forensic evidence. In Cold-Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace uses his nationally recognized skills as a homicide detective to look at the evidence and eyewitnesses behind Christian beliefs. Including gripping stories from his career and the visual techniques he developed in the courtroom, Wallace uses illustration to examine the powerful evidence that validates the claims of Christianity. A unique apologetic that speaks to readers' intense interest in detective stories, Cold-Case Christianity inspires readers to have confidence in Christ as it prepares them to articulate the case for Christianity."

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1434704696/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
With so many generations past in around 2000 years you really cannot confirm eye witness reports or even trust anything that was written from so long ago, it most definitely can't be described as reliable and I will have to agree to disagree, also a healer's knowledge of the human body really was extremely limited 2000 years ago and we don't even know for a fact he was a healer, there are so many possible flaws in these stories as well as contradictions as I've already said.

Christians are often only open to one thing and that is what the Bible says even though it was written by various different human beings, but if everyone followed the Bible to the tee they'd still be murdering women suspected of practising magic (often referred to as witchcraft). I have never come across anything proven demonic despite spending years trying to communicate with alleged spirits and the main reason people probably think this is because the Bible is against it and some people are frightened of the unknown, especially when they watch fake TV programmes and horror movies. I've come across what have felt like extremely unpleasant energies and it's been quite intense, although nothing I haven't been able to handle and I've actually still enjoyed the experience, but there's also been pleasant energies and nothing has ever been able to physically to harm me. Just because something is so far not fully explained, it doesn't mean it's evil or demonic, if you showed someone 2000 years ago a modern LED torch they'd most likely think that was demonic too.

The book you mention is obviously written by an individual who has been converted to Christianity and will be incredibly biased towards one thing. Religions are often like a tribe and members are often obsessed over trying to get others to be indoctrinated too, hence how a religion sells itself. People who strictly follow religions that are based mostly on faith alone often desperately want to believe and they will convince themselves that any possible tiny shred of evidence is definite proof even if it's extremely poor or even non existent. Then there's other religions that don't follow Jesus where followers are just as convinced that their version of the "truth" is real and everyone else is then apparently completely misinformed, they can't all be right and I suspect they're all at least mostly wrong.

I once had a very devoted Christian lady tell me that I should immediately stop seeking any spirit except the "holy spirit", claiming that anything else is demonic and evil. She then said to me that she could make me feel the power of God and that I'd be amazed. To make it fair I did everything I could to open my mind, but unlike most people I am also very careful not to be influenced by autosuggestion and to keep a clear head. She put her hands on me and said a prayer, I can't remember exactly what she said, but I was apparently supposed to feel the power of God's love which the prayer asked for, she said that everyone she'd done this with felt something and that it changed people's lives. Well I can honestly say that I felt absolutely nothing, she was quite taken aback and told me that I would probably feel it later which I also didn't. I strongly suspect that everyone else was influenced by strong autosuggestion, they expected to feel something, most probably wanted to feel something and therefore convinced themselves that they did, many of them will then be convinced that they've witnessed definite proof of God and/or Jesus when they haven't.

The people who allegedly saw Christ with no knowledge of Christianity, did they actually come forward and say something like "I have just met Jesus Christ"? I very much doubt it, well not unless they'd been told the name first or knew what to expect. Even if they had an encounter it's more likely that someone else then claimed to them that it must have been Jesus Christ because that's what they want to believe. Well I can say that I've meditated on masses of occasions in the past and I can safely say that Jesus Christ is one person I've most certainly never come across. Even if I ever did have an encounter with someone who called himself Jesus, I would want a lot more proof than his word.
 
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a healer's knowledge of the human body really was extremely limited 2000 years ago

I don't think so. Have you studied Traditional Chinese Medicine? Still thought highly of today by some medically trained doctors.

if everyone followed the Bible to the tee they'd still be murdering women suspected of practising magic (often referred to as witchcraft).

There are various genres in the Bible and not all to be taken literally. Especially the old Jewish ceremonial law which was abolished with Christ.

I have never come across anything proven demonic despite spending years trying to communicate with alleged spirits

They conceal their true identity.

People who strictly follow religions that are based mostly on faith alone often desperately want to believe and they will convince themselves that any possible tiny shred of evidence is definite proof even if it's extremely poor or even non existent.

Not so. Not as far as Christianity is concerned, and it is different to all the others in that it teaches that man must perform rituals etc to be acceepted by God. A true Christian is never desperate to prove to himself or others that it is the truth. The reason for evangelism is to save the souls of the lost.

I once had a very devoted Christian lady tell me that I should immediately stop seeking any spirit except the "holy spirit", claiming that anything else is demonic and evil. She then said to me that she could make me feel the power of God and that I'd be amazed.

Well I question her assertion but if it was true then your past will have a hold on your spirit and it will be mucu harder for you to be saved.

The people who allegedly saw Christ with no knowledge of Christianity, did they actually come forward and say something like "I have just met Jesus Christ"?

What happened was that missionaries arrived and told them the gospel and they already knew it and that Jesus had taught them directly.
 
I have no idea why you referenced my post with yours, as they seem to have nothing in common, either in agreeance or contradiction. With all respect meant; I often scroll past other posts to get to yours.

I very well know that the bible has multiple authors and that not every story is true. I suspected that before the historians told me:). But why throw out the baby with the dirty bath water? I know what a hypocritical "christian" is like. I personally do believe the Adam and Eve story, at least a version of it. Indont believe, however, that Moses existed, at least as outlined in the Bible, but that doesnt mean that somebody like him didn't exist, or that it wasn't a prophecy. They say tha part was written during the Babylonian captivity. Who wouldn't want a exodus-style historical leader during period of slavery?

You are right, the Bible has crazy contradictions :).

