April 2009
March 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
Recent Entries
Movie Metaphysics: The Dark Knight
What's Going On Here??
Why I'm Getting Rid of Google Chrome
Twitter and Me
To the 52, From 1 Of the 48
A Note To Authors (and PR people, too)
Beat Coastal, The Sequel
Obama's Backdrop

January 05, 2006

Jesus On Trial

{So, has anyone else noticed that in spite of my resolution to post proactively, everything I've done so far has been reactive?}

Luigi Cascioli, a retired agronomist and atheist, is taking the Roman Catholic Church to court for "abusing popular credibility" by teaching that Jesus existed. A Catholic priest, Father Enrico Righi, is the immediate defendant, but the precedent that the case could set is clear -- if Father Righi is found guilty, the rest of the Catholic Church will also be guilty of breaking that same law.

From the Times of London:

[Cascioli] argued that all claims for the existence of Jesus from sources other than the Bible stem from authors who lived 'after the time of the hypothetical Jesus' and were therefore not reliable witnesses.

Signor Cascioli maintains that early Christian writers confused Jesus with John of Gamala, an anti-Roman Jewish insurgent in 1st-century Palestine. Church authorities were therefore guilty of 'substitution of persons'.

Cascioli's arguments rely on a late dating of the Gospels that most scholars have rejected in recent years. But even without that point, the merits of the lawsuit are questionable.

Jesus was, until late in the first century, an obscure figure who was put to death at a young age in a backwater part of the Roman Empire. He certainly would not have attracted much Roman attention. Most people in Rome would not have heard of Christ until after 70 AD, when Jews driven from Jerusalem arrived in Rome. And even they wouldn't have necessarily talked about Jesus. They wanted a political savior, not a religious nut who got himself crucified. The fact that we know anything about Christ at all is unusual. The fact that no Roman historians of the period wrote much about him shouldn't surprise us at all.

Cascioli writes off Tacitus, who mentions followers of Christ in his Annals. (I won't talk about Josephus, because his most famous reference is of questionable authenticity, and his reliability as an historian is something that I personally question.) He ignores the fact that there were people, living within 100 years of Christ's death, who were willing to die for their belief in him.

Of course, I'm not sure that Cascioli really exists. All I've seen are pictures (easily faked) and interviews with a man claiming to be Luigi Cascioli. And I'm sure that in a hundred years or so, nobody will believe that I really existed -- based on the same requirements that Cascioli places on Jesus of Nazareth. And we can't prove that anyone existed at the time of Christ based on his requirements. So unless we believe that Judea in the first century was a pretty desolate place, we have to allow for the existence of people who were not written about by Roman historians. That would include Jesus of Nazareth -- no matter what you may think of the religion that has grown up around Him.

Posted by Warren Kelly at January 5, 2006 08:36 PM | TrackBack
Email me!
Email Protection by Name Intelligence