The Christ myth theory (also known as Jesus myth theory or Jesus mythicism) is an umbrella term that applies to a range of arguments that in one way or another question the existence of Jesus of Nazareth or the entirety of his life story as described in the Christian gospels. The most extreme versions of the myth theories contend that there was no real historical figure Jesus and that he was invented by early Christians. Other variants hold that there was a person called Jesus, but almost all teachings and miracles attributed to him were either invented or symbolic references, or that the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament is a composite character constructed from multiple people over a period of time. The Christ myth theory is a fringe theory, supported by few tenured or emeritus specialists in biblical criticism or cognate disciplines. It is criticised for its outdated reliance on comparisons between mythologies, and deviates from the mainstream historical view.
== Definition ==
=== Pre-1930 ===
This volume on "The Christ" was written by one who recognizes in the Jesus of Strauss and Renan a transitional step, but not the ultimate step, between orthodox Christianity and radical Freethought. By the Christ is understood the Jesus of the New Testament. The Jesus of the New Testament is the Christ of Christianity. The Jesus of the New Testament is a supernatural being. He is, like the Christ, a myth. He is the Christ myth. [...] It is not against the man Jesus that I write, but against the Christ Jesus of theology [...] Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of humanity, the pathetic story of whose humble life and tragic death has awakened the sympathies of millions, is a possible character and may have existed; but the Jesus of Bethlehem, the Christ of Christianity, is an impossible character and does not exist. [...] While all Freethinkers are agreed that the Christ of the New Testament is a myth they are not, as we have seen, and perhaps never will be, fully agreed as to the nature of this myth. Some believe that he is a historical myth; others that he is a pure myth. Some believe that Jesus, a real person, was the germ of this Christ whom subsequent generations gradually evolved; others contend that the man Jesus, as well as the Christ, is wholly a creation of the human imagination. After carefully weighing the evidence and arguments in support of each hypothesis the writer, while refraining from expressing a dogmatic affirmation regarding either, is compelled to accept the former as the more probable.Remsburg, John E. (1909). The Christ. New York: Truth Seeker Co. ISBN 0879759240. [Per a review of The Christ Myth (1910)] The main result at which the author [Arthur Drews] arrives is that the Jesus of the canonical Gospels is a largely humanised form of a pre-Christian cult-god of that name ...[and it is also] possible that there was a great teacher and healer bearing the same name [Jesus], who was confounded with that supposed deity.T. K. Cheyne of Oxford (1911). "REVIEWS - The Christ Myth". in Williams and Norgate. The Hibbert Journal. 9:3-4. p. 658. "Volume 9, Issues 3-4" [Per a review of The Historicity of Jesus (1912)] “The New Testament data are perfectly clear in their testimony to the reality of Jesus’s earthly career” ...ignores the whole symbolic interpretation set forth in Ecce Deus. If this interpretation be in large measure correct, then the New Testament data would seem to be perfectly clear in their testimony against the historicity in question. Unless the error of that interpretation be shown, this leading argument in Professor [S. J.] Case’s summary falls to the ground.Smith, William Benjamin (1912). "The Historicity of Jesus". in Paul Carus. The Open Court, a Monthly Magazine. 26:10. The Open court publishing co.. pp. 613f. "Case, S. J. (1912). The Historicity of Jesus. University of Chicago Press. p. 269f." My theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth.Frazer, Sir James George (1913) The golden bough: a study in magic and religion: Volume 9 Page 412;
Per Frazer et al., Albert Schweitzer added two new chapters to the 1913 revised edition of his work, Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung, 2. Auflage. "I especially wanted to explain late Jewish eschatology more thoroughly and to discuss the works of John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, James George Frazer, Arthur Drews, and others, who contested the historical existence of Jesus." (Schweitzer (1931), Out of my life and thought: an autobiography, p. 125.)
"While Frazer did not doubt that Jesus had lived, or claim that Christians had invented the Jesus myth, his work became a source book of idea and data for many who did. In fact, Schweitzer included Frazer in a list of scholars who 'contested the historical existence of Jesus." - Bennett, Clinton (2001) In search of Jesus: insider and outsider images pg 205)The views that Dr. Conybeare here investigates are ...those of the extreme left wing who flatly deny the historical existence even of the Jesus of the Gospels. These champions of the Christ-myth theory contend that the Jesus-figure is that of a syncretic god subsequently humanised by the invention of a pseudo-history."REVIEWS AND NOTICES: Christ, The Historical. F. C. CONYBEARE". The Quest. 5.2. John M. Watkins.. 1914. p. 778f. "Volume 5, Part 2 - REVIEWS AND NOTICES - The Historical Christ; or, An investigation of the views of Mr. J. M. Robertson, Dr. A. Drews, and Prof. W. B. Smith" [Per the Writings of Paul-Louis Couchoud] The controversy as to the historical existence of Jesus ..appeared [in France] under a new form, entirely distinct from the theories of Drews, J. M. Robertson, and W. B. Smith. It is of some interest to describe this new aspect of the thesis that the history of Jesus is a myth, and to try to explain the genesis of the contention.Goguel, Maurice (April 1926). "Recent French Discussion of the Historical Existence of Jesus Christ". Harvard Theological Review 19 (02): 115. DOI:10.1017/S001781600000763X.Negative as these [radical minimalist] conclusions appear, they must be strictly distinguished from the theories of the mythologists. According to the critics whom we may term [radical] minimalists, Jesus did live, but his biography is almost totally unknown to us. The mythologists, on the other hand, declare that he never existed, and that his history, or more exactly the legend about him, is due to the working of various tendencies and events, such as the prophetic interpretation of Old Testament texts, visions, ecstasy, or the projection of the conditions under which the first group of Christians lived —into the story of their reputed founder.Goguel, Maurice (April 1926). "Recent French Discussion of the Historical Existence of Jesus Christ". Harvard Theological Review 19 (02): 115–142. DOI:10.1017/S001781600000763X.Among the more eminent scholars and critics who have contended that Jesus was not an actual historical figure we mention Bruno Bauer, Kalthoff, Drews, Ste(u)del, Felde(n), Deÿe, Jensen, Lublinski, Bolland, Van de(n) Berg(h), Virolleaud, Couchoud, Massey, Bossi, Niemojewski, Brandes, Robertson, Mead, Whittaker, Carpenter and W. B. Smith.Barnes, Harry Elmer (1929). "Was Jesus an Historic Figure?". The Twilight of Christianity. New York: Vanguard Press. p. 390f.
[Per scholars and critics who have contended that Jesus was not an actual historical figure] [H. E.] Barnes does not agree with these ultra radical critics but feels with [J. M.] McCabe that a man named Jesus actually lived. He was, however, so foreign to our life and ways of thinking he cannot help us at all.
Erdman Harris (1929). "The Debunkers Turn on Jesus". Association Men. Official magazine of the Y.M.C.A.. 55. Young Men's Christian Association. p. 439f.
=== 1930s ===
The sociological fashion reflected in the rise of Formgeschichte lends colour to Christ-myth theories and indeed to all theories which regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure.Wood, Herbert George (1934). Christianity and the nature of history. Cambridge, England: The University Press. p. 40. Dr. [H. G.] Wood ...selects for special study the Christ-myth theory, of which there are many variants, all of which go back in substance to the writings of the late J. M. Robertson. According to this theory the gospels are symbolic and arose out of a Palestinian mystery cult.Daniell, E. H. (October 1938). "Reviews - Did Christ Really Live? by H. G. Wood". Baptist Quarterly 9 (4). DOI:10.1080/0005576X.1938.11750475.[Noting that some mythicist positions accept the historical existence of a human being who called himself Jesus] ...a religion may be based upon, the teachings of a sage or holy man, without any especial reference to the events of his life [...] in the period to which the origins of Christianity are to be assigned, ...were groups which had relations with the Jewish religion, and some of these last came to identify their Saviour-god with the Jewish Messiah, and created for him a mythical embodiment in a figure bearing the cult-name 'Jesus', derived from a Hebrew word meaning 'salvation'. Or alternatively, they seized upon the report of an obscure Jewish holy-man bearing this name, and arbitrarily attached the 'cult-myth' to him.Dodd, Charles Harold (1938). History and the Gospel. Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 16–17. [Jesus as Presented by Paul] A divine Being, in humility without parallel, assumes the human condition. He is crucified by supernatural agents, the Princes of this Age, who are, in Paul's language, Satan and his acolytes. ...The crucifixion, as presented by Paul, is that of a super natural being executed by beings who are also supernatural.First published: "The Historicity of Jesus" in The Hibbert Journal 37, (1938). p.193-214
Couchoud, Paul Louis (1939). "The Historicity of Jesus". The Creation of Christ: An Outline of the Beginnings of Christianity ; Tr. by C. Bradlaugh Bonner. 2. Watts. p. 438.
=== 1940s ===
Discussion of the problem of the historicity of Jesus falls under two heads—(1) a statement of the reasons for believing that Jesus cannot have been an historical person ; (2) the construction of a theory which will explain the origin of Christianity.Rylands, L. Gordon (1942). "Book Notice: Jesus Not a Myth. By A. D. Howell Smith (Watts) 210 pp.". The Literary Guide and Rationalist Review. 57:8. p. 107. The writing of biographies of Jesus is of doubtful critical value. Legend has coloured the historic data too much, and outside corroborative testimony is too slender...Smith, A. D. Howell (1943). In Search of the Real Bible. Thinker's Library, No. 98. London: Watts. p. 87. [J. M.] Robertson is prepared to concede the possibility of an historical Jesus perhaps more than one having contributed something to the Gospel story. "A teacher or teachers named Jesus, or several differently named teachers called Messiahs " (of whom many are on record) may have uttered some of the sayings in the Gospels.The Jesus of the Talmud, who was stoned and hanged over a century before the traditional date of the crucifixion, may really have existed and have contributed something to the tradition.
An historical Jesus may have "preached a political doctrine subversive of the Roman rule, and . . . thereby met his death " ; and Christian writers concerned to conciliate the Romans may have suppressed the facts.
Or a Galilean faith-healer with a local reputation may have been slain as a human sacrifice at some time of social tumult ; and his story may have got mixed up with the myth.
The myth theory is not concerned to deny such a possibility [that Jesus existed as a human being]. What the myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded
Robertson, Archibald (1946). Jesus: Myth or History?. Thinker's Library, No.110. London: Watts & Co. p. 44. [Per Paul-Louis Couchoud] The salient fact about Jesus ...is that he is a God. Paul, the earliest extant Christian author (eight of whose reputed epistles Couchoud regards as basically genuine, though much edited and interpolated), treats Jesus as God.Robertson, Archibald (1946). Jesus: Myth or History?. Thinker's Library, No.110. London: Watts & Co. p. 58. We know next to nothing about this Jesus. He is not the founder of anything that we can recognize as Christianity. He is a mere postulate of historical criticism—a dead leader of a lost cause, to whom sayings could be credited and round whom a legend could be written.Robertson, Archibald (1946). Jesus: Myth or History?. Thinker's Library, No.110. London: Watts & Co. p. 107. Robertson, Smith, and Dujardin contend that the story of Jesus is the humanization of a pre-Christian God Jesus (Jeshua or Joshua), who had been worshipped in Palestine before the arrival of the Hebrews, and whose cult lingered after the victory of Jahveh in obscure groups, mainly in Galilee [...] Drews believes that the Messiah-figure in Isaiah is the source of the myth, and puts an astral interpretation on many details. Couchoud finds the origin in Paul's alleged vision, and Rylands (The Beginnings of Gnostic Christianity, 1941) looks to pre-Christian Gnostic speculations.McCabe, Joseph (1948). "Jesus". A Rationalist Encyclopædia: A Book of Reference on Religion, Philosophy, Ethics and Science. Watts. Many (including the present writer) are content to infer broadly, from the scanty reliable evidence and the religious developments of the first century, that probably some Jew named Jesus adopted the Persian belief [see Avesta] in the end of the world and, thinking that it was near, left his Essenian monastery [see Essenes] to warn his fellows, and was put to death. They feel that the question of historicity has little importance [...] the very scanty biographical details even as given in the Gospels [see Mark] do not justify the claim of a "unique personality,"...McCabe, Joseph (1948). "Jesus". A Rationalist Encyclopædia: A Book of Reference on Religion, Philosophy, Ethics and Science. Watts.
=== 1950s ===
"His published work on the Synoptic Problem had already contributed towards exploding the theory of the “Christ-myth”—that Jesus as a historical person never existed—by providing the two oldest records of His life to be genuine historical documents."George Seaver, Albert Schweitzer: The Man and His Mind, New York: Harper, 1955, p. 45"Belief in Christ is no more or less rational than belief in John Frum."Worsley, Peter (1957) The Trumpet Shall Sound: A Study of "Cargo" Cults in Melanesia London: Macgibbon & Kee pp. 153–9.
=== 1960s ===
...on the one hand, literal acceptance of everything in the New Testament as the veridical record of what happened, and, on the other, some form of Christ-myth theory which denies that there ever was a Jesus.John Macquarrie, The Scope of Demythologizing: Bultmann and His Critics, London: SCM, 1960, p. 93There have even been learned and intelligent men who have denied that Jesus ever existed: the so-called "Christ-myth" theory.Donald MacKenzie MacKinnon, Objections to Christian Belief, London: Constable, 1963, p. 67For as "extreme" a critic as Rudolf Bultmann, the existence of the historical Jesus is a necessity; and if historical criticism could successfully establish the "Christ-myth" theory, viz., that Jesus never really lived, Bultmann’s enture theological structure would be shaken.George Eldon Ladd, The New Testament and Criticism, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967, p. 15
=== 1970s ===
The Christ-Myth theory (that Jesus never lived) had a certain vogue at the beginning of this century but is not supported by contemporary scholarship.Alan Richardson, The Political Christ, London: SCM, 1973, p. 113The radical solution was to deny the possibility of reliable knowledge of Jesus, and out of this developed the Christ myth theory, according to which Jesus never existed as a historical figure and the Christ of the Gospels was a social creation of a messianic community.William R. Farmer, "A Fresh Approach to Q", in Jacob Neusner, Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults, 4, Leiden: Brill, 1975, p. 43This skeptical way of thinking reached its culmination in the argument that Jesus as a human being never existed at all and is a myth. In ancient times, this extreme view was named the heresy of docetism (seeming) because it maintained that Jesus never came into the world "in the flesh", but only seemed to; (I John 4:2) and it was given some encouragement by Paul's lack of interest in his fleshly existence. Subsequently, from the eighteenth century onwards, there have been attempts to insist that Jesus did not even "seem" to exist, and that all tales of his appearance upon the earth were pure fiction. In particular, his story was compared to the pagan mythologies inventing fictitious dying and rising gods. (paragraph break) Some of the lines of thinking employed to disprove the Christ-myth theory have been somewhat injudicious.Grant, Michael. Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels. Scribner, 1995; first published 1977, p. 199
=== 1980s ===
Not all mythicists agree with each other about what they view as the correct explanation of the origin of Christianity and of the Jesus myth. [...] [Some mythicists] claim that whether a mere man named Jesus ever existed at the time when the Christian era began is an impossible thing to either prove of disprove today.Stein, Gordon (1980). "The Historicity of Jesus". in Stein. An Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism. Prometheus Books. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-87975-136-4. Some skeptics have sought to explain the NT [New Testament] witness to Jesus and the rise of Christianity in terms of the Christ-myth theory. This view states that the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes [...] His death and resurrection suggest to some minds a variant of the myth of the dying-and-rising god, so popular in the world of ancient pagan religion and represented in the cults of Attis, Adonis, Osiris, and Mithras.Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1995 [First published 1982]). "Jesus Christ". in Bromiley et al.. The international standard Bible encyclopedia : fully revised, illustrated, in four volumes. Vol. 2, E-J. 2. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 1034. ISBN 978-0-8028-3782-0. In Germany, England, Holland, America, and France, a group of scholars developed the hypothesis that Christ had never lived at all, the Christ-myth theory.Margaret Hope Bacon, Let This Life Speak: The Legacy of Henry Joel Cadbury, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987, p. 22
=== 1990s ===
If this account of the matter is correct, one can also see why it is that the 'Christ-myth' theory, to the effect that there was no historical Jesus at all, has seemed so plausible to many...Hugo A. Meynell, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Bernard Lonergan (2nd ed.), Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 166[In Did Jesus Exist] I agued that Paul sincerely believed that the evidence (not restricted to the Wisdom Literature) pointed to a historical Jesus who had lived well before his own day; and I leave open the question as to whether such a person had in fact existed and lived the obscure live that Paul supposed of him. (There is no means of deciding this issue.)G A Wells The Jesus Legend Open Court Publishing Company 1996 p. 19[W]e have to explain the origin of Christianity, and in so doing we have to choose between two alternatives. One alternative is to say that it originated in a myth which was later dressed up as history. The other is to say that it originated with one historical individual who was later mythologized into a supernatural being. The theory that Jesus was originally a myth is called the Christ-myth theory, and the theory that he was an historical individual is called the historical Jesus theory.George Walsh, The Role of Religion in History, New Brunswick: Transaction, 1998, p. 58
=== 2000s ===
According to the Christ-Myth theorists, Jesus had first been regarded in the manner of an ancient Olympian god; he had supposedly once visited the earth and died and been raised from the dead, like Hercules and Asclepios [...] It was only subsequently, says the Christ-Myth theory, that the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus was rendered historical, datable, a piece of recent worldly history. Christianity, then, would have begun with a “high" Christology, but with no historical grounding (hence one might call it “docetic”), whereas the “adoptionistic” theory of mainstream scholars holds that Christians first held a “low” Christology, placing Jesus on our level, not God’s, only later yielding to a process of mythification of the historical man Jesus of Nazareth. The choice is between a historical Jesus mythicized and a mythic Jesus historicized.Price, Robert M. (2000). "The Historicized Jesus?". Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus. p. 228. ISBN 978-1-61592-120-1. The Jesus-was-a-myth school... argue[s] that there never was a Jesus of Nazareth, that he never existed.Clinton Bennett, In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images, New York: Continuum, 2001, p. 202Defense of Biblical criticism was not helped by the revival at this time of the 'Christ-Myth' theory, suggesting that Jesus had never existed, a suggestion rebutted in England by the radical but independent F. C. Conybeare.William Horbury, "The New Testament", in Ernest Nicholson, A Century of Theological and Religious Studies in Britain, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 55Price uncritically embraces the dubious methods and results of the Jesus Seminar, adopts much of the (discredited) Christ-Myth theory from the nineteenth century (in which it was argued that Jesus never lived), and so on.Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006) p. 25Zindler depends on secondary works and writes with the aim of proving the Christ-Myth theory, namely, the theory that the Jesus of history never existed.John T. Townsend, "Christianity in Rabbinic Literature", in Isaac Kalimi & Peter J. Haas, Biblical Interpretation in Judaism and Christianity (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2006) p. 150Unlike the cult of Jesus, the origins of which are not reliably attested, we can see the whole course of events laid out before our eyes (and even here, as we shall see, some details are now lost). It is fascinating to guess that the cult of Christianity almost certainly began in very much the same way, and spread initially at the same high speed. [...] John Frum, if he existed at all, did so within living memory. Yet, even for so recent a possibility, it is not certain whether he lived at all.Dawkins, C. Richard (2006). The God Delusion. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 202-206. ISBN 978-0-618-68000-9.Scholars such as Bruno Bauer, Arthur Drews, and G. A. Wells have argued that the Jesus tradition is virtually—perhaps entirely—fictional in nature (i.e., “legendary” as we are using the term)....Some scholars we could include in this category, such as Robert Price, would back off this thesis slightly and argue that we simply lack sufficient information to decide whether a historical Jesus existed. Here, a sort of “Jesus agnosticism” emerges.Paul R Eddy & Gregory A. Boyd, The Jesus Legend: a Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007) p. 24-25As we have noted, some legendary-Jesus theorists argue that, while it is at least possible, if not likely, an actual historical person named Jesus existed, he is so shrouded in legendary material that we can know very little about him. Others (i.e, Christ myth theorists) argue that we have no good reason to believe there ever was an actual historical person behind the legend.Paul R Eddy & Gregory A. Boyd, The Jesus Legend: a Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007) p. 165Though [Charles Guignebert] could not accept either the Christ myth theory, which held that no historical Jesus existed, or the Dutch Radical denial that Paul authored any of the epistles, Guignebert took both quite seriously.Robert M. Price, in Tom Flynn, The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007) p. 372
=== 2010s ===
"[The Christ myth] is the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition." In simpler terms, the historical Jesus did not exist. Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity."Ehrman, Bart (2012) Did Jesus Exist Harper Collins, p. 12)"Despite countless variations (including a still-rampant obsession with indemonstrable astrological theories of Gospel interpretations that you won't find much sympathy for here), the basic thesis of every competent mythologist, then and now, has always been that Jesus was originally a god just like any other god (properly speaking, a demigod in pagan terms; an archangel in Jewish terms; in either sense, a deity), who was later historicized, just as many other gods where..."Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 pg 52Carrier's Minimal Historical Jesus:1) An actual man at some point named Jesus acquired followers in life who continued as an identifiable movement after his death2) This is the same Jesus who was claimed by some of his follower to have been executed by the Jewish or Roman authorities3) This is the same Jesus some of whose follower soon began worshiping as a living god (or demigod)"If any one of these premises is false, it can fairly be said there was no historical Jesus in any pertinent sense, And at least one of them must be false for any Jesus Myth theory to be true."
Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 pg 34"But notice that now we don't even require that is considered essential in many church creeds. For instance, it is not necessary that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Maybe he was, But even if we proved he wasn't that still does not vindicate mysticism. Because the 'real' Jesus may have been executed by Herod Antipas (as the Gospel of Peter in fact claims) or by Roman authorities in an earlier or later decade then Pilate (as some early Christians really did think) Some scholars even argue for an earlier century (and have some real evidence to cite) … My point at present is that even if we proved proved the founder of Christianity was executed by Herod the Great (not even by Romans, much less Pilate, and a whole forty years before the Gospels claim), as long as his name or nickname (whether assigned before or after his death) really was Jesus and his execution is the very thing spoken of as leading him to the status of the divine Christ venerated in the Epistles, I think it would be fair to say the mythicists are then simply wrong. I would say this even if Jesus was never really executed but only believed to have been Because even then it's still the same historical man being spoken of and worshiped."
Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 pg 33Carrier's Minimal Mythical Jesus:"1) At the origin of Christianity, Jesus Christ was thought to be a celestial deity much like any other.2) Like many other celestial deities, this Jesus 'communicated' with his subjects only through dreams, visions and other forms of divine inspiration (such as prophecy, past and present).3) Like some other celestial deities, this Jesus was originally believed to have endured an ordeal of incarnation, death, burial and resurrection in a supernatural realm.4) As for many other celestial deities, an allegorical story of this same Jesus was then composed and told within the sacred community, which placed him on earth, in history, as a divine man, with an earthly family, companions, and enemies, complete with deeds and sayings, and an earthly depiction of his ordeals.5) Subsequent communities of worshipers believed (or at least taught) that this invented sacred story was real (and either not allegorical or only 'additionally' allegorical).That all five propositions are true shall be my minimal Jesus myth theory"Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 pg 53Those who argue against Jesus’ existence make some of these points:-The uncanny parallels between pagan stories in the ancient world and the stories of Jesus.
-No credible sources outside the Bible say Jesus existed.
-The Apostle Paul never referred to a historical Jesus.
[R. M.] Price, author of “Deconstructing Jesus,” says the first-century Western world was full of stories of a martyred hero who is called a son of God. “There are ancient novels from that period where the hero is condemned to the cross and even crucified, but he escapes and survives it,” Price says. “That looks like Jesus.”
“Everything we read about Jesus in the gospels conforms to the mythic hero,” Price says. “There’s nothing left over that indicates that he was a real historical figure.”
Blake, John (February 16, 2017). Decoding Jesus: Separating man from myth. CNN (Turner Broadcasting System). (This article was originally published in 2012 as The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth)
== Quotes of proponents of such theories ==
Genesis is no longer regarded as scientific or historical for the most part. The exodus is mostly a myth. There’s no indisputable trace of David or Solomon from their time, and no trace of Jesus--after centuries of searching in his supposed environment. So, if you look from 1900 to 2014, you’ll see that most biblical scholars don’t believe in the historicity of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Solomon, maybe David. . . You can see what a big difference there is. So, is it Jesus’ turn now? Well, maybe. See, doubt about Jesus is real, doubt about his bodily existence as recorded in the New Testament. More scholars are [now] willing to challenge this historicity openly.
There are three possible positions when it comes to Jesus. You can be a ‘historicist,’ you can be a ‘mythicist,’ or you can be an ‘agnostic’. . . An agnostic says: “Well, the data are insufficient to settle the question one way or the other.” That’s where I am.
Hector Avalos, Ph.D. (June 7, 2014), A Historical or Mythical Jesus? An Agnostic Viewpoint. Lecture given at the University of Arizona,In an article ('The Historiography of the Pentateuch: 25 Years after Historicity' Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 13, 1999, 258-283) I have discussed why I think it is very difficult to establish the historicity of figures in biblical narrative, as the issue rather relates to the quality of texts one is dealing with. I work further on this issue in my Messiah Myth of 2005. Here I argue that the synoptic gospels can hardly be used to establish the historicity of the figure of Jesus; for both the episodes and sayings with which the figure of Jesus is presented are stereotypical and have a history that reaches centuries earlier. I have hardly shown that Jesus did not exist and did not claim to. Rather, I compared our knowledge about Jesus to our knowledge of figures like Homer. As soon as we try to identify such an historical figure, we find ourselves talking about the thematic elements of stories.Thompson, Th. L. 1974. The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives: the Quest for the Historical Abraham, BZAW, Vol. 133, Berlin: de Gruyter.
Thompson, Thomas (1999). "Historiography in the pentateuch: Twenty-five years after historicity". Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 13 (2): 258–283. DOI:10.1080/09018329908585157.Thomas L. Thompson (July 10, 2012). The Bible and Interpretation - Is This Not the Carpenter’s Son?. www.bibleinterp.com. Retrieved on 19 September 2016. Comments #4 - Thomas L. Thompson - 07/10/2012 - 09:11.One of the chief points of interest in this work [Toledot Yeshu] is its chronology, placing Jesus about 100 BCE. This is no mere blunder, though it is not hard to find anachronisms elsewhere in the text. Epiphanius and the Talmud also attest to Jewish and Jewish-Christian belief in Jesus having lived a century or so before we usually imagine, implying that perhaps the Jesus figure was at first an ahistorical myth and various attempts were made to place him in a plausible historical context, just as Herodotus and others tried to figure out when Hercules “must have” lived.
Price, Robert M. (2006). The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-four Formative Texts. Signature Books. p. 240. ISBN 978-1-56085-194-3. [The Mythical Jesus viewpoint is] the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction...
Doherty, Earl (2009). Jesus: Neither God Nor Man - The Case for a Mythical Jesus. Age of Reason Publications. pp. vii–viii. ISBN 978-0-9689259-2-8. From the mid-1990s I became persuaded that many of the gospel traditions are too specific in their references to time, place, and circumstances to have developed in such a short time from no other basis, and are better understood as traceable to the activity of a Galilean preacher of the early first century, the personage represented in Q... This is the position I have argued in my books of 1996, 1999, and 2004, although the titles of the first two of these—The Jesus Legend and The Jesus Myth—may mislead potential readers into supposing that I still denied the historicity of the gospel Jesus. These titles were chosen because I regarded (and still do regard) [the following stories;] the virgin birth, much in the Galilean ministry, the crucifixion around A.D. 30 under Pilate, and the resurrection—as legendary.
Wells, George (1 December 2013). Cutting Jesus Down to Size: What Higher Criticism Has Achieved and Where It Leaves Christianity. Open Court Publishing Company. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-8126-9867-1. I am currently the world’s leading expert on the specific, hyper-narrow question of the arguments for and against the historicity of Jesus. [...] Every historian in this field [of early Christianity] is more knowledgeable than me on something, if not indeed most things, that aren’t directly on the question of historicity. Indeed even most of what I base my own case on, comes from the greater expertise of other published authors, on other hyper-narrow questions that are not directly about that single question [of the arguments for and against the historicity of Jesus]...
Carrier, Richard (14 October 2017). Jonathan Tweet and the Jesus Debate. Richard Carrier Blogs. Retrieved on 18 November 2017.The terms "mythicism" and "mythicist" may be new to many people, even though they have been around for a couple of centuries. "Mythicist" was first coined in German and English to describe people who doubted the historical veracity of the Judeo-Christian Bible. The word is used these days particularly to define scholars, researchers and others who investigate whether or not the New Testament character of Jesus Christ was a real, historical person or a myth along the lines of the gods, godmen and heroes of other cultures, such as Hercules, Mithra or Horus.
D.M. Murdock/Acharya S, in "What is a Mythicist?Mythicism represents the perspective that many gods, goddesses and other heroes and legendary figures said to possess extraordinary and/or supernatural attributes are not "real people" but are in fact mythological characters. Along with this view comes the recognition that many of these figures personify or symbolize natural phenomena, such as the sun, moon, stars, planets, constellations, etc., constituting what is called "astromythology" or "astrotheology." As a major example of the mythicist position, it is determined that various biblical characters such as Adam and Eve, Satan, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon and Jesus Christ, among other entities, in reality represent mythological figures along the same lines as the Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek, Roman and other godmen, who are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures.
D. M. Murdock/Acharya S. in Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection (2009)
=== New Testament ===
Whether the gospels in fact are biographies—narratives about the life of a historical person—is doubtful. Their pedagogical and legendary character reduces their value for historical reconstruction. New Testament scholars commonly hold the opinion that a historical person would be something very different from the Christ (or messiah), with whom, for example, the author of the Gospel of Mark identifies his Jesus (Hebrew: Joshua = savior), opening his book with the statement: “The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s son.”
Thompson, Thomas L. (20 April 2009). "Historicizing the Figure of Jesus, the Messiah". The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David. Basic Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-7867-3911-0. [Per writings earlier than Mark] the object of Christian faith [Jesus] is never spoken of as a human man who had recently lived, taught, performed miracles, suffered and died at the hands of human authorities, or rose from a tomb outside Jerusalem. There is no sign in the epistles of Mary or Joseph, Judas or John the Baptist, no birth story, teaching or appointment of apostles by Jesus, no mention of holy places or sites of Jesus’ career, not even the hill of Calvary or the empty tomb. This silence is so pervasive and so perplexing that attempted explanations for it have proven inadequate.
Doherty, Earl. Jesus Puzzle - Quick Assembly. www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net. Retrieved on 10 February 2018.[The Epistle to the Hebrews chapter 8, verse 4] contains a grammatically ambiguous statement in the Greek: it says either that “If Jesus were on earth [meaning now], he would not be a priest” or “If Jesus had been on earth, he would not have been a priest.” [...] What my analysis does is show that, within the context of the passage and through deductive reasoning, the present sense, allotting the statement to the present time, cannot be supported; in fact, it can be shown that the author can only be applying it to the past.
Doherty, Earl (2 October 2010). Advancing the Cause: Thoughts on the New Atheism and the Myth of Jesus. Atheist Freethinkers. Retrieved on 16 September 2017.[In the Gospels] many elements of the Jesus story [depend] on passages and motifs from the Jewish scriptures. [...] John Shelby Spong (in his Liberating the Gospels) regards the Synoptic Gospels as midrashic fiction in virtually every detail, though he believes it was based on an historical man.
Doherty, Earl (Fall 1997). "The Jesus Puzzle: Pieces in a Puzzle of Christian Origins". Journal of Higher Criticism 4 (2): 68-102.In the case of Jesus Christ, where virtually every detail of the story fits the mythic hero archetype, with nothing left over, no "secular," biographical data, so to speak, it becomes arbitrary to assert that there must have been a historical figure lying back of the myth.
Price, Robert M. (1997). Christ a Fiction. Retrieved on 27 November 2016.Alan Dundes has shown, the gospel life of Jesus corresponds in most particulars with the worldwide paradigm of the Mythic Hero Archetype as delineated by Lord Raglan, Otto Rank, and others.
Price, Robert M. (2000). Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus Books, Publishers. p. 259. ISBN 978-1-61592-120-1. Why are the gospels filled with rewritten stories of Jonah, David, Moses, Elijah, and Elisha rather than reports of the historical Jesus? Quite likely because the earliest Christians, perhaps Jewish, Samaritan, and Galilean sectarians like the Nasoreans or Essenes, did not understand their savior to have been a figure of mundane history at all, any more than the devotees of the cults of Attis, Hercules, Mithras, and Osiris did. Their gods, too, had died and risen in antiquity.
Price, Robert M. (2006). The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-four Formative Texts. Signature Books. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-1-56085-194-3. This astonishingly complete absence of reliable gospel material begins to coincide, along its own authentic trajectory ...with another minimalist approach to the historical Jesus, namely, that here never was one. Most of the Dutch Radical scholars, following Bruno Bauer, argued that all of the gospel tradition was fabricated to historicize an originally bare datum of a savior, perhaps derived from the Mystery Religions or Gnosticism or even further afield. The basic argument offered for this position, it seems to me, is that of analogy, the resemblances between Jesus and Gnostic and Mystery Religion saviors being just too numerous and close to dismiss.
Price, Robert M. (2003). The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition?. Prometheus Books, Publishers. p. 350. ISBN 978-1-61592-028-0. We should never guess from the Epistles that Jesus died in any particular historical or political context, only that the fallen angels (Col 2:15), the archons of this age, did him in, little realizing they were sealing their own doom (1 Cor 2:6-8).
=Price, Robert M. (4 February 2010). "Jesus at the Vanishing Point". in James K. Beilby, Paul Rhodes Eddy. The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-8308-7853-6. =[Per the name Jesus] Philippians 2:9-11, read without theological embarrassment, seems to intend that it was that name [Jesus], exalted above all other names, that the savior received, not the title kyrios.
Price, Robert M. (4 February 2010). "Jesus at the Vanishing Point". in James K. Beilby, Paul Rhodes Eddy. The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-8308-7853-6. All the Epistles seem to know is a Jesus Christ, Son of God, who came into the world to die as a sacrifice for human sin and was raised by God and enthroned in heaven.
Price, Robert M. (4 February 2010). "Jesus at the Vanishing Point". in James K. Beilby, Paul Rhodes Eddy. The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-8308-7853-6. The most striking feature of the early documents is that they do not set Jesus’s life in a specific historical situation. [...] In Paul, for instance, there is no cleansing of the temple (which, according to Mark and Luke, was the event that triggered the resolve of the chief priests and scribes to kill Jesus), no conflict with the authorities, no Gethsemane scene, no thieves crucified with Jesus, no weeping women, no word about the place or time, and no mention of Judas or Pilate. Paul’s colorless references to the crucifixion might be accepted as unproblematic if it were unimportant for him. But he himself declares it to be the very substance of his preaching (1 Cor. 1:23 and 2:2). Yet he lived as a Christian for three years before even briefly visiting Jerusalem (Gal. 1:17f.), and says nothing that would indicate that he took interest in, or even had awareness of, holy places there.
Wells, George Albert (2007). "Jesus, Historicity of". in Tom Flynn, Richard Dawkins. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Prometheus Books, Publishers. p. 447. ISBN 978-1-61592-280-2. Sceptical analyses reveal that Paul says nothing about Jesus that unambiguously situates him on Earth in recent history.
Lataster, Raphael. "Review Essay: Bart Ehrman and the Elusive Historical Jesus". Literature & Aesthetics (26): 191. ISSN 2200-0437.Moses called Oshea [the son of Nun, by the theological title] Joshua [per Numb. xiii. 17, Septuagint xiii. 16, A.V.], which means Jahweh saves. Jahweh [the deity] means when he says of Oshea “My Name is upon him” that one of the names of God is Jahweh saves. ...Joshua in Hebrew, Iesous in Greek, Jesus in Latin, is the personal name of the Son of Man, of the Christ, our Lord. It is the name “which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of those in heaven and of those on earth and of those under the earth” (Phil. ii. 9–10).