The Christian New Testament and the Hebrew Old are very different.

I think that Jesus' historicity is rather set in stone. Josephus was a Romanicized Jew and had no ideological reason to fabricate his existence. He was the authority of his time.




I don't think that, the Bible was written by multiple authors that were all human beings and some of the Bible is even an ancient outdated law book, but you'd think the Bible was written by God by the way some people follow absolutely everything that's written and even try to live their life by it. There's a fair chance that some of what's written is genuine or the author believed it was at least, while other parts are close to impossible in my opinion, there also masses of contradictions. I've said before that I think a lot of the Bible are stories with meaning that weren't meant to be taken literally, some of the stories could even be based loosely on the truth, but with a lot of fantasy added, for instance Jesus may have existed, perhaps he told stories of fantasy to his followers that were just that and he most likely did make a huge impact on some people in these times of high superstition where many people were very gullible, but it was written in the Bible like it's a definite fact. How many people really believe there was an Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with a snake and an apple? This was most definitely a made up story of fantasy with a meaning in my opinion and Charles Darwin's theory of evolution started to disprove it to the dismay of many devoted Christians and followers of the Bible, his theory probably isn't perfect, but it's most definitely a lot more feasibly possible and I would even go as far to say that it's likely, although there are probably other factors that haven't been taken into account yet too. Also as I've said before, over the years the Bible has been altered many times over the centuries and some of the original meaning has also been lost in translations.

As I said the Bible has many contradictions, but some are huge, for instance it states, "Put to death any woman who practices magic.", but what about the Ten Commandments and "thou shalt not kill"? This caused the Witchcraft Act to be passed and there was witch hunts where many innocent women were burnt at the stake (murdered with a torturous painful death) and practising Spiritualism and similar was still illegal well into the 20th Century in the UK while many Christians still look down upon such practices. I wrote more about what I think of the Bible including some of it's contradictions here:

https://www.autismforums.com/threads/reading-the-bible-its-hard.25908/#post-519243

PS: After Jesus was allegedly resurrected why does the story end not long after? It's all too convenient and it obviously leaves a lot to be explained which I think they'd find too difficult without giving away a lot more of the story's many flaws.
 
I always find these types of discussions fascinating. I was raised in a pretty strict judeo-christian family, so spent several years studying this stuff in detail. Although I think there's some generally good material in the Bible (don't murder people, don't envy, don't lie, etc), these days I dislike organised religion. I'm suspicious of anything that humans takeover en mass and build a hierarchy out of. But academically I find the Bible interesting, much like all the other spiritual/historical literature I've studied. If you go back far enough, a lot of it meshes together.

"How many people really believe there was an Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with a snake and an apple? This was most definitely a made up story of fantasy with a meaning in my opinion and Charles Darwin's theory of evolution started to disprove it to the dismay of many devoted Christians and followers of the Bible, his theory probably isn't perfect, but it's most definitely a lot more feasibly possible and I would even go as far to say that it's likely, although there are probably other factors that haven't been taken into account yet too."

The Bible makes far more sense if you read the original text and also from a 'jewish' perspective. Certainly the old testament, which follows the journey of a specific group of people from the Greater Mesopotamia area. For example, I was taught a very different Adam and Eve story to the one I hear most christians discuss. I first heard the 'Adam and Eve were the original humans' theory when I went to a christian baptist church as an older kid. If you read Genesis, even the English translations mention hunter gatherer type humans already existing in Chapter 1 (the people Cain and others hook up with later on). Then from Chapter 2 onwards it introduces and follows the 'Adamic' group of agricultural people (later referred to as 'Israel' or by just one of the many Israel tribes: 'Jews' or 'Judah') after a change in climate, which was likely around the start of the Holocene period following the last ice age. Before the introduction of this group of people, it describes a drought with no rain, then soon after the environment changes again. As far as I'm aware historians agree that farming developed in the Greater Mesopotamia region around this time. Chapter 1 doesn't specify how long the planet had been around prior to this. It just gives a very very general overview of the creation process from the POV of the planet. So the 'young earth' theory makes no sense based on Genesis itself. Some people argue that Chapters 1 and 2 are two different accounts of the same creation, but the original text wasn't broken up into set chapters like we have today.

The snake and apple part is also a bit different in the original text. I was taught it as an allegory rather than a literal depiction, with the snake being a type of 'sorcerer' or 'shaman' that existed in the area around that time (you can find images or mentions of snakes or snake-headed figures elsewhere in ancient Mesopotamia area cultures, so it wasn't a new concept). Shamanism was already well established as part of various older religions/cults, with practices involving the use of certain herbs to contact spirits or see what was considered to be the 'spiritual' realm. The debate that runs throughout the Bible is 'God'/universal law versus human-made law. This new 'Adamic' group of people originally obey the laws of their God without question. Then they are offered the chance to expand their understanding of the world and make decisions for themselves and they take it despite the warning that this knowledge will also bring great suffering. The use of a snake and an apple is an allegory (the Bible uses a ton of symbology and allegory), but the philosophical argument would have been pretty clear to the reader: follow natural/universal law without question and remain ignorant but happy OR accept wisdom and understanding and make your own moral decisions but suffer for it. They chose the latter. As a side note, I've read studies that point to a correlation between higher intelligence and mood disorders such as depression. So it's a reasonable argument for the author of Genesis to make. Ignorance really is bliss!

