The Jesus Myth
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 12/30/03
I start this
essay 2 days before Christmas in 2003 A.D. (Anno Domini- literally Latin
for in the year of the Lord). It is a few weeks since I posted a major
essay detailing the stature of 2 of 20th Century America’s most
perduring mythic events- the assassination of President John F. Kennedy &
belief in UFO Alien Abductions. The essay has gotten alot of hits-
more than just about any other essay or post in Cosmoetica history. To use the
cliché- it seems to have struck a chord. In that essay I wielded a very
handy tool- Occam’s Razor- to show that an unbiased look clearly
indicates a conspiracy in the murder of JFK, while the same sort of logic
dictates that delusion is the cause for belief in alien abductions. Now, I will
apply the same dictates of logic to the Jesus myth.
Most people- Christians or not- do not even question whether a man called Jesus even existed- they take it for granted, even as they sillily debate his ‘divinity’. Major news organizations, & major writers, do not even hesitate to grant reality to this mythic figure, even though far more credible personages are shunted to irrelevance for a variety of reasons. Even Moslems revere Jesus as a prophet, but not God; never questioning the man’s claimed historicity. Yet, unlike Mohammed, Confucius, or the Buddha there has yet to have been found even 1 single contemporaneous document that mentions any such man, much less the mysterious & public goings on regarding his trial, crucifixion, & resurrection, nor is there a single artifact pointing to the fact that anyone even resembling JC existed in the 1st Century AD, or before or after. As for the actual birth or birthdate- even less exists. Now, I am not a Christian, nor a religiot of any stripe- but I do find the reasons people believe in any myth system (which is what religion is) over another, as well as believing in any at all, to be both innately interesting, as well as possibly instructive in to our collective self-knowledge as a species. That said, let’s look at the ‘evidence’, or more properly its lack, for the existence of that most currently famous ‘Son of God’- for there have been many.
1 of the
frustrating things that any seeker of info runs into, whether poring over books
or scouring the Internet, is the incredibly (&, through time, increasingly)
Byzantine nature of any strongly held belief system- be it the assassination of
JFK, UFOs, or anything religious. Not only that, but the utter plethora of texts
pro & con any given subject matter- &, unfortunately most of them are
very poorly written & even more poorly thought out- especially those on the
side of illogic.
Let me now detail a few of the major reasons that the Jesus Christ of Christian mythos almost certainly did not exist- &, believe me, there are 100s, but only the most manifest need bringing out in this essay. For those seeking a full laundry list, happy Googling!
1) Not a single contemporaneous mention of the man- not 1! Even though, according to the Bible, this legend drew multitudes wherever he went, was accorded a public trial, crucifixion, burial, & resurrection.
2) The 1st written accounts (Biblical or extra-Biblical come at least 40 years after JC’s supposed death.
3) Manifest similarities to prior world myths which highly point to Christian pilferage of main storylines.
examine point 1. The Roman world in the 1st Century AD was 1 of the
earliest civilizations to allow mass communication via presses, as well as
detailing the daily public in terms of detailed records of economic trade,
recreational activities & sports records, as well as records of legal &
political proceedings. If JC was such a thorn, & so famous, why is not a
single mention of him included in any contemporaneous records? Rome kept
detailed lists of convicted criminals, & especially their trademark
punition: crucifixions. Yet, bupkus!
As for the 1st mention of JC by anyone, I went through literally over 100 websites (both pro & con JC’s existence) & the evidence is pretty clear & consistent that no one wrote of JC within 40 years of his death, minimum. Even JC apologists unwittingly admit this- I’ll give you the hilarious proof later! Let me now review some of the major claimants for JC mention & give my comments. 1st the extra-Biblical:
1) Flavius Josephus- this mystic of the Pharisee sect was a Jew of ill-repute (a dubious military record & a will to fabulate amongst other black marks) & born in 37 AD. Since most Biblical scholars believe Jesus lived to be anywhere from 30-33 years old & was born anywhere between 7 BC & 4 AD that gives us a range of 23 & 37 AD as a 14 year window for the supposed crucifixion of JC. So, unless the fetal FJ was mediuming JC’s life in the womb, everything he wrote is hearsay- which is not acceptable nor legal in most courts of law, nor is it accepted historical practice. Still, he’s the earliest extra-Biblical mention of JC. The book in which he mentions JC- Antiquities of the Jews- is accepted as having been penned in about 93 AD (& BTW, even though not a Christian I find the BC & AD markers perfectly acceptable vis-ŕ-vis the BCE-CE equivalents- much for the same reason I do not sexify the suffix –man when describing professions!). Most also see his works as having possibly been bowdlerized by his later self & others who lived even later- most notably a Church elder named Eusebius. Even still, his work- 6 decades past the event- is quite ho-hum, as well as puzzling. Here’s the famous quote:
time, there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man.
For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such
people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks.
He was the Messiah.
When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing amongst us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love him did not give up their affection for him. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life, for the prophets of God had prophesied these and countless other marvelous things about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.’
Now, the Pharisees were a bunch of fanatics who loathed Christians & all they stood for. Would 1 of them really, rather blithely, say JC was the Messiah? & to matter-of-factly report on such a miracle as the resurrection of a dead man? These & many other discrepancies tend to invalidate the veracity of FJ’s claims; but even did they not, he still was not a contemporary, only reporting hearsay & legend.
2) Pliny the Younger- This Roman functionary was even farther removed than FJ- being born a quarter century later 62 AD. Apparently he wrote a letter about Christians, yet it is so larded with Christian mythos that he manifestly was just writing what others- probably Christian fanatics- relayed to him. More hearsay!
3) Tacitus- A Roman historian
who was born after PtY- in 64 AD. From 109-120 AD he wrote a history called Annals
where he briefly mentions JC- or rather, in truth, someone named ‘Chrystus’.
1st off- this is different from ‘Christ’, there’s no
appellation of ‘Jesus’, & both were common names- in fact Christ
was usually a title, not a name. Also, Tacitus gives no reference for his
mention, & even if he did his account is still hearsay. Here’s the quote:
‘Therefore, to quelch the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd called Christians. Chrystus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus’
This rather throwaway mention is what JC believers cling to? 1st off, notice the title old PP has- procurator. Many of the online websites point out the historical inaccuracy of this. Procurator was a title not granted until after about 80 AD. The correct term was prefect. He also makes no mention of ‘Jesus’ just the usage of the Chrystus name as if it were a title.
4) Suetonius- Another Roman historian (see how many of them there were?). He was only born in 69 AD. Even farther removed he mentions a ‘Chrestus’ in 1 of his works. But this was a common name as well, & not directly tied to Christ or any title. More & more hearsay.
Now to the Biblical sources: the New Testament consists of several types
of books, & all of these were specifically chosen & vetted by several
councils of Church leaders 100s of years after JC’s supposed life. Still, the
books are so contradictory, rife with errors of geography, astronomy, &
manifest censorship, that their historical worth is virtually nil. Do they
mention real people & places? Yes- but because Ulysses says that
Leopold Bloom wandered around Dublin, Ireland on June 6th, 1904 AD,
does not make it so!