Couchoud, Paul Louis (1939). "Elements of Christianity". The Creation of Christ: An Outline of the Beginnings of Christianity ; Tr. by C. Bradlaugh Bonner. 1. Watts. p. 33. [Per the Kyrios Christos Cult] The ancient Mediterranean world was hip-deep in religions centering on the death and resurrection of a savior god. [...] It is very hard not to see extensive and basic similarities between these religions and the Christian religion. But somehow Christian scholars have managed not to see it, and this, one must suspect, for dogmatic reasons. [...] But it seems to me that the definitive proof that the resurrection of the Mystery Religion saviors preceded Christianity is the fact that ancient Christian apologists did not deny it!
Price, Robert M. (2000). "The Christ Cults". Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus. pp. 86, 88, 91. ISBN 978-1-61592-120-1. Since around 1970 an alternative explanation of the New Testament and related texts has been emerging. Researchers are recognizing precise ways in which New Testament texts are explained as depending not on oral tradition but on older literature, especially older scripture. [...] The dependence of the gospels on the Old Testament and on other extant texts is incomparably clearer and more verifiable than its dependence on any oral tradition — as seen, for instance, in the thorough dependence of Jesus’ call to disciples (Lk. 9:57-62) on Elijah’s call (1 Kgs 19). The sources supply not only a framework but a critical mass which pervades the later text.
Brodie, Thomas L. (2012). "epilogue: Bart D. Ehrman's 'Did Jesus Exist?'". Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery. Sheffield Phoenix Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-1-907534-58-4. A new wave of critics suggest that the evangelists’ sources were literary sources. Randel Helms, John Dominic Crossan, Earl Doherty, and others have shown the surprising extent to which gospel narrative is simply rewritten Old Testament material. [Randel Helms, Gospel Fictions (Amherst, N .Y.: Prometheus Books, 1989); John Dominic Crossan, The Cross That Spoke: The Origins of the Passion Narrative (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988); Thomas L. Brodie, “Luke the Literary Interpreter: Luke-Acts as a Systematic Rewriting and Updating of the Elijah-Elisha Narrative in 1 and 2 Kings” (Ph.D. diss., Pontifical University of Thomas Aquinas, 1981); Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ." (Ottawa: Canadian Humanist Publications, 1999).]
Price, Robert M. (2003). "Sources". The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition?. Prometheus Books, Publishers. pp. 31, 41f, n. 14. ISBN 978-1-61592-028-0. For the scriptural roots of all four Gospels and Acts (and in greater detail), see Robert M. Price, “New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash,” in Encyclopedia of Midrash: Biblical Interpretation in Formative Judaism, ed. Jacob Neusner and Alan J. Avery Peck (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 1:534-73. Besides [John Dominic] Crossan, [Randel] Helms, the Millers [Dale and Patricia] and [Thomas L.] Brodie, I owe a great debt to the work of John Bowman, The Gospel of Mark: The New Christian Jewish Passover Haggadah, Studia Post-Biblica 8 (Leiden: Brill, 1965); J. Duncan M. Derrett, The Making of Mark: The Scriptural Bases of the Earliest Gospel, vols. 1 and 2 (Shipston-on-Stour, U.K.: P. Drinkwater, 1985); Frank Kermode, The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative, The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures 1977-1978 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979); Wolfgang Roth, Hebrew Gospel: Cracking the Code of Mark (Oak Park, Ill.: Meyer-Stone Books, 1988); and Rikki E. Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus and Mark, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2, Reihe 88 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997).
Price, Robert M. (4 February 2010). "Jesus at the Vanishing Point". in James K. Beilby, Paul Rhodes Eddy. The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity Press. p. 68, n.39. ISBN 978-0-8308-7853-6. [Per] the gospel of Mark, the oldest surviving gospel? Attaining essentially its final form probably as late as 90 CE but containing core material dating possibly as early as 70 CE, it omits, as we have seen, almost the entire traditional biography of Jesus, beginning the story with John the Baptist giving Jesus a bath, and ending – in the oldest manuscripts – with women running frightened from the empty tomb.
Zindler, Frank. Did Jesus Exist?. American Atheists. Retrieved on 3 December 2017. [First published: Summer 1998 edition of American Atheist magazine]
=== Christology ===
[Mythicists] like Earl Doherty, believe the original Christology envisioned a Jesus who had never even appeared on earth (except in visions to his believers) and whose sacrificial death amid the angels had occurred in one of the lower heavens, where these beings were located in ancient belief.
Price, Robert M. (4 February 2010). "Jesus at the Vanishing Point". in James K. Beilby, Paul Rhodes Eddy. The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity Press. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-8308-7853-6. [The epistles] seem to enshrine a different vein of early Christian faith which lacked an earthly Jesus, a Christianity that understood “Jesus” as an honorific throne-name bestowed on a spiritual savior who had been ambushed and killed by the Archons who rule the universe before he rose triumphant over them.
Price, Robert M. (2011). "Conclusion: Do You “No” Jesus?". The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems. American Atheist Press. p. 425. ISBN 978-1-57884-017-5. [Per] Richard Bauckham: "The earliest Christology was already the highest Christology." [Bauckham, Richard (1998). God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. viii. ] This is very true, and among Jews and with such speed it is hardly credible. Yet rather than appeal to the actual divinity and resurrection of a human Jesus as thereby proven, it is observations like these which should indicate that the christology was high at the beginning of the movement because the Christ of whom it spoke was nothing but a divinity.
Doherty, Earl (2009). Jesus: Neither God Nor Man - The Case for a Mythical Jesus. Ottawa: Age of Reason Publications. p. 716, n. 12. ISBN 978-0-9689259-2-8. "New edition, Revised and Expanded, Originally published under the title: The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? - Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus" [Bart] Ehrman’s solution [of low (adoptionist) Christology] is that different Christianities developed differently and at different times; an opinion he shares with the mythicists.
Lataster, Raphael. "Review Essay: Bart Ehrman and the Elusive Historical Jesus". Literature & Aesthetics (26): 186. ISSN 2200-0437.
=== Wisdom and gnosis ===
Bolland, De Evangelische Jozua; Rylands, The Evolution of Christianity; Rylands, The Beginnings of Gnostic Christianity; Zindler, The Jesus the Jews Never Knew, 340, and others similarly held that Christianity began variously among Hellenized Jewish settlements throughout the Diaspora, with allegorized Jewish elements being made almost unrecognizable by their intermingling with gnostic mythemes.Price, Robert M. (27 December 2010). Secret Scrolls: Revelations from the Lost Gospel Novels. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 103, n. 5. ISBN 978-1-4982-7142-4. [Per Philo] The Logos was God’s mediator [...] Philo sees the Logos as “a continual supplicant to the immortal God on behalf of mortal man” (Divine Matters, 205).Doherty, Earl. Tracing the Christian Lineage in Alexandria. jesuspuzzle.humanists.net. Retrieved on 21 June 2017.The Pauline trajectory was less a matter of paganizing the Judaism of Jesus than it was of seeking to abstract a cosmic half-philosophical salvation myth from its original Jewish elements.Price, Robert M. (2007). Christianity, Diaspora Judaism, and Roman Crisis. www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com. Retrieved on 21 June 2017.[Per the Gnostic Christ Cult] Walter Schmithals [The Office of Apostle in the Early Church. trans. John E. Steely. New York: Abingdon Press. 1969. ] noticed various puzzling inconsistencies in the several New Testament uses of the term “apostle,” as well as certain patterns to those inconsistencies. [...] Schmithals systematically examined all the hitherto suggested possible origins of the Christian idea of the apostles and finally traced it down to Syrian Gnosticism. [...] But whether Paul embraced the Syrian Gnosticism or not, Schmithals’s researches would in any case delineate for us the basis of a pre-Jesus cult of the Christ, one in which the Christ had nothing in particular to do with Jesus the Nazorean. And eventually it could be found alongside some form of Hellenized Jesus movement, I would guess the Jesus martyr cult, in Corinth.
Price, Robert M. (2000). "The Christ Cults". Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus. pp. 79f, 83. ISBN 978-1-61592-120-1. [Per the descending Redeemer of gnostic-style myth] Price sees the Pauline Christ in this same category... Inherent in such a (proto-) gnostic type of outlook is the idea that Christ inhabits the believer, and the apostle who preaches him possesses a highly developed sense of the Christ/Redeemer within himself. Paul, with his "Christ in you" and "all are members of the body of Christ," falls into that line of thinking.Doherty, Earl (2000). Higher Critical Review - Robert M. Price, Deconstructing Jesus. Journal of Higher Criticism. Retrieved on 14 June 2017.In the formative period of the 1st century CE, when no historical Jesus had yet set foot on the scene, a rich panoply of Son/Christ/Savior belief was thriving across the eastern half of the Roman empire, expressions of the new intermediary Son philosophy, conceiving of different routes to salvation through him.Doherty, Earl (2009). Jesus: Neither God Nor Man - The Case for a Mythical Jesus. Ottawa: Age of Reason Publications. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-9689259-2-8. "New edition, Revised and Expanded, Originally published under the title: The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? - Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus" Hellenistic Jews like Philo and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews adopted Logos ideas to create a melding of Hebrew and Greek. But more mainstream Judaism had its own intermediary figure [Personified Wisdom] going back centuries, certainly as old as Plato. [...] In the Wisdom of Solomon, perhaps the most important surviving piece of Hellenistic-Jewish writing, we can see a clear and exotic blending of Wisdom with the Logos.
Doherty, Earl (2009). Jesus: Neither God Nor Man - The Case for a Mythical Jesus. Ottawa: Age of Reason Publications. pp. 92f. ISBN 978-0-9689259-2-8. "New edition, Revised and Expanded, Originally published under the title: The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? - Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus" Philo of Alexandria (c25BCE to c50CE) is the foremost example of the input of Greek ideas into Jewish thought, a phenomenon which produced an important type of philosophy and culture during this period, called "Hellenistic Judaism." [...] Charles H. Talbert ("The Myth of a Descending-Ascending Redeemer in Mediterranean Antiquity," New Testament Studies 22 , p.418-439) regards Philo as a witness to an existing myth in which Wisdom-Logos was treated as a heavenly personal being and a redeemer figure—through bestowing knowledge of God. This myth is reflected in the Alexandrian document, the Wisdom of Solomon...
Doherty, Earl (2009). Jesus: Neither God Nor Man - The Case for a Mythical Jesus. Ottawa: Age of Reason Publications. p. 723, n. 40, 41. ISBN 978-0-9689259-2-8. "New edition, Revised and Expanded, Originally published under the title: The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? - Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus" Christ is a divine presence in [early] Christian communities, bestowing revelation and guidance, a channel to God and to knowledge of spiritual truths. [...] Paul's system and that of early Christianity generally is permeated with the concept of evil spirit forces acting malevolently on the world and dividing earth from heaven. ...[This] illuminates the proto-gnostic atmosphere he [Paul] moved and even shared in...Doherty, Earl (2009). Jesus: Neither God Nor Man - The Case for a Mythical Jesus. Ottawa: Age of Reason Publications. pp. 24, 289. ISBN 978-0-9689259-2-8. "New edition, Revised and Expanded, Originally published under the title: The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? - Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus" [Per] a shift to a concern with the heavenly world and God’s activities within it, a focus which was continued and enlarged on in much of the Jewish intertestamental writings. [...] The Pauline corpus’ obsession with the threat of dark cosmic powers who inhabit the heavens, the period’s fixation on the threat from the demons, has little precedent in the Hebrew bible and marks a new development in Jewish thought, as it did in Hellenistic outlook generally. And inasmuch as Gnosticism is now seen as having had at least a partial origin within radical Jewish circles preceding Christianity, with its center of attention on a heavenly world and the workings of the Godhead, we can see an era-wide development in an interest in the Platonic view of an upper part of the cosmos where divine activities took place. Even Philo, with his focus on the Logos as emanation of God, as well as his “Heavenly Man” concept—another fixation in the period’s picture of divine realities which shows up in Paul’s concept of Christ as “anthrōpos”—demonstrates the saturation of earthly thought with heavenly imaginings.
Doherty, Earl (30 July 2012). Bart Ehrman vs. Earl Doherty. Part 29 of Earl Doherty’s Response to Bart Ehrman’s Case Against Mythicism. Vridar. Retrieved on 7 July 2017.Philo extensively discusses a figure in pre-Christian Jewish angelology, a cosmic archangel who has all the same peculiar properties as the Jesus of the Epistles: the Image of God, God’s agent of creation, the high priest of God’s celestial temple, a pre-existent angel of God, and the firstborn Son of God, the sole being to whom God assigned Lordship over the universe, and whom we should emulate in ourselves. And the fact, also, that Philo identifies this angel with the figure in Zechariah 6 who happens to be named there Jesus the Son of God. Which establishes that Paul’s Jesus was already a figure of pre-Christian Jewish angelology.
Richard Carrier ap. Lataster, Raphael (November 12, 2015). "Afterword by Richard Carrier". Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists. p. 421. ISBN 1514814420. At the origin of Christianity, Jesus Christ was thought to be a celestial deity much like any other. [...] Like many other celestial deities, this Jesus 'communicated' with his subjects only through dreams, visions and other forms of divine inspiration (such as prophecy, past and present).
Carrier, Richard (2014). On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. Sheffield Phoenix Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-909697-35-5. I think it is more likely that Jesus began in the Christian mind as a celestial being (like an archangel), believed or claimed to be revealing divine truths through revelations (and, by bending the ear of prophets in previous eras, through hidden messages planted in scripture).Carrier, Richard (August 2014). Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt: Should We Still Be Looking for a Historical Jesus?. bibleinterp.com. Retrieved on 25 June 2017.[Per the Logos] Philo in fact says this “heavenly man” is the first created being and viceroy of God, the “image” of God, God’s “firstborn son,” high priest of God’s celestial temple, the supreme archangel, whom God tasked with the rest of creation, and who governs the universe on God’s behalf. Philo says this Being is the Logos. [...] Bart Ehrman “also now agrees that Philo attests a Jewish theology in which the Logos is the firstborn Son of God and the eternal Image of God, the same being Jesus was identified with” in Paul (cf. How Jesus Became God, p. 75).Carrier, Richard (13 February 2016). Can Paul's Human Jesus Not Be a Celestial Jesus?. Richard Carrier Blogs. Retrieved on 14 June 2017.I have argued that there is good reason to believe that the Jesus of Paul was constructed largely from musing and reflecting on a supernatural 'Wisdom' figure, amply documented in the earlier Jewish literature, who sought an abode on Earth, but was there rejected, rather than from information concerning a recently deceased historical individual. The influence of the Wisdom literature is undeniable; only assessment of what it amounted to still divides opinion. [...] The Jewish literature describes Wisdom as God's chief agent, a member of his divine council, etc., and this implies supernatural, but not, I agree, divine status.This article was originally published in The New Humanist Vol. 114, No. 3. Sept 1999, pp. 13-18.Wells, George Albert. Earliest Christianity (1999). infidels.org. Retrieved on 23 September 2016.That Jewish Wisdom ideas influenced early Christian writings is undeniable, for Jewish statements made about Wisdom are there made of Jesus. Christ is called “the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24); in him are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Cols. 2:3). Like Wisdom, Christ assisted God in the creation of all things (1 Cor. 8:6)—an idea spelled out in the Christological hymn of Colossians 1:15-20. And like the Jewish Wisdom figure, Jesus sought acceptance on earth but was rejected and returned to heaven. Furthermore, in the Wisdom of Solomon, the righteous man, Wisdom’s ideal representative (no particular person is meant), is persecuted but vindicated post mortem. His enemies have condemned him to “a shameful death” (2:20), but he then confronts them as their judge in heaven, where he is “counted among the sons of God" (5:5).
Wells, George Albert (2007). "Jesus, Historicity of". in Tom Flynn, Richard Dawkins. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Prometheus Books, Publishers. p. 449. ISBN 978-1-61592-280-2. [Paul refers to] divine revelations from a Celestial Jesus (who seems eerily similar to pre-Christian Jewish – and non-existent – figures like the Son of Man and the Logos) [...] Historicists and mythicists both posit a different form of Jesus that preceded the Gospel’s version of Jesus. Unfortunately for the historicist, there is not a single piece of evidence, pre-New Testament, for the mundane Historical Jesus. This is not the case with the Celestial Messiah, who some pre-Christian Jews did honour, as even [Bart] Ehrman now acknowledges.
Lataster, Raphael. "Review Essay: Bart Ehrman and the Elusive Historical Jesus". Literature & Aesthetics (26): 182, 184. ISSN 2200-0437.
=== Sources ===
Except for the references among the writings of Josephus and Tacitus, the extra-biblical sources are very late. All these sources demonstrate some element of fraud or ambiguity, and generally do not tell us any more about Jesus than what is already known from the Gospels. None of the sources stem from Jesus’ own time. None of the sources come from proven eyewitnesses. These issues allow significant justifiable doubt on what Jesus said, what he did, who he really was, and if he even existed at all. There should be no issue, then, in noting that Jesus’ ahistoricity is an epistemic possibility, and therefore expressing some reservations over his historicity is reasonable.
Lataster, Raphael (2015). "Questioning the Plausibility of Jesus Ahistoricity Theories — A Brief Pseudo-Bayesian Metacritique of the Sources". The Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 6:1: 90f.To accept the historicity of Jesus one must have independent historical evidence, but this evidence is not forthcoming.
Martin, Michael (March 1993). "Historicity of Jesus". The Case Against Christianity. Temple University Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-56639-081-1. There are no existing eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus. All we have are later descriptions of Jesus’ life events by non-eyewitnesses, most of whom are obviously biased.
Lataster, Raphael (December 14, 2014). Weighing up the evidence for the 'Historical Jesus'. The Conversation (website). Retrieved on 28 August 2016.There is no independent evidence of Jesus’s existence outside the New Testament. All external evidence for his existence, even if it were fully authentic (though much of it isn’t), cannot be shown to be independent of the Gospels, or Christian informants relying on the Gospels. None of it can be shown to independently corroborate the Gospels as to the historicity of Jesus. Not one single item of evidence. Regardless of why no independent evidence survives (it does not matter the reason), no such evidence survives.