Another theory I heard as a child was that the snake/apple story is a double allegory, with the shaman impregnating Eve (which is where Cain and his lineage to Esau come from). There are other points in the Bible where the symbols of fruit, seeds and trees are used to describe groups of related people or ancestors (much like the 'family tree' concept today), so it's not so far fetched. Blood relation is incredibly important in the Bible and entire chapters are devoted to geneologies of Israel. Some people with far more interest in the genetic components of the Bible have tracked through all the geneologies and linked certain figures or groups all the way back to Cain and the story described in Genesis. I haven't had a chance to study it in any detail, but it's another viewpoint that makes more sense than a literal snake and apple. It was suggested to me that this group of shamanic people were just ancient cro-magnons who migrated into the Mesopotamia region due to the changing climate and likely met with this other group of people. Other non-Biblical writing from that area also mentions a different group of people that teach farming, writing, medicine and other things. I imagine the specific 'punishment' that Eve suffers is describing the painful effect of a resultant bigger brain/skull during childbirth (check out the size of cro-magnon skulls and imagine having to get that b*stard through non cro-magnon sized hips)! :eek:

I agree that the person called Jesus described in the Bible was likely middle eastern in appearance. There are physical descriptions of his ancestors in the Bible/Dead Sea scrolls (non-canon books), as well as images and descriptions of the people that lived around the Mesopotamia region at the time of Genesis. The depictions all match middle eastern caucasian types, so likely tanned skin and a range of hair/eye colours. Could even have been a ginger, since redheads appear more than once in his bloodline and contrary to common belief red hair isn't just a european trait. But other than that, there is no specific description of Jesus to go on.

I'm not sure when the 'Jesus was a blonde, blue eyed, white skinned guy' thing began. Like others have mentioned, I'm sure all cultures have a tendency to depict important figures as looking similar to themselves and over time this just sticks.
 
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I have no idea why you referenced my post with yours, as they seem to have nothing in common, either in agreeance or contradiction. With all respect meant; I often scroll past other posts to get to yours.
Because you stated "Love how the the bible has to be 100% real or fake", my point was I don't think it's all fake, but I don't believe a large amount of it either including key beliefs of Christianity, so I don't think it's 100% real or fake. Yeah I went on a bit after that, but that's me. :D
 
Because you stated "Love how the the bible has to be 100% real or fake", my point was I don't think it's all fake, but I don't believe a large amount of it either including key beliefs of Christianity, so I don't think it's 100% real or fake. Yeah I went on a bit after that, but that's me. :D
Exactly what I was saying! People either follow it (or claim to follow it) crazily, missing the overall picture, or it's some hocus-pocus nonsense that has no legitimacy and only wife-beating, bearded old men are stupid enough to read it. No one ever seems to view it as a flawed, constantly re-edited book that perhaps contains ageless wisdom.
 
Link.

As an atheist, I personally don't believe Jesus existed, but some people strongly believe in Him.

Thoughts?

*It's never been generally thought that Jesus was a Caucasian person. He was born in Palestine to Hebrew parents, and identified himself as Hebrew.

*As an agnostic, it's still abundantly obvious to me that Jesus was a real person, and that so many atheists and agnostics as well as people of other persuasions like to try and say he wasn't is frankly silly to me and quite the demonstrative example of public ignorance. People really could stand to learn a thing or two about how historians happen to go about their profession before proliferating such thoughts ad nauseum.

Let's say Jesus wasn't a real person. Okay folks... then were Plato, Aristotle, Julius Caesar, Caligula, Constantine, Attila the Hun, or Genghis Khan real people? The closest provenance we can establish for a manuscript of a Platonic text is a recovered fragment of the Republic which was copied 400 years after Plato lived, and yet historians are more than reasonably confident that Plato was a real person. Jesus on the other hand sparked thousands of manuscripts, some of which can be dated as early as 125 AD, and that is simply unheard of for any other ancient historical figure.

Historians use criteria well established in the discipline of historiography such as the principle of embarrassment, the principle of enemy attestation, the principle of multiple independent attestation, and they cross reference myriads of contemporary accounts ranging from personal letters to official state documents in order to arrive at what they deem to be accurate enough accounts of history. If Julius Caesar can be unquestionably considered a real person, even though the most contemporary accounts we've recovered of him are from hundreds of years later, then whether or not Jesus was real is hardly a question. The most decidedly atheist leaning, secular historians tend to facepalm when they see stuff like "Jesus wasn't a real person" getting bandied about so much on the internet, what's really nonsense here is how that statement makes about as much sense as "the cookie monster is real" and yet so many people today are buying into it.

Simply because we don't believe in a given religion doesn't require us to present our thoughts as an absurd hyperbole of real skepticism.
 
With so many generations past in around 2000 years you really cannot confirm eye witness reports or even trust anything that was written from so long ago, it most definitely can't be described as reliable and I will have to agree to disagree

PJC, what are acceptable criteria for you to consider something a historical fact? How familiar are you with the manner in which historians go about comparing possibly conflicting accounts to arrive at a consensus on what happened?

To be a modern historian entails being one of the most multidisciplinary academics that a person can be now. They are well known for writing on archeology, anthropology, economics, sociology, textual criticism, the practice and science of medicine, and other diverse subjects and applying them to the study of history.

The research interests of historians change over time, and there has been a shift away from traditional diplomatic, economic, and political history toward newer approaches, especially social and cultural studies. From 1975 to 1995, the proportion of professors of history in American universities identifying with social history increased from 31 to 41 percent, while the proportion of political historians decreased from 40 to 30 percent. In 2007, of 5,723 faculty in the departments of history at British universities, 1,644 (29%) identified themselves with social history and 1,425 (25%) identified themselves with political history.

The field constantly evolves, and there's a mind boggling of different academic resources which historians can draw from when trying to suss out what happened. So in summation: yes, you really can confirm a lot about what people wrote so long ago, even if you possess an exceptionally critical and skeptical mindset. I'd especially suggest looking at the work of Dominic Crossan, who is so far as I can tell the foremost historical mind of the Jesus Seminar; he confirms quite a bit about Classical period history while not lending credence to any supernatural worldview.