The heart of the NT are the 4 Gospels (de facto biographies of JC’s ‘life’): Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John- the 1st 4 books of the NT- in that order! But, before going on it should be noted that the terms ‘The Gospel According to Saint ______’ contain some explaining. 1st, those lengthy titles were not added until nearly 200 AD. Also, think of this- the writers of the 1st 4 Gospels were not ‘saints’ until canonized centuries later, when there was a church ritual & apparatus for such! Even more appalling, is that there is little proof that the 4 titular Gospel writers existed, & almost none directly tying the scantly known ‘presumptive’ authors to the Gospels themselves! It is only by the mention of a person named Irenaeus of Lyons, in 180 AD, that the 4 Gospels have been credited to their respective ‘saints’. Dozens of earlier writers & historians had heard neither of the writers nor their books! More intriguingly, even Irenaeus’s mention is suspect, because he attributes the ‘naturality’ of only 4 Gospels to their being like the 4 Classical elements, the 4 winds, the 4 cardinal directions, & the 4 quarters of the earth. I got these points from many pro-& anti-Jesus myth factions. Note how endebted (read- stealing blindly) early Christianity is to pagan myths & ideas!
Also, all 4 of the Gospels were written decades (at earliest) after JC’s supposed life & death, meaning they were not eyewitness accounts, or- at the least, the dim memories of improbably old men. Recall that the average lifespan in the Middle East 2000 years ago was about 30 years (interestingly the archetypal age of JC at his death- perhaps symbolizing his ‘universal appeal’). So, assuming the 4 Gospelers were running buddies of JC their accounts would have been penned by men from 70-110 years old at the time of their writing. Not likely, & even less likely to be accurate even if 1 stretches credulity. Yet, even the Gospels contradict each other on many major points of JC’s life, pointing to a legendry already cooking. Lest why all the contradictions? The earliest (Mark’s- assumed to be written between 70 & 90 AD) is the barest, while the later Gospels contain embellishments of tales, & additional sayings, & are significantly longer. Matthew & Luke are rife with factual errors not even concerning JC, + they tell different tales of JC’s lineage. They also conflict in their accounts of famed events like the ‘Sermon On The Mount’- Matthew claimed it was given before multitudes, while Luke claimed it was a private meeting with the 12 Disciples. Were these true accounts they would have been penned earlier & had much more convincing personal anecdotes. Yet, even granting that the 4 might have been consciously writing hagiographies, not biographies, their believability is damaged by a lack of fidelity to their known world- geography, customs, & even popular culture of the day.
The last of the Gospels, John (written 110-115 AD) treats JC much more metaphysically & metaphorically than the others. Is this the natural progression of supposedly ‘true’ accounts to a more consciously mythic account? Still, the Gospels are so over-the-top & manifestly mythic, that the reason that there is no confirmation for much of their claims is obvious. No 1 seriously took them as true. Why else would such an event as this only exist in a Gospel?:
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour...Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. (Matthew 27:45-53)
voluminous records exist in the Middle East of this fantastic solar eclipse?
Things such as that were well known & even predictable then. Not to mention
the ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ scenario which followed? Would not at
least 1 of ‘the many’ write it down, notify some government agent or scribe
about this ruckus from such a famed troublemaker- now, 1 who would not let the
poor Romans rest, even after they killed him? This is obviously myth, ladies
As for Biblical sources that are non-Gospel, let’s look at some of the epistles. There are the letters of Saul (cum Paul)- which are believed to date from about 50 AD- still after the fact, but if true they could still plausibly relate facts known to the still living. Unfortunately Saul was a major lunatic- most historians on both sides of the JC myth admit he was a basket case. & his letters? Well, old Saul claims he never met JC, except in his visions. While this does nothing to their possible literary import- think William Blake or Ezra Pound- it does mean that his letters are worthless as historical documents.
More tellingly than what was written of JC, is what was not written of him. Several websites give lists of noted authors contemporaneous with JC, who never made any mention of this supposedly god-like man who drew crowds in the 100s of 1000s, according to the Bible. The best list is from a book by a John E. Remsburg, The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence. Here is a partial list of authors from within a century of JC’s ‘life’:
Apollonius, Appian, Aulus Gellius, Epictetus, Justus of Tiberius, Juvenal, Lucanus, Lucian, Martial, Petronius, Pliny the Elder, Plutarch, Ptolemy, Seneca, & Valerius Maximus
These were all people who wrote much of life in the Mediterranean. Yet, none of these scrupulous recordkeepers, storytellers, & historians from many nations even mentions JC. This is the equivalent of all the major news organizations of all the nations in the world during the middle part of the 20th Century being oblivious to the deeds & death of Mahatma Gandhi- the nearest Christ-like analogue of the past few centuries.
Varieties Of Jesus
Yet, other problems exist in the search for a ‘real’ JC. The 1st
problem is that Jesus & its variant names were popular in the region
of that day- it would be like looking up a Michael Jones today in America &
trying to find out which 1- in 2000 years, was the MJ who lived in America &
lived past the age of 60. The 2nd part is that the JC of myth is so
manifestly a crib of other, older religions & myths, that to deny those
influences is to really give up all claim to impartiality in the matter.
Let us look at some of the more prominent Middle Eastern Jesuses of the day. I won’t even bother with all the itinerant prophets who claimed to be the Messiah, because they numbered in literally the 1000s in the few centuries pre- & post-1 AD. Most of the following information was gleaned from the http://hometown.aol.com/siob/, www.jesusneverexisted.com/, & www.truthbeknown.com websites.
1st off, it’s important to know that that ‘Jesus’ as a name had many other variant forms in the Hebrew & Aramaic tongues of the day. Among them were Joshua, Yeshua, & Jason. These names were interchangeable & often the Jason or Joshua of 1 text was the Jesus of another- this is pointed out by asserted places & dates of birth being in accord. Also, there is the business of translation- often the variants of Jesus & Joshua were mistakenly translated as variants of James & Jacob. That said, in a book by a Harold Leidner, called The Fabrication of the Christ Myth he lists just some of the more bandied about & well-known Jesuses- many of whom have unconfirmed realities:
1. Jesus son of Naue
2. Jesus son of Saul
3. Jesus, high priest, son of Phineas
4. Jesus son of the high priest Jozadak
5. Jesus son of Joiada
6. Jesus, high priest, son of Simon
7. Jesus, high priest, son of Phabes
8. Jesus, high priest, son of See
9. Jesus the Christ
10. Jesus son of Damnaeus, became high priest
11. Jesus son of Gamaliel, became high priest
12. Jesus son of Sapphas
13. Jesus, chief priest, probably to be identified with 10 or 11
14. Jesus son of Gamalas, high priest
15. Jesus, brigand chief on borderland of Ptolemais
16. Jesus son of Sapphias
17. Jesus brother of Chares
18. Jesus a Galilean, perhaps to be identified with 15
19. Jesus in ambuscade, perhaps to be identified with 16
20. Jesus, priest, son of Thebuthi
Jesus, son of Ananias, rude peasant, prophesies the fall of Jerusalem.