Richard Carrier ap. Lataster, Raphael (November 12, 2015). "Afterword by Richard Carrier". Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists. p. 418. ISBN 1514814420. [A]ccording to Epiphanius, before Christians were called Christianoi, they were called Iessaioi—Jessaeans.
Zindler, Frank R. (2013). "Cognitive Dissonance: The Ehrman Zindler Correspondence". in Frank R. Zindler; Robert M. Price. Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist?. American Atheist Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-57884-019-9. Jesus was probably not originally a Nazarene (Greek nazarênos), but a Nazorian (Greek nazôraios), based on a now-lost scripture (Matthew 2:23). This was actually one of the original names for the Christian movement (Acts 24:5) and remained the name of the original Torah-observant Christian sect (Epihanius, Panarion 9). [Proving History, pp. 142-145]
Carrier, Richard Carrier (9 September 2013). Questioning the Historicity of Jesus. Strange Notions. Retrieved on 28 August 2017.Jesus is nowhere in the Talmud said to have been executed by the Romans; his death is represented as solely the work of the Jews: and nowhere is his alleged Messiahship mentioned, not even as a reason for putting him to death.
Wells, G. A. (1971). The Jesus of the Early Christians: A study in Christian origins. Pemberton. p. 200.
=== Jesus Agnosticism ===
One wonders if all these scholars came to a certain point and stopped, their assumption being. “If Jesus was a historical figure, he must have done and said something!" But their own criteria and critical tools. which we have sought to apply here with ruthless consistency, ought to have left them with complete agnosticism.
Price, Robert M. (2003). The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition?. Prometheus Books, Publishers. p. 351. ISBN 978-1-61592-028-0. Now until some convincing piece of evidence about a Biblical, historical or purely mythical Jesus (or the beliefs of the earliest Christians) is found in future, it seems that the most rational position on Jesus would be a complete rejection of the ‘Christ of Faith’ or ‘Biblical Jesus’, and holding to an agnostic-type position on a more mundane, ‘Historical Jesus’. Maybe there was such a Jesus, maybe there was not. In the absence of convincing evidence, it is possible, but not necessarily probable, and certainly not certain.
Raphael Lataster, in 'There Was No Jesus, There Is No God'Only Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey have thoroughly attempted to prove Jesus’ historical existence in recent times. Their most decisive point? The Gospels can generally be trusted – after we ignore the many, many bits that are untrustworthy – because of the hypothetical (i.e. non-existent) sources behind them. [...] Given the poor state of the existing sources, and the atrocious methods used by mainstream Biblical historians, the matter will likely never be resolved. In sum, there are clearly good reasons to doubt Jesus’ historical existence – if not to think it outright improbable.
Raphael Lataster (December 18, 2014). Did historical Jesus really exist? The evidence just doesn’t add up.. Washington Post.[Per the case for "Historical Jesus" agnosticism] ...the justification of agnosticism is already made obvious by consulting the people arguing for Jesus’ historical certainty. ...Simply peruse the sources for yourself. Do that, and also hear from the historicists how they 'prove' Jesus’ existence. ...If the case for Jesus is unconvincing, then agnosticism is already justified.
Lataster, Raphael (2015-11-12). Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists, (Kindle Locations 676-683). Kindle Edition.For all the evidence anyone has ever adduced from the Epistles (once we exclude those known to be forged): it is ambiguous as to whether an earthly or celestial Jesus is being referred to. The Gospels I found wholly symbolically fictional and not even interested in actual history. And the Jesus in them I found to be so very like other mythical persons of the period. And then I found that no other evidence can be shown to be independent of the Gospels. At the very least, putting all of that together should make agnosticism about the historicity of Jesus a credible conclusion.
Richard Carrier ap. Lataster, Raphael (November 12, 2015). "Forward by Richard Carrier". Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists. pp. xi-xii. ISBN 1514814420. Now, with the help and support of numerous other academics, itself quite noteworthy, I have become more assertive in declaring that Jesus’ non-existence is not merely possible. It is probable.
Raphael Lataster (12 April 2016). Jesus Did Not Exist. Probably.. Church and State.
=== Asserting some possible historical Jesus ===
I desire to point out explicitly that my theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth ...who founded Christianity and was crucified at Jerusalem under the governorship of Pontius Pilate. ...It is only the details of the life and death of Christ that remain, and will probably always remain, shrouded in the mists of uncertainty.
Frazer, Sir James George (1913). The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. 9. Macmillan and Company, limited. p. 412 n. 1. "Image of p. 412 at Google Books" All that can rationally be claimed is that a teacher or teachers named Jesus, or several differently named teachers called Messiahs, may have Messianically uttered some of these teachings at various periods, presumably after the writing of the Pauline epistles.
Robertson, John MacKinnon (1910). Christianity and Mythology. Watts & Co.. p. 125. That a man named Jesus, an obscure religious teacher, the basis of this fabulous Christ, lived in Palestine about nineteen hundred years ago, may be true. But of this man we know nothing. His biography has not been written.
Remsburg, John Eleazer (1909). The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidences of His Existence. Truth seeker Company. p. 24. Paul sincerely believed that the evidence (not restricted to the Wisdom literature) pointed to a historical Jesus who had lived well before his own day; and I leave open the question as to whether such a person had in fact existed and lived the obscure life that Paul supposed of him. (There is no means of deciding this issue.)
Wells, George (2013). The Jesus Legend. Open Court Publishing Company. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-8126-9872-5. The Q material—whether or not it suffices as evidence of Jesus's historicity—refers to a [human] personage who is not to be identified with the [mythical] dying and rising Christ of the early epistles.
Wells, George Albert (2004). Can We Trust the New Testament?: Thoughts on the Reliability of Early Christian Testimony. Open Court Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-8126-9567-0. I am not trying to say that there was a single origin of the Christian savior Jesus Christ, and that origin is pure myth; rather, I am saying that there may indeed have been such a myth, and that if so, it eventually flowed together with other Jesus images, some one of which may actually have been based on a historical Jesus the Nazorean.
Price, Robert M. (2000). Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus Books, Publishers. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-61592-120-1. Is it ...possible that beneath and behind the stained-glass curtain of Christian legend stands the dim figure of a historical founder of Christianity? Yes, it is possible, perhaps just a tad more likely than that there was a historical Moses, about as likely as there having been a historical Apollonius of Tyana. But it becomes almost arbitrary to think so.
Price, Robert M. (December 31, 1999). "Of Myth and Men: A Closer Look at the Originators of the Major Religions - What Did They Really Say and Do?". Free Inquiry magazine 20 (1).[T]he 'real' Jesus may have been executed by Herod Antipas (as the Gospel of Peter in fact claims) or by Roman authorities in an earlier or later decade then Pilate (as some early Christians really did think) Some scholars even argue for an earlier century (and have some real evidence to cite)...
Carrier, Richard (2014). On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. Sheffield Phoenix Press. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-909697-35-5.
=== General ===
In my earlier book, The Jesus of the Early Christians (which I shall call JEC), my purpose was to show the difficulties and problems which arise when the gospels are interpreted as historical records, and how Christianity could have arisen even had there been no historical Jesus. Some theological reviewers (e.g. Professors Grayston and Simon, 183 and 372) admitted that I had stated serious ‘difficulties’ to which a satisfactory solution has not yet been found. (183 Grayston, K. (Prof. of NT, Bristol), review of JEC in Methodist Recorder, 16 December, 1971.)
Wells, George Albert (1975). Did Jesus Exist?. Prometheus Books, Publishers. pp. 2, 224, n. 183. ISBN 978-1-61592-380-9. [Per Wells on his sources] What I actually did was to draw extensively (not 'chiefly') from certain articles in Cheyne and Black's Encyclopaedia Biblica—articles written with commendable candour by theologians who believed that they were serving Christianity by clearing away what the evidence had shown to be indefensible positions. [..] [And referenced by] Professor Kenneth Grayston's good-natured quip in his generous review of JEC in The Methodist Recorder: "The Encyclopaedia Biblica rides again"
Wells, George Albert (1999). The Jesus Myth. Open Court. pp. 293f, n. 8. ISBN 978-0-8126-9392-8. [S]everal reviewers of Wells concede that the questions he has raised are indeed pertinent. For instance, Professor Kenneth Grayston (Methodist Recorder, 16th Nov., 1971) writes: “instructed Christians … /should/ admit the difficulties collected by Professor Wells, and construct a better solution.” Grayston repeats this judgment in reviewing Wells’s second book.
Ellegård, Alvar (2008). "Theologians as historians". Scandia: Tidskrift för historisk forskning (59): 2.[Birger] Olsson devotes ...half his [commentary] space to a quite fair summary of my hypothesis [per Myten om Jesus (1992)]. (Reply by Alvar Ellegård, p. 199)
Ellegård, Alvar (2008). "Comments by Birger Olsson - Theologians as historians". Scandia: Tidskrift för historisk forskning (59): 193-196.
=== Criticism of Historicity proponents ===
We must keep in mind that consensus is no criterion. The truth may not rest in the middle. The truth may not rest with the majority. Every theory and individual argument must be evaluated on its own. If we appeal instead to “received opinion” or “the consensus of scholars,” we are merely abdicating our own responsibility, as well as committing the fallacy of appeal to the majority.
Price, Robert M. (4 February 2010). "Jesus at the Vanishing Point". in James K. Beilby, Paul Rhodes Eddy. The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity Press. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-8308-7853-6. The assumptions that (1) the gospels are about a Jesus of history and (2) expectations that have a role within a story’s plot were also expectations of a historical Jesus and early Judaism ...are not justified.
Thompson, Thomas L. (20 April 2009). "Historicizing the Figure of Jesus, the Messiah". The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David. Basic Books. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7867-3911-0. [Per mainstream Jesus researchers viz. Bart Ehrman, Maurice Casey] the approach taken by the scholars agreeing with the consensus view is uncritically grounded in unjustified presuppositions, and sometimes appears as unprofessional and unscholarly...
Lataster, Raphael (2014). "The Fourth Quest: A Critical Analysis of the Recent Literature on Jesus’ (a)Historicity". Literature & Aesthetics 24 (1): 26f. ISSN 2200-0437.[Per attempts to ascertain the “real” historical Jesus] The growing consensus now is that this entire quest for criteria has failed. The entire field of Jesus studies has thus been left without any valid method.
Carrier, Richard C. (3 April 2012). Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. Prometheus Books. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-61614-560-6. I believe there is ample reason to conclude that the consensus is not reliable in the study of the historical Jesus and therefore cannot be appealed to as evidence for a conclusion. [...] [However] the prima facie evidence for a historical Jesus, which constitutes all the valid evidence the consensus could ever appeal to, still cannot be ignored. But it should be examined anew (a task I'll undertake in the next volume [i.e. On the Historicity of Jesus (2014)]).
Carrier, Richard C. (3 April 2012). Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. Prometheus Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-61614-560-6. It is fair to say that most present-day theologians also accept that large parts of the Gospel stories are, if not fictional, at least not to be taken at face value as historical accounts. On the other hand, no theologian seems to be able to bring himself to admit that the question of the historicity of Jesus must be judged to be an open one. It appears to me that the theologians are not living up to their responsibility as scholars when they refuse to discuss the possibility that even the existence of the Jesus of the Gospels can be legitimately called into question.
Ellegård, Alvar (2008). "Theologians as historians". Scandia: Tidskrift för historisk forskning (59): 170-171.The main reason for holding to the historicity of the figure of Jesus ...resides not primarily in historical evidence but derives instead from a modern theological necessity.
Pfoh, Emanuel (2012). "Jesus and the Mythic Mind: An Epistemological Problem". in Thomas L. Thompson. "Is this Not the Carpenter?": The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus. Thomas S. Verenna. Equinox. p. 80f. ISBN 978-1-84553-986-3. The recent defences of Jesus’ historicity by Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey lack lucid and competent methodologies, rely on highly questionable documents, and further make use of sources that no longer exist, if they ever did.[...] If the consensus view that a historical Jesus certainly existed is based on such tenuous methodology, it would seem reasonable that the consensus view should be reviewed, while not necessarily immediately rejected as false. Let us end this section with a mainstream scholar’s admission that such methods — like the earlier and often mentioned appeal to imaginary sources — are idiosyncratic; that they are unique to historians who specialise in the New Testament texts
Lataster, Raphael (2019). "Inadequate Methods". Questioning the Historicity of Jesus: Why a Philosophical Analysis Elucidates the Historical Discourse. Brill. pp. 129, 149, n. 92. ISBN 978-90-04-40878-4
== Key points of proponents noted in Secondary sources ==
Key points of proponents of such theories that are noted in secondary sources.
=== Origin ===
[The Mythical Jesus viewpoint holds] that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure.Doherty, Earl (2009). Jesus: Neither God Nor Man - The Case for a Mythical Jesus. Age of Reason Publications. pp. vii–viii. ISBN 978-0-9689259-2-8. Earl Doherty ap. Ehrman, Bart D. (20 March 2012). "An Introduction to the Mythical View of Jesus". Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins. pp. 12, 347, n. 1. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6. "In a recent exhaustive elaboration of the position, one of the leading proponents of Jesus mythicism, Earl Doherty, defines the view as follows: ...(Earl Doherty, Jesus: Neither God nor Man: The Case for a mythical Jesus (Ottawa, ON: Age of Reason Publications, 2009), vii-viii.)" [Bruno Bauer] promoted the view that Christianity was syncretistic and mythical at its beginnings.
Voorst, Robert Van (13 April 2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. Christianity and its Christ, [Bruno] Bauer argued, were born in Rome and Alexandria when adherents of Roman Stoicism, Greek Neo-Platonism and Judaism combined to form a new religion that needed a founder.
Voorst, Robert Van (13 April 2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. Some skeptics have sought to explain the NT [New Testament] witness to Jesus and the rise of Christianity in terms of the Christ-myth theory. [...] His death and resurrection suggest to some minds a variant of the myth of the dying-and-rising god, so popular in the world of ancient pagan religion and represented in the cults of Attis, Adonis, Osiris, and Mithras.
Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1995). "Jesus Christ". in Bromiley et al.. The international standard Bible encyclopedia : fully revised, illustrated, in four volumes. Vol. 2, E-J. 2. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 1034. ISBN 978-0-8028-3782-0. Robert Price argues that the ancient Mediterranean world “was hip-deep in religions centering on the death and resurrection of a savior god.” He goes on to catalog a variety of examples to show that the “Christ cult” that arose was just another example of these ancient death-and-resurrection religions.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. Robert Price argues that the ancient Mediterranean world “was hip-deep in religions centering on the death and resurrection of a savior god.” He then catalogs a wide variety of examples to explain the rise of the Christ cult through Paul—including the gods Baal, Tammuz/Dumuzi, Osiris, Attis, Dionysus, Mithras, and even the Corn King. From these he concludes that the Christ cult formed by Paul was “a Mystery cult” pure and simple. (“A Christ religion modeled after a Mystery cult is a Mystery cult, a Christ cult worthy of the name” (Price, Deconstructing Jesus, 93). In context, Price is chiding [B. L.] Mack for using the name “Christ cult” while stopping short of explicitly linking it to the mystery cults, as the old school [Religionsgeschichtliche Schule] had done....)
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 137, n. 15. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. According to [Richard] Carrier, a solution that requires no special pleading. His take on Christianity’s origins begins in the religiously roiling Israel of the 30s, when the restive population was starting to rebel against the Temple elite. [...] Through visions, apocalyptic math and study of the Scriptures, one group ...came up with a celestial being made human flesh, killed by the forces of evil in a sacrifice that combined and eclipsed both Yom Kippur and Passover, who rose from the dead and will very soon come again to save the faithful.
Brian Bethune (23 March 2016). Did Jesus really exist? - Macleans.ca. Macleans.ca. Retrieved on 19 November 2016.
=== Gospels ===
[The Mythical Jesus viewpoint holds] that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction.Doherty, Earl (2009). Jesus: Neither God Nor Man - The Case for a Mythical Jesus. Age of Reason Publications. pp. vii–viii. ISBN 978-0-9689259-2-8. Earl Doherty ap. Ehrman, Bart D. (20 March 2012). "An Introduction to the Mythical View of Jesus". Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins. pp. 12, 347, n. 1. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6. "In a recent exhaustive elaboration of the position, one of the leading proponents of Jesus mythicism, Earl Doherty, defines the view as follows: ...(Earl Doherty, Jesus: Neither God nor Man: The Case for a mythical Jesus (Ottawa, ON: Age of Reason Publications, 2009), vii-viii.)" Scholars who classify the Gospels as “fiction” generally hold that the Gospel authors were intentionally writing fiction and assumed their work would be read as such. There is no consensus among scholars within this camp as to what exact kind of fiction the Gospels are intended to be. Candidates include ...“legend,” (R. M. Price, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition? (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2003), 21.)
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. pp. 314-315, n. 23. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. Many scholars find strong parallels between Raglan’s “hero myth” analysis and the Jesus story of the New Testament. [...] Price goes even further when he argues that “every detail of the [Christ] story fits the mythic hero archetype, with nothing left over.” From this Price surmises that it is “arbitrary to assert that there must have been a historical figure lying in back of the myth.”
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. Robert Price goes so far as to argue that every aspect of the Jesus story found in the Gospels fits the “mythic hero archetype, with nothing left over.” With such a strong correspondence between Jesus and universally acknowledged mythic figures, the suggestion that the Jesus story is rooted in history while the other hero stories are not seems highly implausible to some.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. pp. 137-138. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. If Jesus performed the feats attributed to him in the Gospels, should we not expect that he would have caught the attention of at least a few pagan writers? Instead, some scholars argue, we find little or no mention of Jesus outside the New Testament. For some—especially the most radical fringe of legendary-Jesus theorists (viz. group 1 [inclusive of Christ myth theorists])—this suggests the miracle-working figure of the Gospels is purely a legend, essentially no different from the mythological savior figures of other ancient mystery religions.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. [G. A.] Wells argues that the Gospels contain much that is demonstrably legendary, and they are directed by theological (not historical) purposes.
Voorst, Robert Van (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. [G. A.] Wells explains Jesus as a mythical figure arising from Paul's mysticism, for whom other late first-century Christians had to fabricate a life story [when the Gospels were written].
