The Message Matters (transition post)
Transitioning away from the Christ Myth Question I’ve been addressing, which I think is important and interesting given its impact on the modern secular movement (although admittedly it has made little inroads among New Testament scholars teaching at accredited secular universities like religious studies chairs Agnostic Bart Ehrman or Christian James McGrath), here is a short 7minute video of the late, great secularist Christopher Hitchens addressing Jesus’ existence in comparison to Socrates, making the important point that what matters in the case of Socrates is the philosophy we have from him, not whether he lived:
I am reminded of an episode of Star Trek where the great ancient Klingon hero Kahless the Unforgettable returns as per prophesy, only to find out he had been cloned. The important question asked by clone Kahless is why does it matter whether the true Kahless is with us so long as his philosophies are honorable and true? It’s just a short video, 1 minute, so check it out:
For me, I think a fairly good argument can be made that Jesus existed, as Hitchens above illustrates, though I don’t believe any of the supernatural stuff, and am highly skeptical about whether we can trace the words attributed to Jesus back to him. As Robert M Price has convincingly argued, even the earliest layer of the Q source simply represents sayings with a common cynical tang, and so there is no reason to think they go back to a single sage, let alone the historical Jesus.
But, there is important philosophy in there. Nietzsche, for instance, contrasted the glory seeking desire of Achilles as the Greek ideal with the bestowing value/love on widow-orphan-stranger-enemy of Jesus. Whether this teaching actually goes back to the historical Jesus is of little difference here. Ultimately, it’s the difference between an ancient Greek addictive, tragic approach to life, vs a joyous and creative glass half full approach.
Analogously, Kant’s 3 critiques would be of the same value if they were written by someone else. When Heidegger wrote his required biography of Aristotle, he simply said of the ancient master: “He was born. He worked. And, he died.”