Here’s an interesting bit on the virtual breeding ground of blind faith that awaited many who claimed to be the Messiah:
‘Among these many Jesuses is Jesus, son of Naue, also known as Joshua, son of Nun, the Old Testament messianic figure who supposedly led the Israelites into the Promised Land after Moses failed to do so. It has been demonstrated over the past couple of centuries, and confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls, that there was a sort of "Joshua" cult long before the Christian era, revolving around this important Israelite "hero." Apparently, however, "Joshua" or Yeshua ("Savior") was an ancient Canaanite god usurped by the followers of the volcano god Yahweh. In any case, Joshua's position in the Old Testament is one of high estimation: He is the heir to Moses as God's spokesman and will on earth. Joshua is essentially the messiah, and it would seem that members of the northern kingdom, such as those Israelites who eventually became called "Samaritans," virtually worshipped him.’
Joshua was also known as Yeshua ben Nun or Jesus of the fish.
A fish is a symbol of Christ- already it is easy to see the confusion of
symbolism. The name Yeshua actually was a title meaning Yahweh Saves. It
is thought that the plethora of Jesuses came from the plethora of men not named
‘Jesus’ but who claimed to be ‘a Jesus’. This is similar to what
happened in 5th century England where the cult & myth of King
Arthur arose after the Battle of Camlaan. While no king or leader named Arthur
ever existed there is intriguing evidence that the name Arthur (of the Bear)
was also originally a title, not a proper name, & there may have been a # or
Arthurs whose lives were amalgamated into the mythic king’s mythos.
Here’s some more interesting snippets:
the first century Jewish historian mentions no fewer than nineteen
different Yeshuas/Jesii, about half of them contemporaries of the supposed
Christ! In his Antiquities, of the twenty -eight high priests who held
office from the reign of Herod the Great to the fall of the Temple, no fewer
than four bore the name Jesus: Jesus ben Phiabi, Jesus ben Sec, Jesus ben
Damneus and Jesus ben Gamaliel. Even Saint Paul makes reference to a rival
magician, preaching ‘another Jesus’ (2 Corinthians 11,4). The surfeit
of early Jesuses includes:
Jesus ben Sirach, reputedly the author of the Book of Sirach (aka 'Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach'), part of Old Testament apocrypha. This Jesus, writing in Greek about 180 B.C.E., brought together Jewish 'wisdom' and Homeric-style heroes.
Jesus ben Pandira. A wonder-worker during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (106-79 B.C.), one of the most ruthless of the Maccabean kings. Imprudently, this Jesus launched into a career of end-time prophesy and agitation which upset the king. He met his own premature end-time by being hung on a tree – and on the eve of a Passover. Scholars have speculated this Jesus founded the Essene sect.
Jesus ben Ananias. Beginning in 62AD, this Jesus had caused disquiet in Jerusalem with a non-stop doom-laden mantra of ‘Woe to the city’. He prophesied rather vaguely:
'A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against the whole people.'
(Josephus, Wars 6:3)
Arrested and flogged by the Romans, he was released as nothing more dangerous than a mad man. He died during the siege of Jerusalem from a rock hurled by a Roman catapult.
Jesus ben Saphat. In the insurrection of 68AD that wrought havoc in Galilee, this Jesus had led the rebels in Tiberias. When the city was about to fall to Vespasian’s legionaries he fled north to Tarichea on the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus ben Gamala. During 68/69 AD this Jesus was a leader of the ‘peace party’ in the civil war wrecking Judaea. From the walls of Jerusalem he had remonstrated with the besieging Idumeans (led by ‘James and John, sons of Susa’). It did him no good. When the Idumeans breached the walls he was put to death and his body thrown to the dogs and carrion birds.
Jesus ben Thebuth. A priest who, in the final capitulation of the upper city in 69AD, saved his own skin by surrendering the treasures of the Temple, which included two holy candlesticks, goblets of pure gold, sacred curtains and robes of the high priests. The booty figured prominently in the Triumph held for Vespasian and his son Titus.
Also, a # of
Jesuses were crucified by the Romans- records show this; but none was a Jesus
bearing any designation as JC, or ‘Jesus of Nazareth’, & none were more
noteworthy than a cursory mention. The most well-known, verifiable Jesus was
Jesus ben Stada- a Judean agitator who plagued the Romans after 100 AD. He was
crucified in Lydda a town near Jerusalem.
In fact, many of the towns mentioned in the Bible that Jesus lived in &/or preached have yet to be verified archaeologically. Interestingly, not a single non-Christian town or city has not been verified. This is a hallmark of myth, folks. Even more stunning, is the fact that there is not any credible physical evidence that a town named Nazareth, JC’s claimed hometown, existed until centuries after JC’s claimed existence. Modern-day Nazareth’s earliest structures date, conclusively, only to about 300 AD, & some artifacts date a little over a century earlier- still 150 or so years shy of JC’s life & death.
Since we’ve dealt with predecessor & contemporary ‘Jesuses’ let us now look at mythic siblings to the Christ myth- noting that all of them predated Christianity by a few centuries-eons. The Occam’s Razor evidence for borrowing & stealing narratives is rife & manifest. While a few online sources were helpful I relied mostly on the books Who’s Who In Classical Mythology, edited by M.Grant & J. Hazel (1973), The Encyclopedia Of Myths And Legends, edited by Stuart Gordon (1995), & The Religions Of Man, by Huston Smith (1986) for information in this section.
Interestingly, most ‘Sons of God’ myths are really analogous to ‘Suns of God’ myths. Virtually all the Sons are gods of the sun. The sun is an almost universal allegory for male virility, as well. The sun also represents light & goodness, qualities all the Sun Gods possess. Let me now detail some of the predecessor Sun Gods & see their links to the JC mythos. Perhaps the most direct was the Egyptian god Horus, which predates Christianity by at least 2500 years. Some of the elements of that myth are too close (& often identical) to the JC myth to be ignored: Horus & his father Osiris (sometimes an earlier version named Atum) were aspects of the same being- with a 3rd element- the Holy Spirit Ra, Horus/Osiris were all-seeing (the eye at the pyramid’s top on the back of a $1 U.S. bill is Horus’s), he was baptized by water to cleanse him of sin, was a ‘Good Shepherd’, walked on water, was also represented at times by a Lamb & a Lion, a man of suffering, an avenger, & had 12 followers, was born of a virgin- Isis, in a manger, lit by a star & followed by 3 wise men. He was also crucified & resurrected, as well as resurrecting a man named El-Azar-us! He was referred to by the 4 ineffable letters- KRST. Scary?