On the other hand, PJC, I'm more than a little sympathetic towards your viewpoint on books like Cold Case Christianity or Lee Strobel's The Case For Christ. Those are popularly published books, not peer reviewed works which merit the same response as something produced by someone who happens to work in a relevant field and is sufficiently aware of historiography. Any interested reader can find on their own that there are stark differences and the minds generally held in critical esteem on these subjects by their academic peers don't come to such dramatic conclusions as an author like Strobel.

Christians are often only open to one thing and that is what the Bible says even though it was written by various different human beings, but if everyone followed the Bible to the tee they'd still be murdering women suspected of practising magic (often referred to as witchcraft).

If everyone really had as much familiarity with the text of the Bible as an academic can now and they were genuinely interested in following it, history would be starkly different because for the most part it is the literature of a religion just as peaceful as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and the other primary religions. Being more than a little familiar with their texts I can assure you of my ability to establish as much and demonstrate that political groups throughout time have had little to do with the genuine philosophical content originally presented by the religions they used.

I once had a very devoted Christian lady tell me that I should immediately stop seeking any spirit except the "holy spirit", claiming that anything else is demonic and evil. She then said to me that she could make me feel the power of God and that I'd be amazed. To make it fair I did everything I could to open my mind, but unlike most people I am also very careful not to be influenced by autosuggestion and to keep a clear head. She put her hands on me and said a prayer, I can't remember exactly what she said, but I was apparently supposed to feel the power of God's love which the prayer asked for, she said that everyone she'd done this with felt something and that it changed people's lives. Well I can honestly say that I felt absolutely nothing, she was quite taken aback and told me that I would probably feel it later which I also didn't. I strongly suspect that everyone else was influenced by strong autosuggestion, they expected to feel something, most probably wanted to feel something and therefore convinced themselves that they did, many of them will then be convinced that they've witnessed definite proof of God and/or Jesus when they haven't.

Even if they did feel something that's no distinct indication of anything. Let's say I used a nerve inducer to convince my brain that my hand is on fire... Is my hand really on fire? Why should me getting goosebumps and interesting sensations from a lady talking to me be something that indicates in any clear way whether Christianity is true when that question is so terribly involved?
 
I always find these types of discussions fascinating. I was raised in a pretty strict judeo-christian family, so spent several years studying this stuff in detail. Although I think there's some generally good material in the Bible (don't murder people, don't envy, don't lie, etc), these days I dislike organised religion. I'm suspicious of anything that humans takeover en mass and build a hierarchy out of. But academically I find the Bible interesting, much like all the other spiritual/historical literature I've studied. If you go back far enough, a lot of it meshes together.

I couldn't agree more. Like any collection of religious texts that is so historically significant, there are lots of philosophically profound things to consider. That I have great distaste for organized religion doesn't stop me from being fascinated by thoughts on theodicy and Rationalism vs Empiricism when reading the book of Job, or dualism and existentialism when reading the Bhagavad Gita.

As disappointing and seemingly thoughtless as people are when they organize together to form religions, their curiosity and ability to reason elegantly about abstract subjects can be awe inspiring and I'll never be too "rational" and "educated" to regard old religious texts merely as "primitive", "bronze age fables".

If you read Genesis, even the English translations mention hunter gatherer type humans already existing in Chapter 1 (the people Cain and others hook up with later on).

Excellent! I see you also are pretty familiar with the text and these kinds of questions, and have always wondered myself about how these other people fit in. How might an ancient Near Eastern thinker regard the idea of a hominid? So far as I can tell from the early chapters of Genesis, the linguistic content of the text indicates to me that what makes Adam "human" is something spiritual happening, not him being the first of a species.

Some people argue that Chapters 1 and 2 are two different accounts of the same creation, but the original text wasn't broken up into set chapters like we have today.

Right. Separating the text into chapter and verse was a matter of convenience for readers and scribes much later on. However there is a definite break in the text there and the author moves from writing a theological mythos like the Enuma Elish to presenting an ancient anthropology, followed up by a toledoth/genealogy similar to the Kith Tablets and Assyrian King List, and then a series of historical epics starting with the story of Noah which are not too dissimilar from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Another theory I heard as a child was that the snake/apple story is a double allegory, with the shaman impregnating Eve (which is where Cain and his lineage to Esau come from). There are other points in the Bible where the symbols of fruit, seeds and trees are used to describe groups of related people or ancestors (much like the 'family tree' concept today), so it's not so far fetched.

Would you say your thoughts were probably more influenced at that time by Origen and Augustine talking about the early chapters of Genesis as an allegory then you were by historians actually engaging in dialogue about Mesopotamians? I'm curious because outside of Protestant circles which focus instead on literal interpretations, those two have more to do with the provenance of those ideas inside Christianity. If your parents had some kind of Orthodox, Catholic, or other Older Order background I'm inclined to think that Origen and Augustine must have figured into things more.

I agree that the person called Jesus described in the Bible was likely middle eastern in appearance. There are physical descriptions of his ancestors in the Bible/Dead Sea scrolls (non-canon books), as well as images and descriptions of the people that lived around the Mesopotamia region at the time of Genesis. The depictions all match middle eastern caucasian types, so likely tanned skin and a range of hair/eye colours. Could even have been a ginger, since redheads appear more than once in his bloodline and contrary to common belief red hair isn't just a european trait. But other than that, there is no specific description of Jesus to go on.

... I'm confused by what you're saying here because I've never heard of a Semitic group being described as having Caucasian origins. Semitic groups descended primarily from African and Mesopotamian origins. Caucasians descended primarily from groups living in Asian mountains and steppes.