Voorst, Robert Van (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. [Per G. A. Wells and Earl Doherty] the Gospels later created a historical narrative around Paul’s mythological savior figure and thereby transformed him into a historical person. (G. A. Wells, The Jesus myth (Chicago:Open Court, 1999), esp. 95-111; E. Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? (Ottawa: Canadian Humanist Pub., 1999).)
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. Christ myth theorists argue that Paul views Jesus as a cosmic savior figure, along the lines of a mystery-religion deity, not a historical person in the recent past. They argue that it was only later, when the Gospels were written, that a fictitious historical narrative was imposed on this mythical cosmic savior figure.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4.
=== Paul‘s writings ===
[Bruno Bauer] denied the value of the New Testament, especially the Gospels and Paul’s letters, in establishing the existence of Jesus.
Voorst, Robert Van (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. [Per G. A. Wells] His main books stressed pre-Christian origins less than [J. M.] Robertson, and talked more of Paul’s complete ignorance of, and lack of interest in, the details of Jesus’ life.
Cooke, Bill (2006). "JESUS CHRIST, MYTH THEORY OF.". Dictionary of Atheism, Skepticism, and Humanism. Prometheus Books. p. 294. ISBN 978-1-61592-365-6. [Some Christ myth theorists] make much of the claim that there is little or no credible information about the historical Jesus to be found in first—and second—century non-Christian sources or in Paul, the earliest Christian source. Surely if a miracle-working prophet like the Jesus of the Gospels actually existed, it is argued, Paul and pagan contemporaries would have mentioned his feats and his teachings. Instead, they argue, we find a virtual silence.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 165. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. [Paul’s] letters have no allusion to the parents of Jesus, let alone to the virgin birth. They never refer to a place of birth. . . . They give no indication of the time or place of his earthly existence. They do not refer to his trial before a Roman official, nor to Jerusalem as the place of execution. They mention neither John the Baptist, nor Judas, nor Peter’s denial of his master. . . . These letters also fail to mention any miracles Jesus is supposed to have worked, a particularly striking omission, since, according to the gospels he worked so many.Wells, George Albert (1982). The Historical Evidence for Jesus. Prometheus Books, Publishers. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-61592-411-0. G. A. Wells ap. Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). "Paul’s Lack of Historical Information". The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. "(G. A. Wells, The Historical Evidence for Jesus (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1982), 22.)" As Morton Smith remarks, [G. A.] Wells’s argument is mainly based on the argument from silence ...arguing for “unknown proto-Christians who build up an unattested myth . . . about an unspecified supernatural entity that at an indefinite time was sent by God into the world as a man to save mankind and was crucified”.Smith, Morton (1986). "The historical Jesus". in R. Joseph Hoffmann, Gerald A. Larue. Jesus in History and Myth. Prometheus Books. pp. 47–48. ISBN 978-0-87975-332-0. Morton Smith ap. Voorst, Robert Van (13 April 2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 14f, n. 34. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. "(Morton Smith, “The Historical Jesus,” in Jesus in Myth and History. ed. R. Joseph Hoffmann and Gerald A. Larue [Buffalo: Prometheus, 1986] 47-48)" [G. A.] Wells believes that the comparative lack of historical details about Jesus in Paul‘s writings meant that he knew virtually nothing about Jesus’ life, including neither the time of his birth, death, nor when the reported resurrection appearances occurred. Paul is said to have conceived of Jesus as “a supernatural being who spent a brief and obscure period on earth in human form and was crucified,” perhaps even centuries before Paul’s own time.
Habermas, Gary R. (1996). The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ. College Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-89900-732-8. [G. A. Wells] argues that the earliest Christian writers do not support the thesis that Jesus lived early in the first century.
Martin, Michael (March 1993). The Case Against Christianity. Temple University Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-56639-081-1.
==== Celestial Jesus ====
Adherents of the Christ myth theory argue that the only Jesus Paul knew of was “a divine presence in Christian communities, bestowing revelation and guidance, a channel to God and to knowledge of spiritual truths.” [Doherty (1999), 30.] In other words, these considerations suggest that the Jesus of Paul and the earliest Christians was little different from the various deities worshipped and experienced within other ancient pagan mystery religions. [E. Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? (Ottawa: Canadian Humanist Publications, 1999), 30.]
Boyd, Gregory A.; Eddy, Paul R. (1 October 2010). Lord or Legend?: Wrestling with the Jesus Dilemma. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-60899-954-5. [Richard Carrier's hypothesis of ‘minimal mythicism’], highly influenced by the work of Earl Doherty, states that Jesus was initially believed to be a celestial figure, who came to be historicised over time.
Lataster, Raphael (December 2014). "Richard Carrier: On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014; pp. xiv + 696.". Journal of Religious History 38 (4): 614–616. DOI:10.1111/1467-9809.12219.[Richard Carrier notes that per early Christianity] the new faith’s most prominent Apostle [Paul] seems only to know a cosmic Christ, about whom he has learned by vision [of a risen Jesus] and close reading of the prophets [in Scriptures].
Brian Bethune (23 March 2016). Did Jesus really exist? - Macleans.ca. Macleans.ca. Retrieved on 19 November 2016.For a good, direct, and recent statement of the mythicist view, see George A. Wells, “Independent Confirmation." As will be clear, in one important respect Wells differs from most other mythicists: rather than tracing the invention of the historical Jesus back to the myths about the pagan gods, Wells thinks that it derived from Jewish wisdom traditions, in which God’s wisdom was thought to have been a personalized being who was with him at the creation and then came to visit humans (see, for example, Proverbs 8). [Wells, George A. “Is There Independent Confirmation of What the Gospels Say of Jesus?" Free Inquiry 31 (2011): 19-25.]
Ehrman, Bart D. (20 March 2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins. p. 349, n. 20. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6. An argument that is especially prevalent among the most radical fringe of legendary-Jesus theorists—namely, defenders of the mythic-Jesus thesis—centers on the claim that Paul makes little or no reference to the historical Jesus. [...] Scholars such as [G. A.] Wells, [Earl] Doherty, and [R. M.] Price argue that Paul’s view of Jesus was not anything like the recent, contemporary Galilean figure we find in the Gospels. His view of Jesus—which is the earliest view we have—was rather that of a vague cosmic savior figure who existed in the unknown, distant past and/or the mythic spiritual realm. Indeed, the Pauline Christ was actually quite close to the sorts of divinities we find in ancient mystery religions. According to these scholars, this makes it difficult to avoid the conclusion that the earliest Christians viewed Jesus as a sort of vague deity who became historicized as a rather recent figure only after Paul—as oral traditions were passed on and especially when the Gospels were written. [...] Paul rarely if ever quotes Jesus. Indeed, they argue that Paul seems completely unaware of the later Christian notion that Jesus was an ethical teacher.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. While New Testament scholars agree that Paul has relatively little to say about the life and ministry of Jesus, most grant that Paul viewed Jesus as a recent contemporary. The most extreme legendary-Jesus theorists, however—particularly the Christ myth theorists—deny this. They argue that nothing in Paul’s letters indicates that he believed Jesus was a contemporary of his. Rather, they contend, the Jesus of Paul’s theology is a savior figure patterned after similar figures within ancient mystery religions. According to the theory, Paul believed that Christ entered the world at some point in the distant past—or that he existed only in a transcendent mythical realm—and died to defeat evil powers and redeem humanity. Only later was Jesus remythologized [i.e. historicized] as a Jewish contemporary. ...historical aspects of the Jesus story were invented and placed in the Gospels after Paul wrote his letters.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. pp. 202-203. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. [Per L. G. Rylands, The Beginnings of Gnostic Christianity, Watts and Co. London, 1940.] Rylands’ view in short is that the Hellenic invasions brought foment in the religious world. Much syncretism and fusion took place especially due to Greek philosophy and Oriental theosophy impinging upon Judaism. Of the many Jewish sects that arose, Christianity was one. p. 22. Gnostic ideas arose in this foment, mostly from the philosophy and myths of the orient, which in turn gave rise to Christian ethics. Basically, the Christianity that first arose was deeply spiritual, i.e., Paul and John did not know of a human materialistic Christ. Catholic theologizing introduced the material aspect. The Gnostics really represented [the true] Pauline and Johannine thought. By 70 A.D. [proto-orthodox] people were worshiping a sacrificed Jesus; these people were a sect, not a church initially. But they gained [the] upperhand. The Gnostics declined [refused] to abandon the primitive [high] Pauline and Johannine Christology. p. 272 “The Gnostic Christology was original, it adored a heavenly Christ, it had no knowledge of a human Jesus.” p. 279.Rylands, Louis Gordon (1940). The Beginnings of Gnostic Christianity. Watts. Groningen, Gerard van (1967). "Christianity". First Century Gnosticism: Its Origin and Motifs. Brill Archive. pp. 79–80, n. 3.
=== Historical Jesus ===
[The Mythical Jesus viewpoint holds that a historical Jesus—if he did exist—] had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity.
Ehrman, Bart D. (20 March 2012). "An Introduction to the Mythical View of Jesus". Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6. Other writers who are often placed in the mythicist camp present a slightly different view, namely, that there was indeed a historical Jesus but that he was not the founder of Christianity, a religion rooted in the mythical Christ-figure invented by its original adherents. This view was represented in midcentury by Archibald Robinson, who thought that even though there was a Jesus, “we know next to nothing about this Jesus.” (A. Robertson, Jesus: Myth or History?, 107.) [Robertson, Archibald. Jesus: Myth or History? London: Watts & Co., 1946.]
Ehrman, Bart D. (20 March 2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins. pp. 19, 348, n. 10. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6. [Per] The Jesus Myth (1999), [G. A.] Wells ...now accepts that there is some historical basis for the existence of Jesus, derived from the lost early “gospel” “Q” (the hypothetical source used by Matthew and Luke). Wells believes that it is early and reliable enough to show that Jesus probably did exist, although this Jesus was not the Christ that the later canonical Gospels portray.
Voorst, Robert Van (2003). James Leslie Houlden. ed. Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 660. ISBN 978-1-57607-856-3. [J. M.] Robertson is prepared to concede the possibility of an historical Jesus perhaps more than one having contributed something to the Gospel story. "A teacher or teachers named Jesus, or several differently named teachers called Messiahs" (of whom many are on record) may have uttered some of the sayings in the Gospels. (J. M. Robertson, Christianity and Mythology, revised edition, p. 125) [...] What the myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded.
Robertson, Archibald (1946). Jesus: Myth or History?. Thinker's Library, No.110. London: Watts & Co. p. 44. The myth theory as stated by J. M. Robertson does not exclude the possibility of an historical Jesus. “A teacher or teachers named Jesus” may have uttered some of the Gospel sayings “at various periods.” The Jesus ben-Pandera of the Talmud may have led a movement round which the survivals of an ancient solar or other cult gradually clustered. It is even “not very unlikely that there were several Jesuses who claimed to be Messiahs.” The founder of the movement may have met his death by preaching a subversive political doctrine, and the facts may have been suppressed by later writers. A Galilean faith-healer named Jesus may have been offered as a human sacrifice by fanatical peasants at some time of social tumult.
Robertson, Archibald (1946). Jesus: Myth or History?. Thinker's Library, No.110. London: Watts & Co. pp. 99-100.
=== Sources ===
Those who, over the last two hundred years, have doubted the existence of Jesus have argued that the lack of contemporary corroboration of Jesus by classical authors is a main indication that he did not exist. (See, e.g., The Existence of Christ Disproved (London: Heatherington, 1841) 214. More recently, see Michael Martin, The Evidence against Christianity (Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 1991).)
Voorst, Robert Van (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 69, n. 120. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. Pagan witnesses indicate that there is no reliable evidence that supports the historicity of Jesus. [...] Their absence, combined with the absence of Jewish records, suggests that [the negative evidence principle] applies and that we are justified in disbelieving that Jesus existed. (M. Martin, The Case Against Christianity (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991), 52.)Martin, Michael (1993). The Case Against Christianity. Temple University Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-56639-081-1. Michael Martin ap. Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. [Richard Carrier notes that per corroborating the New Testament account of Jesus] for a century there are no other Christian witnesses; perhaps more inexplicably, no pagan witnesses (whose references to Jesus would have been mentioned by later Christians, either to celebrate or [to] refute).
Brian Bethune (23 March 2016). Did Jesus really exist? - Macleans.ca. Macleans.ca. Retrieved on 19 November 2016.[Bruno Bauer] argued that the lack of mention of Jesus in non-Christian writings of the first century shows that Jesus did not exist. Neither do the few mentions of Jesus by Roman writers in the early second century establish his existence.
Voorst, Robert Van (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. La critique radicale des témoignages traditionnels, touchant l'existence de Jésus, s'appuie sur deux arguments principaux, renouvelés de Bruno Bauer : 1° la littérature contemporaine de Jésus, en dehors des écrits chrétiens, ne nous dit absolumnent rien de lui. 2° La littérature néotestamentaire, avec ses discordances et ses contradictions, ses interpolations évidentes, ses invraisemblances énormes, ne peut être considérée comme une source historique digne de confiance.
Guignebert, Charles (1913). "Le Problème de L'Existence de Jésus". La Grande revue. 79. p. 173. Christ myth theorists [claim] that Eusebius could be responsible for the Testimonium [Flavianum forgery].
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 197 n. 103). ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4.
==== Independent corroboration ====
A penultimate conclusion relates to those who still argue that Jesus never existed. Since the classical writers contain no certainly independent witnesses to Jesus, by the strictest standards of historical evidence we cannot use them to demonstrate the existence of Jesus.
Voorst, Robert Van (13 April 2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. Scholars who fall within the legendary-Jesus spectrum—especially the Christ myth theorists—typically argue that there is little-to-no independent information regarding a historical Jesus to be found in early non-Christian sources.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. [Per Jesus, G. A.] Wells argues, we need independent corroboration from other, “objective” sources to affirm his existence. He [Wells] minutely examines these proposed other sources, from Tacitus to Talmud, and finds that they contain no independent traditions about Jesus. Therefore, they are not admissible [evidence].
Voorst, Robert Van (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5. Richard Carrier also raises the possibility (and perhaps the need to be cautious) that all sources dated after the Gospel of Mark could have been tainted by it, and that this simply cannot be ruled out.
Lataster, Raphael (2015). "Questioning the Plausibility of Jesus Ahistoricity Theories — A Brief Pseudo-Bayesian Metacritique of the Sources". The Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 6:1: 75.Christian scholars have long noted that a number of ancient non-Christian literary sources make mention of Jesus... Against this, various legendary-Jesus theorists [inclusive of Christ myth theorists] argue that each of these sources is historically suspect. The passages that seem to speak of Jesus are either passing on hearsay of what Christians claimed to be true, or they can be shown to be later interpolations introduced into the text by Christians.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. Christian scholars have long noted that while references to Jesus in non-Christian sources may be meager ...all contain some references to Jesus and/or the early Christian movement. [...] Against this, however, the more radical legendary-Jesus theorists [inclusive of Christ myth theorists] argue that each of these references is historically suspect. Some of the passages can be shown to be Christian interpolations, and those that are not interpolations are merely passing on hearsay—what Christians at the time were claiming about Jesus.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4.
=== Other ===
[Per] the legendary-Jesus thesis we are engaging in this book. ...it will prove helpful to break down the wide variety of views regarding the Jesus of history found in New Testament scholarship today into four broad (and admittedly overly simplistic) categories. [...] A fourth and final group of scholars argue that [the scholarly] positions [of categories] 1-3 are overly skeptical toward the Gospel material. ...these [category 4] scholars maintain that historical research can indeed disclose a good deal of reliable information about the historical Jesus.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. pp. 24f. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. According to legendary-Jesus theorists, these early oral Jesus traditions were only loosely (or, in the case of Christ myth advocates, not at all) rooted in actual remembrances of Jesus and were very susceptible to legendary accretion.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. [Per mythicism] Our only sources come decades later by biased individuals who believed in Jesus, and that they’re not trustworthy sources. [...] Their positive argument is: they claim that there were other divine beings from the time of Jesus who were thought to have existed—gods who were thought to have died and risen again.
Candace Chellew-Hodge (25 April 2012). Inventing Jesus: An Interview with Bart Ehrman. Religion Dispatches. Retrieved on 17 November 2017.[Per Philo’s interpretation of the name Joshua as “salvation of the Lord”] since Joshua [Hoshea] is such an excellent person, it would be more fitting for him to receive this “most excellent of names” (ὄνομα τῆς άρίστης). [On the Change of Names - De Mutatione Nominum - Mut.]
Farber, Zev (11 July 2016). Images of Joshua in the Bible and Their Reception. De Gruyter. p. 159. ISBN 978-3-11-034336-6. Although you lied you were not able to conceal plausibly your fictitious tale.
Celsus, as quoted by Origen in Contra Celsum, Book II, Ch. 26 (tr. Henry Chadwick). Quoted by R. Joseph Hoffmann as: "It is clear to me that the writings of the christians are a lie, and that your fables are not well-enough constructed to conceal this monstrous fiction." in Celsus: On The True Doctrine (Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 37.I knew from LDS [Latter Day Saints] statistics that the early growth of Christianity was in no way astonishing. All that was required for Christians to number 6 million within the time that history allows was a growth rate of 40 percent per decade, which is significantly lower than the recent LDS rate (Stark 1996a:7, 14).
Stark, Rodney; Neilson, Reid L. (14 August 2012). The Rise of Mormonism. Columbia University Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-231-50991-6.
=== Agnosticism ===
Scholars such as Bruno Bauer, Arthur Drews, and G. A. Wells have argued that the Jesus tradition is virtually—perhaps entirely—fictional in nature ...this view holds that we have no good grounds for thinking any aspect of the Jesus narrative is rooted in history, including the very existence of an actual historical person named Jesus. Some scholars we could include in this category, such as Robert Price, would back off this thesis slightly and argue that we simply lack sufficient information to decide whether a historical Jesus existed. Here, a sort of “Jesus agnosticism” emerges.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. pp. 24-25. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. [R. M.] Price thinks the evidence is so weak for the historical Jesus that we cannot know anything certain or meaningful about him. He is even willing to entertain the possibility that there never was a historical Jesus.