Other sun gods of note were Osiris, Hercules, Mithra, Hermes, Prometheus, Perseus, & Krishna. Krishna, like Horus, is almost identical to the JC mythos, yet predates JC by about 1500 years. Here are just a few of the over 100 notable similarities: Krishna is also spelt ‘Cristna’, had a virgin mother- Devaki, a father who was a carpenter, was gifted with gold, frankincense, & myrrh at his birth, avoided early death from a paranoid king who had ordered infants murdered, was baptized, lived among the needy, spoke in parables, performed many miracles- included curing lepers & raising the dead, was crucified (in the earliest mythic versions), resurrected to Heaven, part of a Trinity, & was called a ‘Shepherd’, ‘Redeemer’, & ‘Jezeus’ meaning ‘purity of being’, as well as being prepared for a final apocalyptic showdown with the forces of evil.
The Truth Be Known website gives this list of these & other JC predecessors:
‘The Jesus story incorporated elements from the tales of other deities recorded in this widespread area, such as many of the following world saviors and "sons of God," most or all of whom predate the Christian myth, and a number of whom were crucified or executed.
· Adad of Assyria
· Adonis, Apollo, Heracles ("Hercules") and Zeus of Greece
· Alcides of Thebes
· Attis of Phrygia
· Baal of Phoenicia
· Bali of Afghanistan
· Beddru of Japan
· Buddha of India
· Crite of Chaldea
· Deva Tat of Siam
· Hesus of the Druids
· Horus, Osiris, and Serapis of Egypt, whose long-haired, bearded appearance was adopted for the Christ character
· Indra of Tibet/India
· Jao of Nepal
· Krishna of India
· Mikado of the Sintoos
· Mithra of Persia
· Odin of the Scandinavians
· Prometheus of Caucasus/Greece
· Quetzalcoatl of Mexico
· Salivahana of Bermuda
· Tammuz of Syria (who was, in a typical mythmaking move, later turned into the disciple Thomas)
· Thor of the Gauls
· Universal Monarch of the Sibyls
· Wittoba of the Bilingonese
· Xamolxis of Thrace
· Zarathustra/Zoroaster of Persia
· Zoar of the Bonzes’
Let me now do
a little comparison with another of the more famed of these ‘pre-Christs’. 1st
I’ll touch on the Buddha- aka Siddhartha Gautama, who reputedly lived about
500 BC. Like JC there is not ample contemporary mention of him to definitively
establish SG as a real person, although there is more than JC’s. This did
nothing to stop mythologizing from occurring- & notice how these story arcs
are so similar to JC’s: Buddha’s mother was a Virgin named Maya, walked on
water, battled serpents, had 12 followers, healed the ill & wounded, fed
multitudes with a small basket of biscuits, taught love & equality. He also
was against idolatry, was assumed upon a mountaintop, died, spent 3 days in
hell, was resurrected to Nirvana, & was accorded many appellations such as
‘The Light of Nirvana’, ‘The Good Shepherd’, & ‘He Who Is
Still thinking JC is unique? How about a list of Prometheus’s ‘Christ-likenesses’? & he predates JC by nearly 1500 years, as well. Prometheus was sent to Earth to save Man- whom he had created out of dust & clay, was called ‘The Word’, was crucified & resurrected as the sun went dark, could see the future, was regenerative, the bringer of wisdom, Savior of Man from a worldwide flood, & a woodworker extraordinaire.
Yet another Greek JC precursor was Heracles (or Hercules to the Romans)- who freed Prometheus from his Father’s- Zeus’s- chains. You will see that to deny Heracles’ existence, yet endorse JC’s is an act of willful blindness & prejudice toward 1 belief system, & against another- nothing more. Let’s look at Heracles’ similarities: he was both a man & a god, born of a mortal (Alcmena) & immortal (Zeus), & persecuted at birth by Hera (it was Herod who wanted to off JC- notice the similar names?). The grown Heracles was itinerant, sworn to help those in need, & achieved this with miraculous displays of superhuman powers. He achieved godhead after death & resurrection to his Heaven (Mount Olympus), was taken as a literal man for centuries in Greece & Rome, & was mentioned by known historical people- Homer, Hesiod, Plato, Aesop. Even those old scribes Tacitus & Flavius Josephus mention Heracles, as they does JC. Still, there is not a single contemporary account for Heracles- as there is none for JC. So, why is JC accorded reality while Heracles is tossed in the mythic dustbin? Because most in the Western World of today are Christians, or influenced by it, & not Olympians. That is the only difference between Heracles & JC! Factual evidence for both men is nonexistent- only the faith of Christians for JC exists in them, while the same for Heracles does not. Facts need not faith, but evidence. Heracles’ differs from JC not on lack of factual evidence, but lack of faith, alone. Not convinced? Need more?
OK, there’s the god from ancient Persia called Mithra. Mithraism, in fact, had a pope centuries before Christianity, & celebrated its Sabbath on Sunday- not the usual Saturday of other contemporary religions. The god, himself had 12 disciples, died & was resurrected in 3 days, was born on 12/25, was called ‘The Good Shepherd’, ‘The Redeemer’, ‘The Savior’, & ‘The Light’, was also symbolized by both lion & lamb, & held a ‘Last Supper’ before his death.
All of these Sun/Son Gods are killed & resurrected, have similar appellations, have 12 followers or perform 12 Labors- this is because of the death & rebirth (daily) of the sun, as well as the lunar months being recognized with Zodiacal signs- or their equivalents. Many of them are born on 12/25 (our their calendrical equivalents) because these religiot-cum astronomers saw that the sun sinks lower & lower until 12/21 or 22, then stops its motion (or ‘dies’) for 3 days before ‘rising’. Other astral clues abound in these myths of Sun Gods- many of these Middle Eastern cultures recognized Virgo as the year’s beginning- hence the sun was born from the Virgin, the sun’s corona is a ‘crown’, the sun is the “Light itself’, the sun’s 12 helpers are the Zodiac, the sun’s light can walk upon water, the sun rise saves Man each day. Even more obscure- some websites contain these gems: the sun at noon is in the house of the ‘Most High’- therefore begins his Father’s work at 12; & the sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30°- therefore the Son of God begins his teachings at 30.
Here’s an etymological snippet from the Truth Be Known website that is also worth a read:
‘Zeus, aka "Zeus Pateras," who we now automatically believe to be a myth and not a historical figure, takes his name from the Indian version, "Dyaus Pitar." Dyaus Pitar in turn is related to the Egyptian "Ptah," and from both Pitar and Ptah comes the word "pater," or "father." "Zeus" equals "Dyaus," which became "Deos," "Deus" and "Dios" - "God." "Zeus Pateras," like Dyaus Pitar, means, "God the Father," a very ancient concept that in no way originated with "Jesus" and Christianity. There is no question of Zeus being a historical character. Dyaus Pitar becomes "Jupiter" in Roman mythology, and likewise is not representative of an actual, historical character. In Egyptian mythology, Ptah, the Father, is the unseen god-force, and the sun was viewed as Ptah's visible proxy who brings everlasting life to the earth; hence, the "son of God" is really the "sun of God." Indeed, according to Hotema, the very name "Christ" comes from the Hindi word "Kris" (as in Krishna), which is a name for the sun.
