The Question of Historicity Need Not Be Raised

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by Neil Godfrey

The question whether Orpheus himself existed or not need not be raised. There was, in general, no doubt of it in the ancient world. Indeed, it makes very little difference in the history of human thought whether the great and influential personalities ever actually lived in human bodies. Personalities like Zeus, Odysseus, and Zoroaster, and even Hamlet and Don Quixote, have been more important in the world than millions of men who have lived and died. Their reality is the reality of an idea, and the best that we can know about them is what men have thought about them. The reality of Orpheus is to be sought in what men thought and said about him. 
Linforth, Ivan M. 1973 (c 1941). The Arts of Orpheus. New York: Arno Press. xiif
Death of Orpheus (1494) by Dürer
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5 thoughts on “The Question of Historicity Need Not Be Raised”

  1. • In comparison to the quality of the thought of the OP, we have this:

    Klein, Christopher (26 February 2019) [now bolded]. “The Bible Says Jesus Was Real. What Other Proof Exists?”. HISTORY. Updated 16 April 2019.

    [Per Bart D. Ehrman:] “The reality is that we don’t have archaeological records for virtually anyone who lived in Jesus’s time and place . . . lack of evidence does not mean a person at the time didn’t exist. It means that she or he, like 99.99% of the rest of the world at the time, made no impact on the archaeological record.”

    Ehrman (24 February 2019). “Non-Christian Sources for Jesus: An Interview with History.com”. The Bart Ehrman Blog.

    I have recently had a written interview about the historical Jesus with Christopher Klein, correspondent with History.com, the web site of the History Channel. I’m not sure what the title of the article will be; it should be appearing relatively soon, as a lead up to Easter.

    Cf. Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperOne. ISBN 9780062089946.

  2. There is much more than an ounce of truth in those words by Linforth. Very helpful and succinct. Thanks Neil.

    That is why Christianity doesn’t need any historical Christ to live out the ethics and certain beliefs of various Christian sects. The apologists insist on it because they need “proofs” that they themselves don’t understand and often live hypocritically with their own rationalistic worldview.

    I think most if not all apologists are the very thing they accuse agnostics and atheists of being–rationalists. They won’t accept only a “supernatural” or “spiritual” (god I hate that word!!) Jesus,,they need a historical Jesus, or at least their version of a historical Jesus.

    Yes, who cares if Jesus was historical….I don’t care… I don’t think the apostle Paul did either.

    2 Cor. 5:16 –17!!!!

    Interesting text indeed. Here is a translation of it from my forthcoming translation of the NT called “SCRIBE”. (I remain open to changing my translations , so since it is not published yet all my translations are tentative)

    vs. 16– “So consequently, from this very moment on, we do not estimate anyone in terms of flesh. Even if we once estimated the Anointed in terms of flesh, we now stand contrary to this and no longer recognize him in these terms.”

    vs. 17–“Another consequence is this: if anyone is in the Anointed, he is a new creation. The old order of things has finally passed away. Take a gaze! A new order of things has come into being and remains so.”

  3. This is all too elegant to be convincing. Jesus is not the same as Orpheus, or other ancient divinities, because it is a presumption of Western culture that Jesus did live in a human body.

  4. Hello, Mr. Tom Adams.

    What do you mean by “This is all too elegant to be convincing.”?? What are you referring to?

    Something I said or what the blog is referring to:: that a Historical Jesus is not necessarily needed to make a powerful historical, sociological, theological impact, etc. and a powerful writing movement for a particular cultic perspective from Judaism which did and make a real impact century after century with perceived horror and hope as the texts reveal…

    So I am assuming you agree there is much “Embellishment” through and through… it is after-all historical powerful, fantasical and imaginative literature which in itself conjures up all kinds of revelations, inspirations, interpretations, which have all kinds of fascinating things but which in there own ways simply represent personal revelations and sources for their teaching and ethics.

    I think you agree then, but I could be wrong. And the apologists of Christianity continue to deny this.. Shame on them …and they apply all the biblical texts to others and won’t apply them to themselves!!! Jesus said many times to the the so-called inside interpreters…. You like to suit the texts to yourselves….. Again… I am sorry I really don’t like Christian Apologists of any sort…. I can see all their cards even before we begin the apologetic games of theology and apologetics. I used to be an “Apocaholic” . The Apocalypse is upon us… and many years later I had to say “No More of this Bullshit re When Time Shall Be No More!

    Apologists are embarrassing themselves with tyrades about historicity….and even turning their eschatologies into histories already to capture the minds of the unstable and undiscerning..

    I usually ask the fundigelical if he has a relationship with the historical Jesus or a facsimilie or spirit copy of Jesus…? Every time they simply look at me and wonder what I am asking.. so

    So “historicists” ,,believe Jesus is historical because they have met the historical Jesus in their experience or just repeating a belief in the historical Jesus. It might be helpful if Carrier and Latster engage more with their opponents on this issue.

    I’ve been at this a long time and sometimes get weary of it all… Again, who cares whether there was a historical Jesus or not? So you apologists out there why haven’t you addressed this issue? For Christianity to survive the way you think it ought to , why do you need a historical Jesus to make it all nice for your faith?

    Most Christians I know don’t claim any relationship with a historical Christ,, but some entertain in their minds images that are so distorted it causes me to face palm most of the time.

    There are no criticisms of you here Mr. Adam. Simply raising some questions and doing a bit of ranting about all the hoopla regarding the necessity or the orthodoxy regarding some need for a historical Jesus.. It is clear in my view…whatever the historical Jesus was he is not what I read and many others read in the Gospels and the rest of the NT.

    Many apologists won’t face what is standing in front of them… a very disparate collection of texts which give off a cacophany of voices regarding Jesus…and not just some historical Jesus but a creation of creative writers who put together a composite (bri)collage of the Jesus figure in all this literature. If the historians of yester-year mention Jesus then why wouldn’t they have been interested in hunting down something he really said and did and then talk about it. ??

    the secular record is silent about this and much of it is fabricated even regarding his actual existence.

    Yes… You said Jesus did not live in a human body….please keep Jesus and Christ distinct in the literature . This is very important. Terminology is important and textual logic must be kept in check…. Jesus does not necessarily == the Christ.. These are interpretations. This was clear to Jews and others back then and still is today….

    So what do you think is going on in the NT portrayal of Jesus?



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