The Qumran community which produced the Dead Sea Scrolls and other such Essenic groups at that time weren't in any position to produce depictions of Mesopotamians more accurate than they and neighboring Semitic groups already had produced back then in cuneiform illustrations and written descriptions. Also I'm unaware of anything in the Dead Sea Scrolls describing a Mesopotamian as having red hair, the Qumranic Essenes themselves would have been unfamiliar with that idea, I'm sure, as they were Hebrew and the Hebrews living in Palestine didn't look like that either according to contemporary Roman historians.
 
I agree that the person called Jesus described in the Bible was likely middle eastern in appearance. There are physical descriptions of his ancestors in the Bible/Dead Sea scrolls (non-canon books), as well as images and descriptions of the people that lived around the Mesopotamia region at the time of Genesis. The depictions all match middle eastern caucasian types, so likely tanned skin and a range of hair/eye colours. Could even have been a ginger, since redheads appear more than once in his bloodline and contrary to common belief red hair isn't just a european trait. But other than that, there is no specific description of Jesus to go on.
... I'm confused by what you're saying here because I've never heard of a Semitic group being described as having Caucasian origins. Semitic groups descended primarily from African and Mesopotamian origins. Caucasians descended primarily from groups living in Asian mountains and steppes.

Well Sid, it appears I needed to do some more homework on the subject and you were right after all. Apparently most ancient populations of Europe, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia share common, relatively recent genetic origins in the Caucasus mountains where Russia meets the rest of Asia, more specifically Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Iran.
771px-Caucasus_topographic_map-en.svg.png

800px-Kavkasioni.JPG

Clearly I have some learning to do so far as archeology and physical anthropology as it relates to the Middle East.
 
(I couldn't get multi-multiquote to work, so apologies for the weird formatting below!)

Sid Delicious said: If you read Genesis, even the English translations mention hunter gatherer type humans already existing in Chapter 1 (the people Cain and others hook up with later on).

Propianotuner: Excellent! I see you also are pretty familiar with the text and these kinds of questions, and have always wondered myself about how these other people fit in. How might an ancient Near Eastern thinker regard the idea of a hominid? So far as I can tell from the early chapters of Genesis, the linguistic content of the text indicates to me that what makes Adam "human" is something spiritual happening, not him being the first of a species.

I'm certainly no expert, but I listened to countless lectures, debates, etc growing up as just a normal part of my childhood. I'm not sure how 'familiar' that makes me compared to any other person. I can only give an opinion based on what I've been told and what I can remember, but it's only one interpretation and could be entirely wrong. I also tend to focus more on the historical, literary and genetic aspects of the Bible rather than the spiritual ones. I think at least some of the seemingly 'magical' or 'spiritual' parts only appear that way due to a lack of logical understanding of either those writing the Bible or those reading it. Genesis is a good example of that.


I don't believe the other humans mentioned in Genesis are neccessarily 'hominids' (at least, that wasn't what I was taught), just different groups of 'modern' humans that were around back then. We're only talking 10-20k years ago. Some would have been adapted to the warmer areas that had avoided the ice sheets, others would be adapted to the colder, drier areas covered in snow (which covered most of europe pre-Holocene). But essentially they were all what we would consider modern humans. Even further back, I believe groups such as neanderthals and cro magnon were close enough genetically that they could breed (bar the RH- RH+ issue, which may or may not have been specific to these groups). Existing humans were clearly similar enough that they could intermarry with these new 'Adamic' people when they came into contact. We have evidence of modern humans already living in Africa, Asia and elsewhere. The Bible is just centred around the Middle East area and events that took place among that population. So this 'Adamic' group isn't describing the creation of modern humans versus existing hominids, just a seemingly unique group of modern humans (unique enough that they and others could differentiate between them). Perhaps as a result of adaptation to the changing climate and/or from interbreeding between migrating cro-magnons and an existing group in the area and/or from the Caucasus mountain area (which may be the area referred to as 'Eden'). Perhaps they were just in a 'sweet spot' environment-wise where they had more available time/energy/resources to develop agriculture and other skills and the combination of traits that one group of humans brought to this other group of humans led to a sudden sharp advancement in human development. It's all speculation, but there are a number of possible realistic scenarios.

People also forget that Israel is not the same as the term 'jewish' (a fairly modern term) or the one tribe of 'Judah' that is referred to today. There is a tendancy for christians to read the old testament as 'the story of the jewish people', whereas the jewish people I know are aware that the people referred to as 'Israel' or 'Adamic' in the old testament are a conglomerate of people with jewish people just being the remaining tribes still recognisible today. There were originally 12/13 (depending on how you count them) tribes or minor groups within the larger 'Israel' group and most of them migrated elsewhere and 'disappeared' to history while the Bible continues following the story of the remaining tribes of 'jewish' people that remained in the area for longer. Genetics can likely track the other tribes that moved out and settled elsewhere earlier on. I imagine they would have a shared haplogroup or all trace back to the same Mesopotamia area. Although my understanding of genetics is very limited so I have no idea how it works exactly, I know through my own family (who have traced their geneologies and genetics via both family tree style records and genetic testing) that the 'black' Irish, Basque, sephardi jewish and British lines all trace back to the same area 6-7k years ago. They also tend to share the same genetic traits (appearance, medical issues, blood types, allergies, required diets, longevity, etc). Despite the different migratory groups living in seperate locations for hundreds+ years. I should technically be a genetic 'mongrel', since my parents are a mash up of all the above, but my DNA says otherwise as it does for my brother, sister and cousins. So I tend to agree with the Genesis interpretation I was given as a child (an account of the migrations and break up of a bunch of people living in Mesopotamia a few thousands years ago). It sounds a bit boring compared to the 'spiritual' version, but I believe it's a more reasonable one and doesn't have any argument with evolutionary theory.

Sid Delicious said: Some people argue that Chapters 1 and 2 are two different accounts of the same creation, but the original text wasn't broken up into set chapters like we have today.