Furthermore, since Horus was called "Iusa/Iao/Iesu" the "KRST," and Krishna/Christna was called "Jezeus," centuries before any Jewish character similarly named, it would be safe to assume that Jesus Christ is just a repeat of Horus and Krishna, among the rest….Hotema states that the name "Jesus Christ" was not formally adopted in its present form until after the first Council of Nicea, i.e., in 325 C.E.
In actuality, even the place names and the appellations of many other characters in the New Testament can be revealed to be Hebraicized renderings of the Egyptian texts.
As an example, in the fable of "Lazarus," the mummy raised from the dead by Jesus, the Christian copyists did not change his name much, "El-Azar-us" being the Egyptian mummy raised from the dead by Horus possibly 1,000 years or more before the Jewish version. This story is allegory for the sun reviving its old, dying self, or father, as in "El-Osiris." It is not a true story.
Horus's principal enemy - originally Horus's other face or "dark" aspect - was "Set" or "Sata," whence comes "Satan." Horus struggles with Set in the exact manner that Jesus battles with Satan, with 40 days in the wilderness, among other similarities. This is because this myth represents the triumph of light over dark, or the sun's return to relieve the terror of the night.’
So, it’s obvious that there were many Jesuses for which to interpolate a pre-existent mythos for early Christian purposes. The same is true for virtually every Jewish character in the Bible- from Moses to Noah to Joshua, & many more, these core Biblical tales are fundamentally steals & grafts from other cultures- but why not? The Jews are famed borrowers & reworkers. Is it out of the question that they borrowed the Christ myth from others, then had the Christians rework the mythos out from under them?
So why do so many Christian apologists deny the manifest? Let’s look at some of their objections & see how they inadvertently slip up, as well as engage in deception, & ad hominem when the reality is shown to them. This bit is from http://www.bede.org.uk/jesusmyth.htm. I will give key points & refute them:
The thesis that Jesus never existed has hovered around the fringes of research into the New Testament for centuries but never been able to become an accepted theory. This is for good reason, as it is simply a bad hypothesis based on arguments from silence, special pleading and an awful lot of wishful thinking. It is ironic that atheists will buy into this idea and leave all their pretensions of critical thinking behind.
Let’s see who’s critical & who’s not.
It is not my intention to study the minutiae of the argument but instead focus on three central points which are often brought up on discussion boards. These are the lack of secular references, the alleged similarities to paganism and the silence of Paul. Finally I want to bring all these together to show how ideas similar to those that deny Jesus' existence can be used on practically any ancient historical figure. With this in mind I set out to prove that Hannibal never existed.
The author has set himself up for a big fall.
Occasionally people ask why there is no record of Jesus in Roman records. The answer is that there are no surviving Roman records but only highly parochial Roman historians who had little interest in the comings and goings of minor cults and were far more concerned about Emperors and Kings. Jesus made a very small splash while he was alive and there was no reason for Roman historians to notice him.
Yet, we have seen how Christians have declaimed Christ’s fame far & wide. Why would Roman historians never notice him if the politicians of the day were in a panic? This is subjective editing of facts that contradict the writer’s POV- & facts presented by those on the writer’s side! This lack of consistency is typical of Christian & other apologists.
Once Christianity was established as a major cult in the Empire then Jesus became rather more interesting and he is mentioned by Tacitus in the early second century. However, Jesus Mythologists counter this by claiming that he could have got his information from Christians which means his evidence is not independent. So, we have a very convenient situation for the Jesus Mythologists. Until Christianity had spread no one except Christians would be interested in Jesus but all later records are ruled out of court as they are tainted by association with Christianity. This sort of special pleading is one of the reasons that modern historians have no time for these theories as they are set up to be impossible to disprove.
Again, this is in direct opposition to what the ‘inerrant’ Bible, itself, says. Also, we see that the historical reference is well after JC’s supposed life. In fact, modern historians readily ascribe to logic, unlike the author.
In fact, Christian evidence for a human Jesus who was crucified is trustworthy because it ran counter to the myths of the time and suggested that he had suffered a humiliating death. If they made it up and then suppressed the truth with clinical efficiency, why did they come up with a story which even the Christian apologist, Tertullian, admitted was absurd? It seems far more likely that they had a large number of historical facts that they had to rationalise into a religion rather than creating all these difficulties for themselves.
Yet, we see this is patently false- the JC mythos is so endebted to other myths that to deny this fact is to practice willful blindness to an absurd end.
Sometimes Jesus Mythologists will produce long lists of writers none of whom have the slightest reason to mention an obscure Jewish miracle worker and somehow think this strengthens their point. In fact, it has all the relevance of picking fifty books off your local library shelf and finding that none of them mention Carl Sagan. Does that mean he did not exist either? Jesus was not even a failed military leader of the kind that Romans might have noticed - especially if he had been defeated by someone famous.
This is so ridiculous- but, again, the Bible itself states that JC was a MAJOR thorn on the Romans’ sides- & was hardly ‘obscure’. Can you say ‘eat my cake & have it, too’? After some more nonsense trying, & failing, to make Flavius Josephus relevant, then not (even as he is utterly superfluous since he lived after JC’s supposed life), the writer turns to this pitiable & unwittingly satiric jab at his own arguments:
Allegations that Christianity is an adaptation of a pagan religion have been around for ages….With this is in mind I present "Bede's Guide to the Production of a Best-seller that Undermines the Roots of Christianity". With this I can guarantee that you will be able to find all the parallels you like between paganism and Christianity or indeed, properly adapted, between any other two unrelated subjects that you care to name.
1. The first thing to do is ensure you cast your net as widely as possible. So within Christianity you should include every cult, heresy and sect you can get your hands on. Gnosticism will be particularly helpful as they did indeed borrow large chunks of pagan thought which is partly why they were considered heretics in the first place. As for paganism, this can include just about everything. Freke and Gandy comb not only Greek cults (Oedipus) but also Egyptian (Horus and Osiris), Roman (Bacchus) and Persian (Mithras). Elsewhere you will find Celtic deities, Norse beserkers and Indian mystics pulled into the fray. Now, with this vast body of writing, finding parallels will not be too challenging provided you are willing to wade through it all.
So, this is a refutation- not an endorsement, right?
2. But don't restrict yourselves to pagan religions from before the time of Christ. Remember your methodology should be that Christians copied pagans and not the other way around. This is useful because you can now point to similarities between paganism and Christianity after the latter was already widespread. So if, like Freke and Gandy, you can find a picture showing Bacchus on a cross dating from two hundred years after Jesus was crucified you can still claim that the Christians copied the pagans and not the other way around.
even assuming that a piece of art post-dates JC it has no bearing on the fact that
Bacchus & the other Sun Gods predate JC. So what’s the point? It’s to
add verbal heft to a weightless argument. Again, this actually & unwittingly
undermines the writer’s claims.
