I’m quite surprised at the amount of debate and discussion that is taking place under the last post. As I read through the various lines of argument put forward by marc, eddie, Bishop Rick and others, my mind kept on coming back to the whole aspect of historical documents. Where do we draw the line between belief and non-belief when it comes to claims made by documents of antiquity?
On the one hand, there are Christians literalists who believe that every event recorded in the gospels, including the miracle accounts, are historically true. I don’t think this position is very defendable, for reasons that were covered in the discussion. However, is it also valid to disregard everything in the gospels as pure myth? Although there are no non-Biblical references to Jesus during his lifetime, can we not regard the gospels themselves as evidence of some sort of historical truth?
At this present time I can accept the proposition that a man, who might have had the name of Jesus, caused a brief stir in ancient Palestine, and was responsible for starting the cult that was to eventually transform into Christianity. However, I don’t believe that this man was born of a virgin, conducted miracles, rose from the dead, or was the son of God. These mythical attributes of divinity were only ascribed to him by his followers at a later stage. Although it can be argued that the gospels are heavily coloured by myth, are there not some grains of truth that we can detect within the texts?
Do you think this ‘middle ground’ view of the gospels (i.e., believing that Jesus might have existed, but rejecting the miracle claims) is defendable?