Propianotuner: Right. Separating the text into chapter and verse was a matter of convenience for readers and scribes much later on. However there is a definite break in the text there and the author moves from writing a theological mythos like the Enuma Elish to presenting an ancient anthropology, followed up by a toledoth/genealogy similar to the Kith Tablets and Assyrian King List, and then a series of historical epics starting with the story of Noah which are not too dissimilar from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

I would assume this is because Genesis chapter 1 is much older than Genesis chapter 2 and was passed down orally prior to the invention of writing systems in Mesopotamia. The events described in Genesis 1 are shared among other non-Adamic groups and I'm sure there was influence to and from these groups prior to the Biblical version of Genesis being written down. The events in Genesis 1 take place long before the appearance of the Adamic people, so they would have heard them from other people. So I would expect the writing to be a different style.

Sid Delicious said: Another theory I heard as a child was that the snake/apple story is a double allegory, with the shaman impregnating Eve (which is where Cain and his lineage to Esau come from). There are other points in the Bible where the symbols of fruit, seeds and trees are used to describe groups of related people or ancestors (much like the 'family tree' concept today), so it's not so far fetched.

Propianotuner: Would you say your thoughts were probably more influenced at that time by Origen and Augustine talking about the early chapters of Genesis as an allegory then you were by historians actually engaging in dialogue about Mesopotamians? I'm curious because outside of Protestant circles which focus instead on literal interpretations, those two have more to do with the provenance of those ideas inside Christianity. If your parents had some kind of Orthodox, Catholic, or other Older Order background I'm inclined to think that Origen and Augustine must have figured into things more.

I honestly have no idea! It was just the version I was taught when younger. Then I spent a while studying ancient literature as part of my degree and looked deeper into the Mesopotamia area as my family had already traced a lot of their own geneology and found links to there. As far as I'm aware, none of my family follow any specific christian group (they are a mash up of all sorts of beliefs), but have been involved in a variety of organisations/groups and mostly study Biblical literature as a tradition. I've read sources from a range of protestant, catholic, jewish, non-denominational, atheist, and other backgrounds, so I'm not sure who I'd say has influenced me in particular.


(continued below...)
 
Sid Delicious said: I agree that the person called Jesus described in the Bible was likely middle eastern in appearance. There are physical descriptions of his ancestors in the Bible/Dead Sea scrolls (non-canon books), as well as images and descriptions of the people that lived around the Mesopotamia region at the time of Genesis. The depictions all match middle eastern caucasian types, so likely tanned skin and a range of hair/eye colours. Could even have been a ginger, since redheads appear more than once in his bloodline and contrary to common belief red hair isn't just a european trait. But other than that, there is no specific description of Jesus to go on.

Propianotuner said: ...I've never heard of a Semitic group being described as having Caucasian origins. Semitic groups descended primarily from African and Mesopotamian origins. Caucasians descended primarily from groups living in Asian mountains and steppes.

... Apparently most ancient populations of Europe, the Caucasus, Asia Minor, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia share common, relatively recent genetic origins in the Caucasus mountains where Russia meets the rest of Asia, more specifically Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Iran.

Yep. Which is why I tend to believe the version of Genesis/old testament that I was taught rather than the commonly held christian one. As an aside, the irish, Basque and British lines of my family are all very much classed as 'European' both historically and genetically but would not look that out of place in Iran or Armenia if they stood around in the sun for a while (my mum especially can look like a stereotypically pale white British lady in the winter, then turns a dark tanned colour after a few hours in the summer). Her eyes also go from more green to more brown coloured too. My sister (who gets work based on her physical appearance) has been asked to appear and/or model on 'asian' (middle eastern) focused TV shows or events several times as she can pass as native 'arabic'. It's all based on stereotypes of what the media and society assumes people from those areas 'should' look like, but in reality you can have a wide range of physical traits within the 'caucasian' category (I tend to use the term 'breed' as it seems more accurate and less emotionally charged than 'race', even if people don't like being compared to dogs!). 'Semetic' is a bit misleading, as it can be used to refer to a group of languages OR cultural background OR specifically the jewish/arab people. It tends to be banded around as a replacement term for a lot of different things these days. In addition, many jewish people are not semitic but they or their family have converted or married into a semitic jewish line either recently or within a few generations. So I tend to only use it to refer to languages.


I doubt any of my interpretation is scientifically valid as it's just a mix of personal anecdotes, coincidental evidence, and things I've been taught or read growing up. But to me it's far more realistic than 'the earth is only 6-7k years old, Adam and Eve were the very first humans and the rest is magic'! :D
 
The thread is becoming a real pleasure. This time I'll let Mesopotamia speak for itself at the outset:


I'm certainly no expert, but I listened to countless lectures, debates, etc growing up as just a normal part of my childhood. I'm not sure how 'familiar' that makes me compared to any other person.

It makes you more familiar than seemingly innumerable masses of people who aren't as curious and don't care to know such information. It's nice having yourself and several others here to discuss these and other things with, who are also very curious people :)

I can only give an opinion based on what I've been told and what I can remember, but it's only one interpretation and could be entirely wrong. I also tend to focus more on the historical, literary and genetic aspects of the Bible rather than the spiritual ones. I think at least some of the seemingly 'magical' or 'spiritual' parts only appear that way due to a lack of logical understanding of either those writing the Bible or those reading it. Genesis is a good example of that.

I'd like to suggest that this may not be a methodologically sound way of looking at historically significant literature. It runs contrary to the same historical, literary and genetic aspects of the text which you value to sterilize its spiritual aspects anywhere the theological content can be clearly shown as part of the author's intentions. However without enough substance to work with so far as an idea of how you interpret the text, it remains to be seen what your reasoning looks like here.