3. Language is important. Christian terms such as 'salvation', 'Eucharist', 'word made flesh' and 'lamb of god' are common currency today. Therefore when translating or paraphrasing pagan sources always use modern Christian language. Never mind that the ancient pagans would not have known what you were on about - you are not talking to them. In this way you can call a woman being raped by various kinds of wildlife a 'virgin birth', you can call having ones body parts stuck back together a 'resurrection' and you can call just about every Greek hero a 'son of god'. Also it is helpful to use King James Bible phrases and style when quoting pagan texts. It gives them some more gravitas.
Most of the ‘Virgin Births’ were as ‘Virgin’ as Yahweh’s impregnation of Mary. Just what is so different from the philandering Yahweh & the horny Zeus, anyway, is never detailed. The attempt at semiotics naturally fails, especially considering how poorly the Christians, & predecessor Jews, covered up their steals.
4. Do try to confuse liturgy and practice with history. For instance the mystery religions and Christianity were both underground movements so they had to operate in similar sorts of ways. Sacred meals and ritual washing are as old as religion itself so the Christianity using them as well as pagans is not surprising at all. Make it sound like a complete revelation.
does nothing but inadvertently give pre-lineage to practices supposedly
‘new’ to Christianity. 2 feet & 2 hands have been shot. How many more
limbs to go?
5. Say totally different things are in fact closely related. For instance, Mithras was sometimes represented by a bull. Say this is the same as Jesus being called the lamb of God (ignoring that one is a symbol of sexuality and strength and the other of innocence and humility). Compare the Mithric ritual of taking a shower in the warm blood of the aforementioned bull with Christian baptism with water. Claim that the thieves crucified with Jesus are the same as a pair of torch bearers that appear on some illustrations of Bacchus.
Notice this- the author says ‘sometimes’ in reference to Mithra’s being represented by a bull. This implies that sometimes he was not, for we know the lamb & lion (Christ symbols) were also used. The author again unwittingly kills his own arguments. As for Bacchus; rarely identified with JC- this is just distraction, or white noise to set up an easily refuted argument for 1 that was never proposed in the 1st place.
6. For goodness sake do not mention the things that really made the pagan mysteries interesting. After all your work of showing that Jesus and Bacchus are one and the same, you will lose everything if you let on that Bacchus was the god of drunkenness and his worship involved getting plastered and having sex with anything in sight (goats being a particular favourite). In fact, keep sex out of it altogether. Yes, sex was the central feature of an awful lot of these pagan rituals but that is not the point your are (sic) trying to make.
Nor is that a
point that disproves connections since many cultures have variances from core
myths. So what?
7. Avoid up to date scholarship which will probably pour cold water over your vaunted theories. You will find plenty of nineteenth and early twentieth century writers with a bone to pick that can support your wildest speculations. And do not worry if not everyone agrees with you - you can always dismiss the dissenters as apologists or as those unable to cope with your earth shattering ideas.
This assertion is actually true- in the inverse! The more detailed the scholarship becomes the slimmer the reed upon which any claims to reality hinge! Then the author details Paul’s non-silence. But, as we’ve seen, Paul (aka Saul) was a nutcase, yet even he admitted he never met Jesus- only had visions! Yet the author parses the writings of this admitted loony tune & non-acquaintance as if they have any relevance! Yet this is so typical of apologists- especially the ever-paranoid Christian Rightists. Here’s another logically pretzeled piece of writing to be found at http://www.digisys.net/users/ddalton/never_existed.htm. Again I will parse:
Often people are uncertain about the existence of Christ, but few
scholars would disagree that a man named Jesus lived roughly between 2 BC and
about 33 AD. History documents that this man was not a myth but a real person
and the historical evidence for this is excellent. For instance, the Roman
historian Tacitus, writing in about 115 A.D., records the events surrounding
Emperor Nero in July of A.D. 64. After the fire that destroyed much of Rome,
Nero was blamed for being responsible: "Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and
inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations,
called Christians by the populace. Christus [Christ], from whom the name had its
origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands
of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition
[Christ's resurrection] thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in
Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous
and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.
we’ve seen how irrelevant this is since it occurs 8 decades after JC’s
alleged death, & is historically inaccurate in its description of PP- do not
these apologists have anything better? Also, note the phrase ‘few
scholars would disagree’. This means even the writer admits that there are
scholars who do. The size is not irrelevant because obviously it’s enough to
spur the writer to arms- so it must be deemed threatening by the writer, in
order for him to mention it! Thus the statement is fundamentally dishonest &
attempting to persuade by literary technique, not logic!
These passages indicate that Christianity was wide spread in the Roman empire within 80 years of Christ's death. Again, these are eyewitness accounts, not historians looking back years later.
Reread your own writing, man! This is a looking back- not a contemporaneous ‘eyewitness account’.
The popular historian Will Durant, himself not a Christian, wrote concerning Christ's historical validity, "The denial of that existence seems never to have occurred even to the bitterest gentile or Jewish opponents of nascent Christianity" (Durant, The Story of Civilization, vol. 3, p. 555). And again, "That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels" (Ibid., p. 557).
It is a substantial thing that an historian who spends his life considering historical facts should affirm the reality of Christ's existence as well as the rapid growth of the early movement.
1) We’ve seen that there was no early need to deny since there was no claim of anything to deny. 2) WD is flat-out wrong that the making of myth is miraculous- it’s ordinary. This is hyperbole that the writer seeks as credibility based on name endorsement alone. He proves this is so by 3) the blatant appeal to an authority figure (WD), without providing any backup from that figure, or any other 1! By definition this is ‘insubstantial’. Even more damning is when the author goes off on an anti-evolutionary tirade. Even though this has nothing to do with the JC mythos, it’s important to see the same distortions are practiced here:
When it comes to
the creation of the universe, there are basically only 2 schools of
1.) either something created the universe (creation)
2.) or the universe created itself (evolution)
Again, wrong. There is also the notion that there has always been a cosmos- always. It’s called Steady State, & versions of it have been making a come back in the last few decades since many of the underpinnings of the Big Bang theory have proven tenuous. Also, evolution is not applicable to cosmogony, or origins, only the variation of life. Here’s further nonsense to show how utterly myopic & prejudiced the writer is:
Evolution is Science?
Currently we and our children are being told that .....
No, best theories hold that the universe was a random happening in some grander omniverse.
So how does each of the above mentioned schools of thought hold up under even just basic scientific laws and principals?