Evans, Craig A. (26 September 2008). Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels. InterVarsity Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-8308-3355-9. As Robert Price puts it, “A heavy burden of proof rests on anyone who would vindicate the [canonical Gospels’] material as genuine.” (...this sort of radical methodological skepticism has led Price to a “Jesus agnosticism”—he is uncertain whether there ever was a historical Jesus.)
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 365 n. 3). ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. [R. M.] Price speculates that the sources should point historical Jesus scholars in the direction of “complete agnosticism”.
Lataster, Raphael (2015). "Questioning the Plausibility of Jesus Ahistoricity Theories — A Brief Pseudo-Bayesian Metacritique of the Sources". The Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 6:1: 91.
=== Credibility ===
We are not here referring to the position that Jesus had no historical existence, which is in itself a perfectly legitimate theory entitled to serious discussion. The paradoxes we have in mind are the extravagant or arbitrary interpretations [that some adherents of the mythological view assert.]
Guignebert, Charles (1956). Jesus. University Books. p. 64. [Though Charles Guignebert] could not accept either the Christ myth theory, which held that no historical Jesus existed, or the Dutch Radical denial that Paul authored any of the epistles, Guignebert took both quite seriously.
Price, Robert M. (2007). "Guignebert, Charles". in Tom Flynn, Richard Dawkins. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Prometheus Books, Publishers. p. 372. ISBN 978-1-61592-280-2. The rather fragile historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth should be tested to see what weight it can bear [...] I don’t think, however, that in another 20 years there will be a consensus that Jesus did not exist [the "Jesus atheism" viewpoint], or even possibly didn’t exist [the "Jesus agnosticism" viewpoint], but a recognition that his existence is not entirely certain would nudge Jesus scholarship towards academic respectability.
Davies, Philip (August 2012). Did Jesus Exist?. The Bible and Interpretation. Retrieved on 29 January 2017.Mythicists have discovered problems in the supposed common-sense of historical Jesus theories that deserve to be taken seriously.
Davies, Stevan L. (1 November 2014). Spirit Possession and the Origins of Christianity. BARDIC Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-906834-19-7. Like Stevan L. Davies, I believe that “the Mythicists have discovered problems in the supposed common-sense of historical Jesus theories that deserve to be taken seriously.” (Stevan Davies, Spirit Possession and the Origins of Christianity (Dublin: Bardic Press, 2014), 4.)
Gullotta, Daniel N. (2 February 2015). Why You Should Read Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus. Archived from the original on 14 February 2015.[G. A.] Wells’s argument against the historicity of Jesus is sound, and recent criticisms against his argument can be met.
Martin, Michael (1993). The Case Against Christianity. Temple University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-56639-081-1. Bart Ehrman thinks there was a historical (though not a divine) Jesus, and I’ve read his “evidence,” but haven’t found it very convincing.
Coyne, Jerry (29 August 2016). Not much evidence for a historical Jesus. Why Evolution Is True. Retrieved on 5 November 2017.[Richard Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus] poses a challenge that academic proponents of the historical Jesus seem unlikely to overcome.
Barber, Nigel (5 May 2016). Jesus Never Existed, After All. Huffington Post. Retrieved on 7 November 2017.As for the question of whether Jesus existed, the best answer is that any attempt to find a historical Jesus is a waste of time. It can’t be done, it explains nothing, and it proves nothing.
Dykstra, Tom (2015). "Ehrman and Brodie on Whether Jesus Existed: A Cautionary Tale about the State of Biblical Scholarship". The Journal of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (JOCABS) 8:1: 29.
==== Marginalization ====
[Thomas L.] Brodie’s book doesn’t have to convince everyone. What it does accomplish is help establish that a serious scholar can indeed take a mythicist position. It helps show that mythicism is an intellectually viable position even if not universally convincing.
Tom Dykstra (20 July 2014). Jerome Murphy-O’Connor versus Thomas Brodie. Retrieved on 18 November 2016. The mythicist...does not get fair play from professional theologians. They either meet him with a conspiracy of silence or, if that is impossible, treat him as an amateur whose lack of academic status...robs his opinion of any value. Such treatment naturally makes the mythicist bellicose. (A. Robertson, Jesus: Myth or History?, x [xii].)Robertson, Archibald (1946). Jesus: Myth or History?. Thinker's Library, No.110. London: Watts & Co. p. xii. Archibald Robertson ap. Ehrman, Bart D. (20 March 2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins. pp. 20, 348, n. 12. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6. [G. A.] Wells, author of several Jesus-was-a-myth books, writes how ‘others took the view that only trained theologians and not an outsider such as’ himself could ‘contribute to the discussion’ (1975, p. 2). [Wells, G. A. (1975) Did Jesus Exist? London, Elek Books.]
Bennett, Clinton (2001). In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images. Continuum. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-8264-4915-3. It is even possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported, historical case that Jesus never lived at all, as has been done by, among others, Professor G. A. Wells of the University of London.
Dawkins, Richard (16 January 2008). The God Delusion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 122. ISBN 0-547-34866-5.
==== Skepticism ====
Historically, it is quite doubtful whether [Jesus] Christ ever existed at all, and if He [Jesus] did [exist] we do not know anything about Him.
Russell, Bertrand (1957). Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. Simon and Schuster. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-671-20323-8. [Per] what we can know about Jesus himself. For example, as a historian I do not know for certain that Jesus really existed, that he is anything more than the figment of some overactive imaginations. [...] In my view, there is nothing about Jesus of Nazareth that we can know beyond any possible doubt.
Funk, Robert W. (January-February 1995). "The Resurrection of Jesus". The Fourth R 8 (1): 9.My present opinion is that, in the case of Jesus, we simply do not know for certain anything about his biography, not even that he existed.
George Walsh (31 December 2011). The Role of Religion in History. Transaction Publishers. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-4128-3878-8.
==== Evidence ====
Confessons donc que tous les prétendus témoignages païens et juifs ne nous apportent aucun renseignement utile sur la vie de Jésus, qu’ils ne nous donnent même pas la certitude qu’il ait vécu [Let’s admit that all the so-called pagan and Jewish testimonies [to Jesus] do not bring us any useful information on the life of Jesus, that they do not even give us the certainty that he has lived].
Charles Guignebert (1933). Jésus. L’Évolution de l’humanité. synthèse collective 29. Paris: La Renaissance du Livre. p. 23. Jesus supposedly lived sometime between 4 B.C.E. and 30 C.E., but there is not a single contemporary historical mention of Jesus [...] The lack of contemporary corroboration does not disprove his existence, of course, but it certainly casts great doubt on the historicity of [Jesus].
Barker, Dan; Dawkins, Richard (2008). Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists. Ulysses Press. p. 253. ISBN 978-1-56975-677-5. The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views ...given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of independent evidence for an historical Jesus, remain sceptical about his existence.
Law, Stephen (2012). Stephen Law: Evidence, Miracles and the Existence of Jesus. Retrieved on 18 November 2016. "Published in Faith and Philosophy 2011. Volume 28, Issue 2, April 2011. Pages 129-151" Whether Jesus himself existed as a historical figure or not, the gospels that tell of him are unquestionably mythic texts. ...Investigations into the historical Jesus require, by contrast, that the gospels be used as historical sources, and in fact the main difference between “conservative” and “liberal” scholarship revolves around how much legendary accretion is stripped away in order to arrive at the “historical core,” not whether there is any historical core to be found at all. In seeking to find the real, historical person behind these narratives, we are using these texts as sources for a figure that they themselves show no interest in at all. Just as the myths and legends about Herakles are simply not about a historical person, so also the gospels are not about the historical Jesus.
Arnal, William E. (12 August 2015). The Symbolic Jesus: Historical Scholarship, Judaism and the Construction of Contemporary Identity. Routledge. pp. 75–76. ISBN 978-1-317-32440-9. We can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, are moreover fragmentary and often legendary; and other sources about Jesus do not exist.
Bultmann, Rudolf Karl (1965). "Jesus and the Eschatologlcal Kingdom". Rudolf Bultmann: Interpreting Faith for the Modern Era. Fortress Press. pp. 94f. ISBN 978-1-4514-1756-2. What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing. As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries. There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references—nothing. [Jesus (1999) 56.]Ehrman, Bart D. (23 September 1999). Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Oxford University Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-19-802888-8. Bart Ehrman ap. Perry, Philip (December 20, 2016). A Growing Number of Scholars Are Questioning the Historical Existence of Jesus. Big Think (website). Retrieved on 26 February 2017.No Greek or Roman author from the first-century mentions Jesus. [...] we do not have a single reference to Jesus by anyone—pagan, Jew, or Christian—who was a contemporary eyewitness [...] the Gospels of the New Testament are not eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus. [...] The Gospel writers (anonymous Greek-speaking Christians living thirty-five to sixty-five years after the traditional date of Jesus’s death) were simply writing down episodes that they had heard from the life of Jesus.
Ehrman, Bart D. (20 March 2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins. pp. 43, 46, 49, 72. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6. [Per non-Christian pagan references to Jesus in writings that were produced within about a hundred years of when Jesus is traditionally thought to have died] writings after that time almost certainly cannot be considered independent and reliable witnesses to his life but were undoubtedly based simply on what the authors had heard about Jesus, probably from his followers. [...] [Per pagan writings] three references [to Jesus] are the only ones that survive from pagan sources within a hundred years of the traditional date of Jesus’s death (around the year 30 CE).
Ehrman, Bart D. (20 March 2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins. pp. 50, 56. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6. Historians have measures in terms of a burden of proof. If an author for instance is writing about a subject more than 100 years after it occurred, it isn’t considered valid. Another important metric is the validity of authorship. If the author cannot be clearly established, it makes the record far less reliable. What we do have are lots of sources completed several decades after the fact, by authors of the gospels who wanted to promote the faith.
Perry, Philip (December 20, 2016). A Growing Number of Scholars Are Questioning the Historical Existence of Jesus. Big Think (website). Retrieved on 26 February 2017.As [Bart] Ehrman himself noted, Josephus got his information about Jesus not from eye witnesses or their direct associates (he was living long after they had died) but most likely by stories circulated orally. [...] Josephus was too far removed from the time-line of the life of Jesus to authenticate these stories directly. [...] Ehrman himself tells us “There is nothing to suggest that Josephus…did any kind of preliminary research into the life of Jesus by examining Roman records (there weren’t any).” (65) [Ehrman, 2012.]Ehrman, Bart D. (20 March 2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6. Kennedy, Bill. The Myth of Jesus Examined. Academia.edu. Retrieved on 24 November 2017.In summary, it is clear that there are many contradictions between one gospel and another, many dubious statements of history, many suspicious resemblances to the legends told of pagan gods, many incidents apparently designed to prove the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, many passages possibly aiming to establish a historical basis for some later doctrine or ritual of the Church. The evangelists shared with Cicero, Sallust, and Tacitus the conception of history as a vehicle for moral ideas. And presumably the conversations and speeches reported in the Gospels were subject to the frailties of illiterate memories, and the errors or emendations of copyists.
Durant, Will; Durant, Ariel (1944). "XXVI -- Jesus -- 4 B.C.-A.D. 30". Caesar and Christ, a history of Roman civilization and of Christianity from their beginnings to A.D. 325. The Story of Civilization III. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 558. ISBN 978-1-4516-4760-0.
==== Paul ====
Paul shows us with what complete indifference the earthly life of Jesus was regarded by primitive Christianity.
Schweitzer, Albert (1910). The Quest of the Historical Jesus. p. 342. In short, Paul cannot be considered a reliable witness to either the teachings, the life, or the historical existence of Jesus.
Lüdemann, Gerd (2010). "Paul as a Witness to the Historical Jesus". in R. Joseph Hoffmann. Sources of the Jesus Tradition: Separating History from Myth. Prometheus Books. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-61614-189-9. The basis for the suggestion that James is the brother of Jesus depends on early references in Paul, especially Galatians 1.19. [...] In the light of Paul’s complete disregard for the “historical” Jesus . . . it is unimaginable that he would assert a biological relationship between James and “the Lord.”
Hoffmann, R. Joseph (15 May 2009). The Jesus Tomb Debacle: RIP. The New Oxonian. Retrieved on 14 April 2017.The essentials of the message Paul preaches are not coming from those who were with Jesus, whom Paul sarcastically calls the “so-called pillars of the church,” adding “what they are means nothing to me” (Galatians 2:6), but from voices, visions, and revelations that Paul is “hearing” and “seeing.” For some that is a strong foundation. For many, including most historians, such “traditions” cannot be taken as reliable historical testimony. (James Tabor, “Paul as Clairvoyant,” accessed 21/09/2012, http://jamestabor.com/2012/05/23/paul-as-clairvoyant-2).
James Tabor ap. Lataster, Raphael (2015). "Questioning the Plausibility of Jesus Ahistoricity Theories — A Brief Pseudo-Bayesian Metacritique of the Sources". The Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 6:1: 68.Paul was converted to a Hellenized form of some Jesus movement that had already developed into a Christ cult. [...] Thus his letters serve as documentation for the Christ cult as well.
Mack, Burton L. (1988). "The Congregations of the Christ". A Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins. Fortress Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-8006-2549-8. The evidence from Paul’s letters is that the congregations of the Christ were attractive associations and that their emerging mythology was found to be exciting. A spirited cult formed on the model of the mystery religions...
Mack, Burton L. (1993). "Mythmaking and the Christ". The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins. HarperSanFrancisco. pp. 219f. ISBN 978-0-06-065374-3. Traditional Christianity, and any attempt to trace traditional Christianity to a unique personal founder, alike break down on the evidence. [...] [In] the Aegean cities where the Pauline Epistles took shape, the myth of the incarnate God, and not the career of a historic Jesus, was the basis of the cult from the first [i.e. from the beginning]. Paul knows no more of the Nazoraean Jesus than the Synoptics know of the pre-existent Christ.
Robertson, Archibald (1962). "Conclusion". The Origins of Christianity (2 ed.). International Publishers. p. 96. The Fourth Gospel does not pretend to be a biography of Jesus; it is a presentation of Christ from the theological point of View, as the divine Logos or Word, creator of the world and redeemer of mankind. It contradicts the synoptic gospels in a hundred details and in its general picture of Christ.
Durant, Will; Durant, Ariel (1944). "XXVI -- Jesus -- 4 B.C.-A.D. 30". Caesar and Christ, a history of Roman civilization and of Christianity from their beginnings to A.D. 325. The Story of Civilization III. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 558. ISBN 978-1-4516-4760-0. Early Christians seemed well aware of the treachery of memory. St. Paul offered assurances to his readers in the Epistle to the Galatians that the teachings he offered had not come to him by an untrustworthy path: “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”
Brian Bethune (23 March 2016). Did Jesus really exist? - Macleans.ca. Macleans.ca. Retrieved on 19 November 2016.I did indeed find [C. A.] Gieschen’s argument that Paul understood Jesus as an angel prior to becoming human extremely provocative and convincing. His arguments are supported and advanced in a very interesting discussion of Susan R. Garrett in her book. No Ordinary Angel.
Ehrman, Bart D. (June 7, 2014). Christ as an Angel in Paul. The Bart Ehrman Blog. Retrieved on 9 May 2017.Perhaps most interesting (and perhaps shocking) of all is Ehrman’s claim: “Jesus, for Paul, was the Angel of the Lord. And so he too was God’s wisdom [personified], before coming into this world.”
Daniel N. Gullotta (12 March 2015). "Review: How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee". danielngullotta.com. (archive date 15 March 2015)[Philippians 2] vv. 6-7 refer to Jesus as being in some way “divine” in status or mode, and then becoming a human being. We know that this sort of view of Jesus appeared early […] Indeed, in these verses the use of compact phrasing without explanation (e.g., “in the form of God”) suggests that readers were expected to recognize what was being referred to, which would mean that well before this epistle the idea of Jesus’ “pre-existence” had become a part of Christian belief.
Hurtado, Larry W. (2 November 2005). How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God?: Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-8028-2861-3.
==== Pre Christianity ====
[Burton] Mack argues that a Greek "myth of martyrdom" and the "noble death" tradition are ultimately responsible for influencing the hellenized Jews of the Christ cults to develop a divinized Jesus.
Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (1 August 2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-8010-3114-4. In the eyes of many inhabitants of the Greco-Roman world, the greatest promise of salvation was offered by the mystery religions. These cults expressed fertility motifs and the vegetation cycles of life, death, and rebirth.
Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1995). "Salvation". in Bromiley et al.. The international standard Bible encyclopedia : fully revised, illustrated, in four volumes. Vol. 4, Q-Z. 4. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 290. ISBN 978-0-8028-3784-4. The dying gods are gods that rise or return to new life [...] [there are] gods who both die and return long before the Christian era.
Mettinger, Tryggve N. D. (2001). The Riddle of Resurrection: “Dying and Rising Gods” in the Ancient Near East. Eisenbrauns. pp. 217—218. ISBN 978-1-57506-822-0. I think, that worship in the incarnate Logos is a novum, a “mutation,” ...introduced by Jesus people, but the belief in an intermediary, a deuteros theos, and even perhaps binitarian worship was common to them [Jesus people] and other Jews.
Boyarin, Daniel (24 November 2010). Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 119. ISBN 0-8122-0384-4. [When] my friend and former colleague, Thomas L. Thompson, in The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David from 2005 seeks to dissolve the Jesus figure of the Gospels as a historical figure, making him, so to speak, the epitome of biblical and other—far older—Near Eastern concepts of a royal Messiah, the question of historicity invites us to look in other directions for an answer, rather than to try to identify ipsissima verba Iesu or situations which could have been historical recollections. This is not to deny that the Jesus story in the Gospels is saturated with reminiscences of Old Testament figures and events, the Old Testament being the medium of the Near Eastern Messiah myth. Moreover, in this respect, Thomas L. Thompson's book is an abundant and impressive arsenal of evidence.
Mǖller, Morgens. "Paul: The Oldest Witness to the Historical Jesus" in T.L. Thompson and T.S. Verenna, eds., Is This Not the Carpenter (Equinox, 2012), 117-118.
==== Early Christianity ====
Arguably the most significant breakthrough in the modern understanding of early Christianity is the realization that, contrary to what had earlier been thought, this religion was exceptionally diverse.