I don't believe the other humans mentioned in Genesis are neccessarily 'hominids' (at least, that wasn't what I was taught), just different groups of 'modern' humans that were around back then. We're only talking 10-20k years ago.

That's probably a reasonable time estimate for the maximum lifespan of such detailed oral traditions surviving until they see literary use, but this question has really given me pause over the last couple of years as I've wondered about it and been open to the possibility that oral traditions may very well be able to persist for longer. It's quite remarkable how much people can remember and how fine tuned the transmission process can be when people preserve information socially.

Also I wouldn't be surprised if very recent hominid groups are discovered because it seems that startlingly recent groups are found every year, just a couple of years ago in the case of a significant amount of Denisovan (a group found in Siberia in 2010) DNA being observed in aboriginal Australians, as much as 5%. The cave in which Denisovans were discovered, called Denisova cave and located in the Altai mountains, contains bone fragments from a Denisovan female who lived approximately 41,000 years ago in the same place as modern humans and Neanderthals.

The debate has been cracked wide open over the course of this young century, concerning whether groups such as Java Men, Denisovans, Cro Magnons, Neanderthals, etc. are separate species or subspecies of Homo Sapiens, with Homo Sapiens Sapiens merely being the subspecies which ended up dominating most of the modern human genome as we proliferated.

Some would have been adapted to the warmer areas that had avoided the ice sheets, others would be adapted to the colder, drier areas covered in snow (which covered most of europe pre-Holocene). But essentially they were all what we would consider modern humans. Even further back, I believe groups such as neanderthals and cro magnon were close enough genetically that they could breed (bar the RH- RH+ issue, which may or may not have been specific to these groups).

They were not only close enough genetically to breed with modern humans, they collectively form a not insignificant portion of the bodies you and I inhabit.

Existing humans were clearly similar enough that they could intermarry with these new 'Adamic' people when they came into contact. We have evidence of modern humans already living in Africa, Asia and elsewhere. The Bible is just centred around the Middle East area and events that took place among that population. So this 'Adamic' group isn't describing the creation of modern humans versus existing hominids, just a seemingly unique group of modern humans (unique enough that they and others could differentiate between them).

It's about time we dug into the text itself, eh? Before I do my best to perform what I have to admit is a sadly limited linguistic study, I've some questions to stimulate thought beforehand:

What is it that made people 'Adamic'? Remember we're not thinking in terms of science, we're thinking in terms of what the literature and traditions before them were trying to communicate. How were these people coming out of modern day Iraq supposed to be unique?

Genesis 2:7

Concordant Literal Version (one of the most strict verbatim English translations I'm aware of):

Yahweh Elohim formed the human out of soil from the ground, and He blew into his nostrils the breath of life; and the human became a living soul.

Hebrew transliteration of the Westminster Leningrad Codex (with keywords highlighted for later vocabulary reference), followed by the Hebrew symbols and then a purely verbatim rendering not corrected for English grammar:

mn ophr e-adm - ath aleim ieue u-iitzr chiim nshmth b-aphi-u u-iphch e-adme : chie l-nphsh e-adm u-iei

וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם, עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה, וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו, נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים; וַיְהִי הָאָדָם, לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה.

From soil the human >> Elohim Yahweh and-he-is-forming lives breath-of in-nostrils-of-him and-he-is-blowing the-ground living to-soul the-human and-he-is-becoming

The most critical words to look at here, in order of appearance, are neshamah and nephesh. As in any ancient language, the philosophy of the people is embedded in the language itself, in stark contrast to the modern languages we use which possess significantly wider vocabularies. In ancient times fewer words were used which had an astounding number of possible implications that could be determined by grammar, presumably intonation (such a question is forever well beyond our means to explore), and overall context within the whole sentence or even implied through whatever subject is being explained over several sentences.

With these two words it's uncanny how similar they are philosophically to the Classical period Greek dialects. It's a common thread between Semitic and Hellenistic languages to understand the breath of an individual as the actual person, so to speak. One's breath was the physical manifestation and furthermore the social extension of one's soul/mind, the seat of thought which they perceived as coming out of the heart (before later Greek philosophers and physicians in ancient Rome the heart was thought of as performing the functions we ascribe to the brain). Neshamah is the exhalation of the mind and nephesh is the mind itself.

The implication I'm currently disposed to assume from the text here is that the difference between Adam and the people around him who Cain left his family to interbreed with, is that Adam has a particular thinking capacity which is incorporeal and is supposed to be similar to God's thinking capacity. As we move on in reading this anthropological chapter we see Adam, and by extension his kind, being defined along those lines as he flexes those very muscles. That he is able to be so self aware, to observe the world around him with enough curiosity to name the animals he sees, and to have an existential need for companionship, sounds to me like ancient people trying to explain how an object became a subject. Adam has experiential urges and requirements which just aren't the same as an animal.
 
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I would assume this is because Genesis chapter 1 is much older than Genesis chapter 2 and was passed down orally prior to the invention of writing systems in Mesopotamia.

So far as this subject goes, I've a surprise for you I'm sure you'll find as fascinating as I did early in my Middle Eastern studies: most everything in the Bible, old testament and new, was preserved in an oral form before being converted into literature. There just so happens to be a wealth of compelling reasons, upon which a critical mass of historians have begun to converge since the 90's, to consider the second chapter of Genesis yet another account of how Mesopotamian civilization is said by every one of the contemporary groups in the area to have begun in Eridug.