2nd Law of Thermodynamics - "All matter left unchecked tends towards disorder"
Actually the law states that ‘The entropy of
a closed system cannot decrease.’ This refers to energy- not matter, 1st
off. Also, evolution occurs (as far as is currently known) on the earth, which
is not a closed system. The writer is therefore doubly wrong. Evolution is
wholly consistent with the 2nd Law! + the writer 1st
denigrates science as a whole, then misinterprets a scientific tenet they like
to denigrate 1 they dislike. The argument fails logically & rhetorically as
well. It never ceases to amaze how those with no knowledge of science futilely
try to use it whenever they myopically think it can bolster their preconceived
notions. The writer similarly embarrasses himself when he tries the old canard
about an eye needing a designer. Nonsense, as eyes have been shown to form
evolutionarily over 40 different & distinct times. The standard reply is what
good is a bad eye? As someone who is nearsighted I can easily reply- alot
better than blindness! They then end with this gem: ‘I will leave it
to the reader to consider the probability that an intelligent Designer and
Builder can intelligently design and build an eye.’ Even if we granted their
absurdity, the devastating retort is simply, ‘Who, then, was the Designer of
But, back to the JC mythos. The writer then tries to disprove the historicity of Hannibal:
To ask whether or not the great Carthaginian general Hannibal every actually existed might seem rather pointless….In fact, although there is plenty of writing about Hannibal, none of it is contemporary and there is no archaeological evidence for him at all (not surprising given the Romans razed the city from whence he came).
While there is not as much historical proof for Hannibal Barca as there is for, say, Alexander the Great, it does exist- mention of him exists in contemporary Roman texts, as well as other conquered peoples- with sources, & the ruins of cities he ‘supposedly’ conquered have been found, in acceptable time frames to ascribe to Hannibal. Books & the Internet abound with them.
Furthermore he is not mentioned in any Carthaginian sources - incredible given he was supposed to be their greatest leader (there are no Carthaginian sources as the Romans burnt their city down)! We find when we actually try to pin him down he tends to recede further into the mists of time. His exploits, such as leading elephants over the Alps, are clearly legendary (the sceptic pretends to be incredulous but seems happy to buy his own amazing theory) and it is not hard to find a motive for the creation of this colourful character by Roman writers (as long we can invent a motive for fabrication we can assume that fabrication exists).
There have been found Carthaginian works of art that represent Hannibal,
& the reality of the elephants/Alps tale is debated, although generally
accepted. The calling in to question of something of questionable historicity is
odd when 1 considers the writer defends something of no historicity. Again,
another example of willful selection of facts to support 1 POV the writer likes
& against that he does not! The parenthetical comment is not relevant since
Hannibal, unlike JC, had no precursor generals whose life tales were for the
taking. Nor was Hannibal a claimed god with worshippers. The attempt to disprove
Hannibal goes on in similarly futile & misinformed ways, but we have seen
that this is the MO of all apologists. It also is informative that the writer
attempts to outline a Hannibal controversy where none exists, while ignoring a
real controversy that exists- whether Hannibal was black or not.
Similarly silly attempts to show that other figures- King Arthur or Buddha- have no basis in reality are inevitably fouled up by the apologists’ basic inability to sort reality from fiction, & then deal with it honestly. But, even were we to grant the apologists their claims of Hannibal, or other misty figures, there are a # of important reasons why those figures are different from JC. The most important is, as I said, none of them claimed to be a god, or a supernatural being, or someone capable of raising the dead & being raised from death. Look at it this way, if I told you that I had a cage in my home that contained a rare tropical songbird & a 6” tall human-looking fairy, which would be the more unbelievable claim? Yeah, it might be unlikely that I, or anyone off the street, would have the songbird, but it would be next to impossible to have the fairy. In this analogy, JC is the fairy & requires far greater proof! Not all levels of proof, therefore, are equivalent if the claims are not!
Another important point to recall is that the burden of proof lies not with the JC skeptics, but with those who claim a) JC existed, & furthermore b) he was the only God! Therefore, a skeptic is under no burden to even provide a disproof of the fairy’s existence since the claim is so patently ridiculous that only by overwhelming proof does the believer shift the burden to the skeptic. Does this mean that a lack of proof for JC’s existence is the same as proving he never existed? No. But again, it’s a safe assumption unless the proof pro-existence is overwhelming enough to switch the burden of proof to the con!
Believers will argue ‘Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.’ But negative evidence is not always the same as absence of evidence. Suppose I claimed I had successfully willed everyone in Newark, New Jersey in 1980, to wear blue clothes for the whole of that year. Would the photos of non-blue apparel, dated in 1980, from Newark, be ‘evidence of absence’, or ‘absence of evidence’ regarding my claim? This would be ‘evidence of absence’. But what if I stipulated that photographs of blue clothes, taken in Newark in 1980, would occasionally show up as different colors when photographed? Would you have to construct a time machine to reliably verify my claim? This may also seem like an ‘absence of evidence’ case at 1st blush, but it’s not. It’s a ‘negative evidence’ or ‘evidence of absence’ case because my claim is so absurd that there’s no reasonable way to prove or disprove it. It is really ‘evidence of absence’. Therefore claims of Jesus’s existence are merely ‘absence of evidence’, because it’s not unreasonable to assume a fellow of that named lived in that area around the early 1st Century; but those for his godhead are ‘evidence of absence’- they are negative evidence- because they are so far-fetched. So, just when is ‘absence of evidence’ also ‘evidence of absence’? Good question! Usually lack of evidence is not enough to prove falsehood. You also need to show at least 1, if not all 3 of the following: 1) all the supporting data for the claim is unlikely, 2) likely evidence for the claim should exist, & 3) a full & fair attempt to seek that likely evidence has been made, but failed to bear fruit. This is why the fairy in the cage, the blue-appareled Newarkers, & JC’s existence & godhead are not remotely likely to be true.
Still, apologists try to skirt such issues with semantics. The Truth Be Known site also has a good bit on the issue of semantic dodging:
Jesus existed is not doubted by scholars," writes Associated Press's
Richard Ostling, an assertion that is entirely incorrect. The existence of Jesus
Christ, the wonderworker and son of God depicted in the New Testament, has been
doubted by the scholarly and sensible since the earliest days of Christianity.
This skepticism has not waned to this day, and many current scholars, including
mythologists, in whose field of study this subject truly falls, are quite
certain that Christ is a mythical character based on the numerous gods and
heroes of the ancient world. The doubt--arrived at through extensive and
exhaustive research--is evident in Ostling's very statement itself: Why, if no
scholar doubts Jesus's existence, need it be reiterated? Guy Gugliotta's remark
in the Washington Post is more honest: "Scholars almost universally believe
Jesus existed..." The "almost" is a key word here, in that,
again, there are a number of scholars who simply do not believe Jesus existed, a
conclusion based on intense study untainted by blind belief. And again, why is
it necessary for Gugliotta to make such a statement, unless there exists such a
CNN's Legon feels compelled to write that "...most scholars agree that Jesus existed," while stating that there is no evidence for such a belief! Hence, these scholars who believe in a "historical Jesus" do so without any reason or evidence whatsoever, except that they have been told he did and have seemingly fearfully followed consensus.