Ehrman, Bart D. (1999). "The Diversity of Early Christianity: Writings Later Deemed Heretical". After the New Testament: a reader in early Christianity. Oxford University Press. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-19-511445-4. Early Christianity appears now to be widely diverse, not basically monolithic, as Eusebius would have had us believe. This can be seen in our very earliest sources.
Ehrman, Bart D. (2002). "Lecture 19: The Rise of Early Christian Orthodoxy". The Great Courses: Lost Christianities Guidebook. The Teaching Company. p. 83. "[Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication]" [Walter Bauer claimed] that Christianity was a diverse phenomenon from the beginning, that ‘varieties of Christianity’ arose around the Mediterranean, and that in some places what would later be called ‘heretical’ was initially normative. [...] Although some of Bauer’s reconstructions are inaccurate and have been dropped, the idea that Christianity was originally a diverse phenomenon has now been generally accepted.
Behr, John (2013). Irenaeus of Lyons: Identifying Christianity. OUP Oxford. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-0-19-166781-7. My thesis is that any quest for a historical Jesus is irrelevant to an understanding of the earliest social movements that evolved into the religion now called Christianity. This is the case even if a historical Jesus existed and made an effort to found a movement of some kind. [...] Jesus was functionally irrelevant to the earliest stages of what contemporary researchers call the Jesus movement, or the Christ cult, or the Jesus-confessing communities (and that I will call early Christianity).
Noll, Kurt. Investigating Earliest Christianity without Jesus (Chapter 13) - Is This Not the Carpenter? (in en). Cambridge Core. Retrieved on 12 June 2017.
== Quotes by others on these theories ==
=== Pre-1950 ===
An examination of the claims for and against the historicity of Jesus thus reveals that the difficulties faced by those undertaking to prove that he is not historical, in the fields both of the history of religion and the history of doctrine, and not least in the interpretation of the earliest tradition are far more numerous and profound than those which face their opponents. Seen in their totality, they must be considered as having no possible solution. Added to this, all hypotheses which have so far been put forward to the effect that Jesus never lived are in the strangest opposition to each other, both in their method of working and their interpretation of the Gospel reports, and thus merely cancel each other out. Hence we must conclude that the supposition that Jesus did exist is exceedingly likely, whereas its converse is exceedingly unlikely. This does not mean that the latter will not be proposed again from time to time, just as the romantic view of the life of Jesus is also destined for immortality. It is even able to dress itself up with certain scholarly technique, and with a little skillful manipulation can have much influence on the mass of people. But as soon as it does more than engage in noisy polemics with 'theology' and hazards an attempt to produce real evidence, it immediately reveals itself to be an implausible hypothesis.Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, 2001, pp. 435–436 [English translation of the 1913 revised edition of his work, Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung, 2. Auflage.]
=== 1950s ===
His published work on the Synoptic Problem had already contributed towards exploding the theory of the “Christ-myth”—that Jesus as a historical person never existed—by providing the two oldest records of His life to be genuine historical documents."George Seaver, Albert Schweitzer: The Man and His Mind, New York: Harper, 1955, p. 45
=== 1960s ===
...on the one hand, literal acceptance of everything in the New Testament as the veridical record of what happened, and, on the other, some form of Christ-myth theory which denies that there ever was a Jesus.John Macquarrie, The Scope of Demythologizing: Bultmann and His Critics, London: SCM, 1960, p. 93There have even been learned and intelligent men who have denied that Jesus ever existed: the so-called "Christ-myth" theory.Donald MacKenzie MacKinnon, Objections to Christian Belief, London: Constable, 1963, p. 67For as "extreme" a critic as Rudolf Bultmann, the existence of the historical Jesus is a necessity; and if historical criticism could successfully establish the "Christ-myth" theory, viz., that Jesus never really lived, Bultmann’s enture theological structure would be shaken.George Eldon Ladd, The New Testament and Criticism, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967, p. 15
=== 1970s ===
The Christ-Myth theory (that Jesus never lived) had a certain vogue at the beginning of this century but is not supported by contemporary scholarship.Alan Richardson, The Political Christ, London: SCM, 1973, p. 113The radical solution was to deny the possibility of reliable knowledge of Jesus, and out of this developed the Christ myth theory, according to which Jesus never existed as a historical figure and the Christ of the Gospels was a social creation of a messianic community.William R. Farmer, "A Fresh Approach to Q", in Jacob Neusner, Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults, 4, Leiden: Brill, 1975, p. 43
=== 1980s ===
In Germany, England, Holland, America, and France, a group of scholars developed the hypothesis that Christ had never lived at all, the Christ-myth theory.Margaret Hope Bacon, Let This Life Speak: The Legacy of Henry Joel Cadbury, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987, p. 22
=== 1990s ===
If this account of the matter is correct, one can also see why it is that the 'Christ-myth' theory, to the effect that there was no historical Jesus at all, has seemed so plausible to many...Hugo A. Meynell, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Bernard Lonergan (2nd ed.), Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 166[W]e have to explain the origin of Christianity, and in so doing we have to choose between two alternatives. One alternative is to say that it originated in a myth which was later dressed up as history. The other is to say that it originated with one historical individual who was later mythologized into a supernatural being. The theory that Jesus was originally a myth is called the Christ-myth theory, and the theory that he was an historical individual is called the historical Jesus theory.George Walsh, The Role of Religion in History, New Brunswick: Transaction, 1998, p. 58
=== 2000s ===
The Jesus-was-a-myth school... argue[s] that there never was a Jesus of Nazareth, that he never existed.Clinton Bennett, In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images, New York: Continuum, 2001, p. 202Defense of Biblical criticism was not helped by the revival at this time of the 'Christ-Myth' theory, suggesting that Jesus had never existed, a suggestion rebutted in England by the radical but independent F. C. Conybeare.William Horbury, "The New Testament", in Ernest Nicholson, A Century of Theological and Religious Studies in Britain, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 55Price uncritically embraces the dubious methods and results of the Jesus Seminar, adopts much of the (discredited) Christ-Myth theory from the nineteenth century (in which it was argued that Jesus never lived), and so on.Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006) p. 25Zindler depends on secondary works and writes with the aim of proving the Christ-Myth theory, namely, the theory that the Jesus of history never existed.John T. Townsend, "Christianity in Rabbinic Literature", in Isaac Kalimi & Peter J. Haas, Biblical Interpretation in Judaism and Christianity (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2006) p. 150As we have noted, some legendary-Jesus theorists argue that, while it is at least possible, if not likely, an actual historical person named Jesus existed, he is so shrouded in legendary material that we can know very little about him. Others (i.e, Christ myth theorists) argue that we have no good reason to believe there ever was an actual historical person behind the legend.Paul R Eddy & Gregory A. Boyd, The Jesus Legend: a Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007) p. 165Though [Charles Guignebert] could not accept either the Christ myth theory, which held that no historical Jesus existed, or the Dutch Radical denial that Paul authored any of the epistles, Guignebert took both quite seriously.Robert M. Price, in Tom Flynn, The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007) p. 372
== Statements against the theories ==
=== Pre-1970s ===
There is, lastly, a group of writers who endeavor to prove that Jesus never lived--that the story of his life is made up by mingling myths of heathen gods, Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, Greek, etc. No real scholar regards the work of these men seriously. They lack the most elementary knowledge of historical research. Some of them are eminent scholars in other subjects, such as Assyriology and mathematics, but their writings about the life of Jesus have no more claim to be regarded as historical than Alice in Wonderland or the Adventures of Baron Munchausen.George Aaron Barton, Jesus of Nazareth: A Biography, New York: Macmillan, 1922, p. xAn extreme view along these lines is one which denies even the historical existence of Jesus Christ—a view which, one must admit, has not managed to establish itself among the educated, outside a little circle of amateurs and cranks, or to rise above the dignity of the Baconian theory of Shakespeare.Edwyn Robert Bevan, Hellenism And Christianity (2nd ed.), London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1930, p. 256
=== 1970s ===
I am of the opinion (and it is an opinion shared by every serious historian) that the [Christ myth] theory is historically untenable.Willi Marxsen, The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970, p. 119But in contrast to the Christ-myth theories which proliferated at an earlier time, it would seem that today almost all reputable scholars do accept that Jesus existed and that the basic facts about him are well established.John Macquarrie, "The Humanity of Christ", in Theology, Vol. 74 (London: SPCK, 1971) p. 247In the 1910's a few scholars did argue that Jesus never existed and was simply the figment of speculative imagination. This denial of the historicity of Jesus does not commend itself to scholars, moderates or extremists, any more. … The "Christ-myth" theories are not accepted or even discussed by scholars today.Samuel Sandmel, A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament, New York: Ktav, 1974, p. 196
=== 1980s ===
[T]he view that there was no historical Jesus, that his earthly existence is a fiction of earliest Christianity—a fiction only later made concrete by setting his life in the first century—is today almost totally rejected.G. A. Wells, The Historical Evidence for Jesus, Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1988, p. 218
=== 1990s ===
Virtually all biblical scholars acknowledge that there is enough information from ancient non-Christian sources to give the lie to the myth (still, however, widely believed in popular circles and by some scholars in other fields--see esp. G. A. Wells) which claims that Jesus never existed.Craig L. Blomberg, "Gospels (Historical Reliability)", in Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight & I. Howard Marshall, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992, p. 292The scholarly mainstream, in contrast to Bauer and company, never doubted the existence of Jesus or his relevance for the founding of the Church.Craig A. Evans, "Life-of-Jesus Research and the Eclipse of Mythology", Theological Studies 54, 1993, p. 8To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars'. In recent years 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus'—or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels, New York: Scribner, 1995, p. 200In the late nineteenth century some very skeptical historians proposed that Jesus of Nazareth never existed. He was a myth, based on the Egyptian sun god and other pagan myths. No one takes these arguments seriously anymore. There is virtually universal agreement that there was such a person as Jesus.Stephen M. Wylen, The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction, Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1995, p. 114The data we have are certainly adequate to confute the view that Jesus never lived, a view that no one holds in any caseCharles E. Carlston, in Bruce Chilton & Craig A. Evans (eds.) Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research, Leiden: Brill, 1998, p. 3Although it is held by Marxist propaganda writers that Jesus never lived and that the Gospels are pure creations of the imagination, this is not the view of even the most radical Gospel critics.Bernard L. Ramm, An Evangelical Christology: Ecumenic and Historic, Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1999, p. 159
=== 2000s ===
Today only an eccentric would claim that Jesus never existed.Leander Keck, Who Is Jesus?: History in Perfect Tense, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2000, p. 13Of course, only a lunatic fringe has ever thought that Jesus did not exist at all.Bernard McGinn, Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil, New York: Columbia University Press, 2000, p. 34Although Wells has been probably the most able advocate of the nonhistoricity theory, he has not been persuasive and is now almost a lone voice for it. The theory of Jesus' nonexistence is now effectively dead as a scholarly question." and "The nonhistoricity thesis has always been controversial, and it has consistently failed to convince scholars of many disciplines and religious creeds... Biblical scholars and classical historians now regard it as effectively refuted.Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000, pp. 14 & 16Today, nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically. There is general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first or second century Jewish or pagan religious teacher.Graham Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus (2nd ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. xxiiiIf one were able to survey the members of the major learned societies dealing with antiquity, it would be difficult to find more than a handful who believe that Jesus of Nazareth did not walk the dusty roads of Palestine in the first three decades of the Common Era. Evidence for Jesus as a historical personage is incontrovertible.W. Ward Gasque, "The Leading Religion Writer in Canada... Does He Know What He's Talking About?", History News Network, 2004There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more.Richard A. Burridge, Jesus Now and Then, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004, p. 34No reputable scholar today questions that a Jew named Jesus son of Joseph lived; most readily admit that we now know a considerable amount about his actions and his basic teachings.James H. Charlesworth, "Preface", in James H. Charlesworth, Jesus and Archaeology, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006, pp. xxi–xxvWhat about those writers like Acharya S (The Christ Conspiracy) and Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries), who say that Jesus never existed, and that Christianity was an invented religion, the Jewish equivalent of the Greek mystery religions? This is an old argument, even though it shows up every 10 years or so. This current craze that Christianity was a mystery religion like these other mystery religions-the people who are saying this are almost always people who know nothing about the mystery religions; they've read a few popular books, but they're not scholars of mystery religions. The reality is, we know very little about mystery religions-the whole point of mystery religions is that they're secret! So I think it's crazy to build on ignorance in order to make a claim like this. I think the evidence is just so overwhelming that Jesus existed, that it's silly to talk about him not existing. I don't know anyone who is a responsible historian, who is actually trained in the historical method, or anybody who is a biblical scholar who does this for a living, who gives any credence at all to any of this.Bart Ehrman, interview with David V. Barrett, "The Gospel According to Bart", Fortean Times (221), 2007I think that there are hardly any historians today, in fact I don't know of any historians today, who doubt the existence of Jesus... So I think that question can be put to rest.N. T. Wright, "The Self-Revelation of God in Human History: A Dialogue on Jesus with N. T. Wright", in Antony Flew & Roy Abraham Vargese, There is a God, New York: HarperOne, 2007, p. 188It is no surprise then that there is no New Testament scholar drawing pay from a post who doubts the existence of Jesus. I know not one. His birth, life, and death in first-century Palestine have never been subject to serious question and, in all likelihood, never will be among those who are experts in the field. The existence of Jesus is a given.Nicholas Perrin, Lost in Transmission?: What We Can Know About the Words of Jesus, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007, p. 32[Robert] Price thinks the evidence is so weak for the historical Jesus that we cannot know anything certain or meaningful about him. He is even willing to entertain the possibility that there never was a historical Jesus. Is the evidence of Jesus really that thin? Virtually no scholar trained in history will agree with Price's negative conclusions... In my view Price's work in the gospels is overpowered by a philosophical mindset that is at odds with historical research—of any kind... What we see in Price is what we have seen before: a flight from fundamentalism.Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008, p. 25I don't think there's any serious historian who doubts the existence of Jesus. There are a lot of people who want to write sensational books and make a lot of money who say Jesus didn't exist. But I don't know any serious scholar who doubts the existence of Jesus.Bart Ehrman, interview with Reginald V. Finley Sr., "Who Changed The New Testament and Why", The Infidel Guy Show, 2008Frankly, I know of no ancient historian or biblical historian who would have a twinge of doubt about the existence of a Jesus Christ - the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming.Graeme Clarke, quoted by John Dickson in "Facts and friction of Easter", The Sydney Morning Herald, March 21, 2008There's no serious question for historians that Jesus actually lived. There’s real issues about whether he is really the way the Bible described him. There’s real issues about particular incidents in his life. But no serious ancient historian doubts that Jesus was a real person, really living in Galilee in the first century.Chris Forbes, interview with John Dickson, "Zeitgeist: Time to Discard the Christian Story?", Center for Public Christianity, 2009Richard [Carrier] takes the extremist position that Jesus of Nazareth never even existed, that there was no such person in history. This is a position that is so extreme that to call it marginal would be an understatement; it doesn’t even appear on the map of contemporary New Testament scholarship.William Lane Craig, "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?", debate with Richard Carrier, 2009No serious historian of any religious or nonreligious stripe doubts that Jesus of Nazareth really lived in the first century and was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea and Samaria. Though this may be common knowledge among scholars, the public may well not be aware of this.Craig A. Evans, "The Shout of Death", in Troy A. Miller, Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2009, p. 3From time to time people try to suggest that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, but virtually all historians of whatever background now agree that he did, and most agree that he did and said a significant amount at least of what the four gospels say he did and said.N. T. Wright, "The Resurrection Was as Shocking Then as It Is Now", The Guardian, 2009
=== 2010+ ===
Scholarship, like everything else, is subject to fashion, and it was the fashion, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for some to deny that Jesus existed. No serious scholar holds that view now, and it is hard to see how it ever took hold, for the evidence of Jesus's existence is abundant.Paul Johnson, Jesus: A 21st Century Biography, New York: Viking, 2010, IntroductionThe thesis that Jesus never existed has hovered around the fringes of research into the New Testament for at least a century but it has never been accepted as a mainstream theory. This is for good reason. It is simply a bad hypothesis based on arguments from silence, special pleading, and an awful lot of wishful thinking. It is ironic that certain atheists will buy into this idea and leave all their pretensions of critical thinking behind.James Hannam, "Is Jesus Christ a Myth?" (Part One), Patheos, 2010, para. 1Historians disagree over the extent to which claims about Jesus’ miraculous nature – and, in particular, his resurrection – are supported by the historical evidence. However, when we turn to the question of whether there was an historical Jesus, we find a clear consensus emerges. The vast majority believe that Jesus’ existence and crucifixion, at least, are firmly established (one rare exception being Robert M. Price).Stephen Law, "Evidence, Miracles and the Existence of Jesus", Faith and Philosophy 2011, Volume 28, Issue 2.[T]here is not a single mythicist who teaches New Testament or Early Christianity or even Classics at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world. And it is no wonder why. These views are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land in a bona fide department of biology.Bart D. Ehrman, "Did Jesus Exist", Huffington Post, March 20, 2012There is a lot of evidence. There is so much evidence... I know in the crowds you hang around with, it's commonly thought that Jesus did not exist. Let me tell you, once you get outside of your conclave, there's nobody. This is not even an issue for scholars of antiquity. There is no scholar in any college or university in the Western world who teaches Classics, Ancient History, New Testament, Early Christianity, or any related field who doubts that Jesus really existed. Now that is not evidence. Just because everybody thinks so doesn't make it evidence. But if you want to know about the theory of evolution versus the theory of creationism, and every scholar in every reputable institution in the world believes in evolution, it may not be evidence, but if you have a different opinion, you better have a pretty good piece of evidence yourself... The reason people think Jesus existed is because he is abundantly attested in early sources... Early and independent sources indicate certainly that Jesus existed. One author that we know about knew Jesus' brother. And knew Jesus' closest disciple Peter. He's an eye witness to both Jesus' closest disciple and his brother. So, I mean I'm sorry but, again I respect your disbelief but if you want to go where the evidence goes... I think that atheists have done themselves a disservice by jumping on the bandwagon of mythicism because, frankly, it makes you look foolish to the outside world. If that's what you are going to believe, you just look foolish. You are much better off going with historical evidence and arguing historically rather than coming up with the theory that Jesus didn't exist.