The Sumer, Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians all describe an Adam type figure springing up out of an idyllic place between the Tigris and Euphrates, i.e. in the Fertile Crescent (Mesopotamia). The accounts which are more specific so far as a name for the place all refer to Eridug, a mythological cradle of Mesopotamian society which archeologists fervently hope they can identify as a real place because they have several likely candidates in mind, and these accounts are given in the form of Near Eastern king lists (a king list is a series of tablets, one for each king, containing short biographies). Each civilization describes the kings of Eridug and later similar cities as people who lived an extremely long time, the first one always being one of the most long lived but a Methuselah type figure showing up later in the list who lived longer.

These traditions necessarily predate writing in the region, at least so far as we know, because the same groups which first began writing through the use of cuneiform tablets, the Akkadians and Sumerians, are recounting what they consider their origins.

Because all of this comes from a time before writing, there's no real way I'm aware of that we can be certain these many of these traditions, both chapters included, even began in the Fertile Crescent. Who's to say a Denisovan or Neanderthal didn't originally stoke the flames of these ingenious and profound ideas about a creator, the cosmos and the earth, and the nature of man? ;)

The events described in Genesis 1 are shared among other non-Adamic groups and I'm sure there was influence to and from these groups prior to the Biblical version of Genesis being written down. The events in Genesis 1 take place long before the appearance of the Adamic people, so they would have heard them from other people. So I would expect the writing to be a different style.

As I've just shared in a sadly abridged form (please feel free to ask for references or citations of any information I share, however one might interpret the information I can assure you my sourcing has been rigorous and I'm careful not to peddle speculative half-truths), Adam is likely enough to be another name for Alulim, the first king of the Eridug hegemony.

See here the Sumerian King list, generally understood today as referring roughly to the Jemdet Nasr period in pottery by archeologists on account of its reference to Shuruppag, i.e. towards the end of the list it's referring to a time around 3,000 BC:

Alulim: after the kingship fell from heaven, the kingship was in Eridug. In Eridug, Alulim was king; he ruled for 8 sars (28, 800 years).

Alalngar: *10 sars (36,000 years)*

Then Eridug fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira.


En-men-lu-ana: *12 sars (43,200 years)*

En-men-gal-ana: *8 sars*

Dumuzid, the Shepherd: *10 sars*

Then Bad-tibira fell and the kingship was taken to Larag.


En-sipad-zid-ana: *8 sars*

Then Larag fell and the kingship was taken to Zimbir.


En-men-dur-ana: *5 sars and 5 ners (21,000 years)*

Then Zimbir fell and the kingship was taken to Shuruppag.

Ubara-tutu: *5 sars and 1 ner (18,600 years)*

Then the flood swept over.
 
(I'm not ignoring your reply, but I'm going to need a while to go through everything and respond properly! :))
 
while we can possibly make out the ethnicity of Jesus we have no clue what he looked like.

there shouldn't be any pictures of Jesus and the ones we do have are unsubstantiated.
 
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Just because some of the things people claim he did was obviously BS, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t a real person. You have to remember people were extremely superstitious in this time and could have embellished the story based on whatever ridiculous belief they had. For example, maybe he didn’t turn water into wine but was able to acquire an amount of wine from some unknown place which led to people spinning the tale that way. Maybe people just completely made stuff up to make him seem awesome (think Kim Jong-Un). Anyway I think the values Jesus taught in the bible make him a pretty cool guy. Before he was in the picture it was all rape and murder. I think of the quote “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”. I say this as an atheist who doesn’t believe anything in the bible or elsewhere is “God’s word”.
The story of Jesus's "turning water to wine"
is repetition of misunderstood,
and misquoted allegory.
It is a known allegory present in other religions
and philosophies.
It is also rather simply explained.
Jesus was commenting upon the
apparent transmogrification of water
to wine. ie "sinner" to "saved"

-Rain falls.
-Grape-vines(and other fruit-plants)
absorb water.
-By the absorption of rain, these plants
grow, and eventually produce fruit,
which quite obviously is filled with,
in varying degrees, that same element.
-Fruit is then harvested, rendered, and other
components are added.
-Correct conditions are (then) maintained.
-Wine comes into being.

This is the "miracle" of "water to wine".
Jesus's elucidation of the natural process.
"One" mundane thing, "becoming" something very different under the right
conditions, with the correct things done
and added at the right time.

It is an allegory for the spiritual growth of
the individual.
Taking the mundanity that is the average human, the human filtering what they will, and will not do by adopting practices and
disciplines(discarding the randomness
of willy-nilly, neither here nor there action and attitude), adding the correct external
elements and conditions, given time, will
create the spiritual awareness and maturity
that Jesus was attempting to teach.
The transformation of the human mind,
or psyche,
or, if you will, the "soul".
That most of this was removed, is the true
"miracle".
The profundity of this teaching has been cheapened, eliminated by the desire to
sensationalize and simultaneously
obscure it's original meaning.
Again, I invite you to explore The Gospel Of
Thomas,
if this(these) subject(s) is(are)
of interest to you.
 
Link.

As an atheist, I personally don't believe Jesus existed, but some people strongly believe in Him.

Thoughts?

The former minister of my UU church (very liberal and open to atheists and agnostics) said that some historians believe Jesus was a composite of several figures. I believe there are historical accounts of his existence. I believe that Jesus is an important figure because of the teachings of kindness and compassion. It's unsettling to see so many religions condone teachings that are not in sync with that, but then, according to the Bible, Jesus did notice that the religious leaders were the biggest hypocrites. I often wish more attention were paid to that.
 
The whole thing where he and his followers trashed the Temple courtyard is likely related to Jesus's hatred of rich people and people we would today call banksters..

I don't believe Jesus hated rich people. I believe he was angry at hypocritical religious leaders and also at those whose greed led them to be hurtful towards others (that might have included tax collectors). He did require that his followers give up everything, but I don't believe that was out of hatred of rich people. I believe it had more to do with being able to let go of the things of this Earth and focus on the Kingdom of Heaven - our spiritual, inner life.
 
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