& on it goes! The ‘tricks’ of apologists are so manifest & so flawed, especially upon more than 1 reading, that any person who looks at something objectively is bound to come down against them using old Occam’s Razor. Here’s another JC believer/boob. Let’s take the razor to his arguments, found at http://www.fortclark.org/scripture/Jesus/Did_Jesus_Exist.html
Testament contains twenty-seven separate documents which were written in the
first century a.d. These writings contain the story of the life of Jesus and the
beginnings of the Christian church from about 4 b.c. until the decade of the a.d.
The facts were recorded by eyewitnesses, who gave firsthand testimony to what they had seen and heard. "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life" (I John 1:1, NASB).
Easily rebutted. Merely because someone claims something (without source or verification) to someone (an unknown) years later does not constitute ‘eyewitness’ status. This is by definition ‘hearsay’.
Moreover, the existence of Jesus is recorded by the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, who was born in a.d. 37, "Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.
We’ve seen how easily many true historians rebut these bowdlerized transcripts which were, more to the point, written decades after JC’a supposed life. Valuable as mythology? Yes. As history? Worthless. More of the same pseudo-proofs are foisted up as in prior citations. This is the result:
"Indeed it has been argued—and I think very rightly—that myth theories of the beginnings of Christianity are modern speculative hypotheses motivated by unreasoning prejudice and dislike. ‘It would never enter anyone’s head,’ says Merezhovsky, ‘to ask whether Jesus had lived, unless before asking the question the mind had been darkened by the wish that he had not lived’" (Roderic Dunkerley, Beyond the Gospels, pp. 29, 30).
We get the classic quote from someone foisted up as a potential expert, to bolster all the flawed points from before- not by logic or evidence, but ad hominem! The writer even tries to use Bertrand Russell’s noted agnosticism as a reason to deny JC being a myth! Let’s see, 1 famous philosopher has staked a position you do not like. If we try to show this person in a bad light then all he says falls to the wayside. Well, even were BR shown to be a Satanic pedophile it would have nothing to do with the logic of his statements, nor any of the evidence he used to conclude his opinions!
Let me now
begin summing up just some of the main points which indicate, overwhelmingly,
that the Biblical JC is a total fabrication. Again, can I metaphysically be
certain? No. But the Occam’s Razor approach points to JC’s mythic origins as
the easily most likely scenario. Here’s why:
There is no contemporary historical record of any kind about a Jesus Christ- not a single written word in Roman, Greek or Jewish sources tell of this immensely popular miracle worker. Nor is there a single artifact from the period to support his historicity. Later supposed proofs are from well past the supposed life span of JC & are therefore worthless, as they are hearsay & without source materials as reference. Imagine if Napoleon’s life & feats were never recorded, & then, after WW2 historians suddenly claimed he existed. There would certainly be a credibility gap- no? The Messiah myth was prophesied in Jewish lore for centuries before JC’s time, so there were many claimed Messiahs, as well as many men named Jesus- some who did claim to be miracle workers & messiahs, & were persecuted & crucified by the Romans. The Hebrew penchant for cultural borrowing is also in evidence by the manifest similarities the JC myth with earlier mythic heroes whose undisputedly mythic exploits, lives, & names bear remarkable similarities to those features claimed in a historic JC. Furthermore, the writers of the 4 Gospels- the de facto founders of Christianity- are all of unknown provenance, & there is not an original text to be found, & none that dates within decades of JC’s claimed lifespan. Interestingly, Christian apologists have no qualms about applying these methods of deduction to state that other quasi-historical characters never existed, such as the Buddha. Yet, there is a bit more evidence for the reality of this even older figure. The point is while it’s likely that the Buddha never truly existed, & the Christian apologists see this, the claims for JC’s existence are even more tenuous- in fact, nonexistent- yet the Christian apologists construct elaborate fantasies to trod over that conclusion. Many historians point to the fact that many Christian leaders, throughout the centuries, have outright admitted that JC was not real. The most quoted is this bit from Pope Leo X (1513-1521): ‘What profit has not that fable of Christ brought us!’ The quote appears over & over in many forms, & may be spurious, but the sentiment is not unknown in the various churches that practice Christianity.
But, even if all the above were not true, & someone were relating the Biblical tale of JC to you, there are many points where even the average listener would stop & go-‘Hey, that does not make sense!’ The most obvious is how could someone so reputedly famous go unrecorded in contemporary history. But other less obvious points stick out: crucifixion had been used for centuries before JC’s time, & the corpses were left to rot- to serve as deterrence. The most known example of this was the famed Spartacus-led slave rebellion of a century or so before, where he & 6000+ other slaves were left to rot along the Appian Way. So why would JC- presumably a far greater long term threat- be allowed to die, then quickly taken away for burial? & why was he on trial in the 1st place? In looking up Pontius Pilate & other Roman prefects of the day it is apparent that trials were dispensed with in favor of immediate execution. Why would JC be treated differently? The only reason is that it adds a ‘mythic’ flavor. &, then there are all the elements from other myths- coincidence? Not likely. If I told you that my new religion called BillyBobism was started in memory of my pal BillyBob, the Son of the God Yooway, who died for your sins on a cross in Salem, Massachusetts, would you not reasonably conclude I had borrowed elements of my tale from the more familiar, to you, JC myth? So, it is very reasonable to state the reverse when obvious pre-Christian parts of the JC myth are propounded as true. Yet, the silly apologists simply state what all believers state: ‘Our god is true, all the others are false. That’s just the way it is.’
Let me counter with another quote. This from Robert M. Price’s essay ‘Jesus: Fact or Fiction, A Dialogue With Dr. Robert Price and Rev. John Rankin’: ‘Even if there was a historical Jesus lying back of the gospel Christ, he can never be recovered. If there ever was a historical Jesus, there isn’t one any more. All attempts to recover him turn out to be just modern remythologizings of Jesus. Every “historical Jesus” is a Christ of faith, of somebody's faith. So the “historical Jesus” of modern scholarship is no less a fiction.’
In other words- too much bastardy has taken place to ever be certain- from plagiarisms & frauds, to the Turin Shroud & the fraudulent ossuary of Jesus’s claimed bother. In the end, no amount of proof, evidence of absence, nor reason, will ever dissuade the weak-minded & insecure that their belief system is baseless. This is the fundamental schism between science/logic & religion/faith. I disagree with Bertrand Russell’s belief that religion can sometimes be equated with ethics. Ethics are irreligious & come from human nature itself. Religion arises only when the intellect is overwhelmed & without swift answers. Those who choose the facile succor of ‘the truth’ at all costs should be wary for those times when ‘the truth’ fails, for then an alternate truth might come along. But, those who truly seek out truths (plural!) need not be wary, for the alternates are part of the process.
The Jesus Christ of myth is just that. The evidence is clear. There was (with as close to metaphysical certitude as 1 can reasonably ascertain in this life) no JC, & the cult that sprang up around this myth is based, as are all other religions, upon nothing but the will of a few to control the many. Those who deny this ignore the leathery bits in their maws. Let the rest of us acknowledge their scars!
Finally, a response from a Christian nutcase!
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