Bart D. Ehrman, Freedom From Religion Foundation Lecture Q&A (3 May 2014)I should also mention that the biggest reason for the shyness of scholars with respect to the non-historicity thesis had/has to do with academic appointments (as in security thereof)rather than common sense. As a middle-of-the road Hegelian like Strauss discovered.R. Joseph Hoffmann - Comment by rjosephhoffmann on Vridar's post "Christ Myth and Holocaust Denial" — 2010/06/17
== Generally dismissive comments ==
When all the evidence brought against Jesus' historicity is surveyed it is not found to contain any elements of strength.Shirley Jackson Case, "The Historicity of Jesus: An Estimate of the Negative Argument", The American Journal of Theology, 1911, 15 (1)The defectiveness of [the Christ myth theory's] treatment of the traditional evidence is perhaps not so patent in the case of the gospels as it is in the case of the Pauline epistles. Yet fundamentally it is the same. There is the same easy dismissal of all external testimony, the same disdain for the saner conclusions of modern criticism, the same inclination to attach most value to extremes of criticism, the same neglect of all the personal and natural features of the narrative, the same disposition to put skepticism forward in the garb of valid demonstration, and the same ever present predisposition against recognizing any evidence for Jesus' actual existence... The New Testament data are perfectly clear in their testimony to the reality of Jesus' earthly career and they come from a time when the possibility that the early framers of tradition should have been deceived upon this point is out of the question.Shirley Jackson Case, The Historicity Of Jesus, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1912, pp. 76-77 & 269The historical reality both of Buddha and of Christ has sometimes been doubted or denied. It would be just as reasonable to question the historical existence of Alexander the Great and Charlemagne on account of the legends which have gathered round them... The attempt to explain history without the influence of great men may flatter the vanity of the vulgar, but it will find no favour with the philosophic historian.James Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, 7 (3rd ed.), London: Macmillan, 1919, p. 311It would be easy to show how much there enters of the conjectural, of superficial resemblances, of debatable interpretation into the systems of the Drews, the Robertsons, the W. B. Smiths, the Couchouds, or the Stahls... The historical reality of the personality of Jesus alone enables us to understand the birth and development of Christianity, which otherwise would remain an enigma, and in the proper sense of the word, a miracle.Maurice Goguel, Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History?, London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1926, pp. 30 & 244Anyone who talks about "reasonable faith" must say what he thinks about Jesus. And that would still be so even if, with one or two cranks, he believed that He never existed.John W. C. Wand, The Old Faith and the New Age, London: Skeffington & Son, 1933, p. 31In the last analysis, the whole Christ-myth theorizing is a glaring example of obscurantism, if the sin of obscurantism consists in the acceptance of bare possibilities in place of actual probabilities, and of pure surmise in defiance of existing evidence. Those who have not entered far into the laborious inquiry may pretend that the historicity of Jesus is an open question. For me to adopt such a pretence would be sheer intellectual dishonesty. I know I must, as an honest man, reckon with Jesus as a factor in history... This dialectic process whereby the Christ-myth theory discredits itself rests on the simple fact that you cannot attempt to prove the theory without mishandling the evidence.Herbert George Wood, Christianity and the Nature of History, London: Cambridge University Press, 1934, pp. xxxiii & 54I.e. if we leave out of account the Christ-myth theories, which are hardly to be reckoned as within the range of serious criticism.Alexander Roper Vidler, The Modernist Movement in the Roman Church, London: Cambridge University Press, 1934, p. 253Of course, there can be no toleration whatever of the idea that Jesus never existed and is only a concoction from these pagan stories about a god who was slain and rose again.Joseph Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, New York: Menorah, 1943, p. 107That both in the case of the Christians, and in the case of those who worshipped Zagreus or Osiris or Attis, the Divine Being was believed to have died and returned to life, would be a depreciation of Christianity only if it could be shown that the Christian belief was derived from the pagan one. But that can be supposed only by cranks for whom historical evidence is nothing.Edwyn R. Bevan, in Thomas Samuel Kepler, Contemporary Thinking about Paul: An Anthology, New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1950, p. 44Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community.Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus and the Word, New York: Scribner, 1958, p. introductionSuch Christ-myth theories are not now advanced by serious opponents of Christianity—they have long been exploded ..."Gilbert Cope, Symbolism in the Bible and the Church, London: SCM, 1959, p. 14By no means are we at the mercy of those who doubt or deny that Jesus ever lived.Rudolf Bultmann, "The Study of the Synoptic Gospels", Form Criticism: Two Essays on New Testament Research, Rudolf Bultmann & Karl Kundsin; translated by Frederick C. Grant, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1962, p. 62Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the evangelists, they record many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed—the competition of the apostles for high places in the Kingdom, their flight after Jesus' arrest, Peter's denial, the failure of Christ to work miracles in Galilee, the references of some auditors to his possible insanity, his early uncertainty as to his mission, his confessions of ignorance as to the future, his moments of bitterness, his despairing cry on the cross; no one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. 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 Gospel.Will Durant, Christ and Caesar, The Story of Civilization, 3, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972, p. 557In the early years of this century, various theses were propounded which all assert that Jesus never lived, and that the story of Jesus is a myth or legend. These claims have long since been exposed as historical nonsense. There can be no reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth lived in Palestine in the first three decades of our era, probably from 6-7 BC to 30 AD. That is a fact.Walter Kasper, Jesus the Christ, Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1976, p. 65Whatever else Jesus may or may not have done, he unquestionably* started the process that became Christianity…UNQUESTIONABLY: The proposition has been questioned, but the alternative explanations proposed—the theories of the “Christ myth school,” etc.—have been thoroughly discredited.
Morton Smith, Jesus the Magician, New York: Harper & Row, 1978, pp. 5 & 166The alternative thesis... that within thirty years there had evolved such a coherent and consistent complex of traditions about a non-existent figure such as we have in the sources of the Gospels is just too implausible. It involves too many complex and speculative hypotheses, in contrast to the much simpler explanation that there was a Jesus who said and did more or less what the first three Gospels attribute to him.James D. G. Dunn, The Evidence for Jesus, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1985, p. 29When Professor Wells advances such an explanation of the gospel stories [i.e. the Christ myth theory] he presents us with a piece of private mythology that I find incredible beyond anything in the gospels.Morton Smith, in R. Joseph Hoffman, Jesus in History and Myth, Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1986, p. 48Dr. Wells was there [I.e. a symposium at the University of Michigan] and he presened his radical thesis that maybe Jesus never existed. Virtually nobody holds this position today. It was reported that Dr. Morton Smith of Columbia University, even though he is a skeptic himself, responded that Dr. Wells's view was "absurd".Gary Habermas, in Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?: The Resurrection Debate, San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989, p. 45The pseudoscholarship of the early twentieth century calling in question the historical reality of Jesus was an ingenuous attempt to argue a preconceived position.Gerard Stephen Sloyan, The Crucifixion of Jesus: History, Myth, Faith, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995, p. 9We do not need to take seriously those writers who occasionally claim that Jesus never existed at all, for we have clear evidence to the contrary from a number of Jewish, Latin, and Islamic sources.John Drane, "Introduction", in John Drane, The Great Sayings of Jesus: Proverbs, Parables and Prayers, New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 1999, p. 23We can be certain that Jesus really existed (despite a few highly motivated skeptics who refuse to be convinced), that he was a Jewish teacher in Galilee, and that he was crucified by the Roman government around 30 CE.Robert J. Miller, The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics, Santa Rosa: Polebridge, 1999, p. 38Apart from the occasional fringe attempt to show that Jesus was born among the Gentile population of Palestine, or that Jesus never existed but was merely a mythic creation, there is no doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was born, lived, taught, and died as a Jew in the land of Israel in what we call the first century A.D.Daniel J. Harrington, "Retrieving the Jewishness of Jesus: Recent Developments", in Bryan F. Le Beau, Leonard J. Greenspoon, and Dennis Hamm's The Historical Jesus through Catholic and Jewish Eyes, Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000, 67[The non-Christian references to Jesus from the first two centuries] render highly implausible any farfetched theories that even Jesus' very existence was a Christian invention. The fact that Jesus existed, that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate (for whatever reason) and that he had a band of followers who continued to support his cause, seems to be the part of the bedrock of historical tradition. If nothing else, the non-Christian evidence can provide us with certainty on that score.Christopher M. Tuckett, "Sources and Methods" in The Cambridge Companion to Jesus, London: Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 124An examination of the claims for and against the historicity of Jesus thus reveals that the difficulties faced by those undertaking to prove that he is not historical, in the fields both of the history of religion and the history of doctrine, and not least in the interpretation of the earliest tradition are far more numerous and profound than those which face their opponents. Seen in their totality, they must be considered as having no possible solution. Added to this, all hypotheses which have so far been put forward to the effect that Jesus never lived are in the strangest opposition to each other, both in their method of working and their interpretation of the Gospel reports, and thus merely cancel each other out. Hence we must conclude that the supposition that Jesus did exist is exceedingly likely, whereas its converse is exceedingly unlikely. This does not mean that the latter will not be proposed again from time to time, just as the romantic view of the life of Jesus is also destined for immortality. It is even able to dress itself up with certain scholarly technique, and with a little skillful manipulation can have much influence on the mass of people. But as soon as it does more than engage in noisy polemics with 'theology' and hazards an attempt to produce real evidence, it immediately reveals itself to be an implausible hypothesis.Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, translated by John Bowden et al., Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001, pp. 435–436An extreme instance of pseudo-history of this kind is the “explanation” of the whole story of Jesus as a myth.Emil Brunner, The Mediator: A Study of the Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith, Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 2002, p. 164Some writers may toy with the fancy of a 'Christ-myth,' but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the 'Christ-myth' theories.F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (6th ed.), Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003, p. 123[A]n attempt to show that Jesus never existed has been made in recent years by G. A. Wells, a Professor of German who has ventured into New Testament study and presents a case that the origins of Christianity can be explained without assuming that Jesus really lived. Earlier presentations of similar views at the turn of the century failed to make any impression on scholarly opinion, and it is certain that this latest presentation of the case will not fare any better. For of course the evidence is not confined to Tacitus; there are the New Testament documents themselves, nearly all of which must be dated in the first century, and behind which there lies a period of transmission of the story of Jesus which can be traced backwards to a date not far from that when Jesus is supposed to have lived. To explain the rise of this tradition without the hypothesis of Jesus is impossible.Ian Howard Marshall, I Believe in the Historical Jesus (rev. ed.), Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2004, pp. 15–16While The Christ Myth alarmed many who were innocent of learning, it evoked only Olympian scorn from the historical establishment, who were confident that Jesus had existed... The Christ-myth theory, then, won little support from the historical specialists. In their judgement, it sought to demonstrate a perverse thesis, and it preceded by drawing the most far-fetched, even bizarre connection between mythologies of very diverse origin. The importance of the theory lay, not in its persuasiveness to the historians (since it had none), but in the fact that it invited theologians to renewed reflection on the questions of faith and history.Brian A. Gerrish, The Old Protestantism and the New: Essays on the Reformation Heritage, London: T. & T. Clark, 2004, p. 231 & 233Since the Enlightenment, the Gospel stories about the life of Jesus have been in doubt. Intellectuals then as now asked: 'What makes the stories of the New Testament any more historically probable than Aesop's fables or Grimm's fairy tales?' The critics can be answered satisfactorily...For all the rigor of the standard it sets, the criterion [of embarrassment] demonstrates that Jesus existed.Alan F. Segal, "Believe Only the Embarrassing", Slate, 2005In the academic mind, there can be no more doubt whatsoever that Jesus existed than did Augustus and Tiberius, the emperors of his lifetime. Even if we assume for a moment that the accounts of non-biblical authors who mention him - Flavius Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger and others - had not survived, the outstanding quality of the Gospels, Paul's letters and other New Testament writings is more than good enough for the historian.Carsten Peter Thiede, Jesus, Man or Myth?, Oxford: Lion, 2005, p. 23In fact, there is more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth certainly lived than for most famous figures of the ancient past. This evidence is of two kinds: internal and external, or, if you will, sacred and secular. In both cases, the total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus' existence. And yet this pathetic denial is still parroted by 'the village atheist,' bloggers on the internet, or such organizations as the Freedom from Religion Foundation.Paul L. Maier, "Did Jesus Really Exist?", 4Truth.net, 2007Some nineteenth-century rationaists maintained that he never existed, that the gospels portrayed an ideal Jew who never was. A clutch of German and British writers was capable of that historical nonsense, some of which has resurfaced. It would be easier to establish that there never was an emperor Nerva, a name invented to fill the gap of ignorance of the years between Domitian and Trajan.Gerard Stephen Sloyan, Jesus: Word Made Flesh, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008, p. 160A school of thought popular with cranks on the Internet holds that Jesus didn’t actually exist.Tom Breen, The Messiah Formerly Known as Jesus: Dispatches from the Intersection of Christianity and Pop Culture, Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2008, p. 138This is always the fatal flaw of the 'Jesus myth' thesis: the improbability of the total invention of a figure who had purportedly lived within the generation of the inventors, or the imposition of such an elaborate myth on some minor figure from Galilee. [Robert] Price is content with the explanation that it all began 'with a more or less vague savior myth.' Sad, really."James D. G. Dunn, "Response to Robert M. Price", in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy, The Historical Jesus: Five Views, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009, p. 98Jesus is in no danger of suffering Catherine [of Alexandria]'s fate as an unhistorical myth...Dale C. Allison, The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009, p. 37Mythicism isn't about treating historical sources in the same way across the board. It is entirely the purview of people with a vendetta against Christianity, although even in such circles there are plenty who do not find it persuasive. And it must be emphasized that it is taken no more seriously among mainstream historians than in Biblical studies.James F. McGrath, "Mythicism vs. the Socratic Historians", Exploring Our Matrix, 2010This view [that Jesus never existed] is demonstrably false. It is fuelled by a regrettable form of atheist prejudice, which holds all the main primary sources, and Christian people, in contempt. This is not merely worse than the American Jesus Seminar, it is no better than Christian fundamentalism. It simply has different prejudices. Most of its proponents are also extraordinarily incompetent.Maurice Casey, Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian's Account of His Life and Teaching, New York: T&T Clark, 2010, p. 499Some skeptics have maintained that the best account of the biblical and historical evidence is the theory that Jesus never existed; that is, that Jesus' existence is a myth (Well 1999). Such a view is controversial and not widely held even by anti-Christian thinkers.Michael Martin, "Skeptical Perspectives on Jesus' Resurrection", in Delbert Burkett's The Blackwell Companion to Jesus, Oxford: Blackwell, 2011, p. 285
== Denialist Comparisons ==
I feel that I ought almost to apologize to my readers for investigating at such length the hypothesis of a pre-Christian Jesus, son of a mythical Mary, and for exhibiting over so many pages its fantastic, baseless, and absurd character... We must [, according to Christ myth advocates,] perforce suppose that the Gospels were a covert tribute to the worth and value of Pagan mythology and religious dramas, to pagan art and statuary. If we adopt the mythico-symbolical method, they can have been nothing else. Its sponsors might surely condescend to explain the alchemy by which the ascertained rites and beliefs of early Christians were distilled from these antecedents. The effect and the cause are so entirely disparate, so devoid of any organic connection, that we would fain see the evolution worked out a little more clearly. At one end of it we have a hurly-burly of pagan myths, at the other an army of Christian apologists inveighing against everything pagan and martyred for doing so, all within a space of sixty or seventy years. I only hope the orthodox will be gratified to learn that their Scriptures are a thousandfold more wonderful and unique than they appeared to be when they were merely inspired by the Holy Spirit. For verbal inspiration is not, as regards its miraculous quality, in the same field with mythico-symbolism. Verily we have discovered a new literary genus, unexampled in the history of mankind, you rake together a thousand irrelevant thrums of mythology, picked up at random from every age, race, and clime; you get a "Christist" to throw them into a sack and shake them up; you open it, and out come the Gospels. In all the annals of the Bacon-Shakespeareans we have seen nothing like it.Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare, The Historical Christ, or an Investigation of the Views of J. M. Robertson, A. Drews and W. B. Smith, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library, 2009/1914, pp. 42 & 95A phone call from the BBC’s flagship Today programme: would I go on air on Good Friday morning to debate with the aurthors of a new book, The Jesus Mysteries? The book claims (or so they told me) that everything in the Gospels reflects, because it was in fact borrowed from, much older pagan myths; that Jesus never existed; that the early church knew it was propagating a new version of an old myth, and that the developed church covered this up in the interests of its own power and control. The producer was friendly, and took my point when I said that this was like asking a professional astronomer to debate with the authors of a book claiming the moon was made of green cheese.N. T. Wright, "Jesus' Self Understanding", in Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, Gerald O’Collins, The Incarnation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 48To describe Jesus' non-existence as "not widely supported" is an understatement. It would be akin to me saying, "It is possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported, scientific case that the 1969 lunar landing never happened." There are fringe conspiracy theorists who believe such things - but no expert does. Likewise with the Jesus question: his non-existence is not regarded even as a possibility in historical scholarship. Dismissing him from the ancient record would amount to a wholesale abandonment of the historical method.John Dickson, Jesus: A Short Life, Oxford: Lion, 2008, 22-23.The very logic that tells us there was no Jesus is the same logic that pleads that there was no Holocaust.Nicholas Perrin, Lost in Transmission?: What We Can Know About the Words of Jesus, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007, p. 32Along with the scholarly and popular works, there is a good deal of pseudoscholarship on Jesus that finds its way into print. During the last two centuries more than a hundred books and articles have denied the historical existence of Jesus. Today innumerable websites carry the same message... Most scholars regard the arguments for Jesus' non-existence as unworthy of any response—on a par with claims that the Jewish Holocaust never occurred or that the Apollo moon landing took place in a Hollywood studio.Michael James McClymond, Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004, pp. 8 & 23–24You know that you can try to minimize your biases, but you can't eliminate them. That's why you have to put certain checks and balances in place… Under this approach, we only consider facts that meet two criteria. First, there must be very strong historical evidence supporting them. And secondly, the evidence must be so strong that the vast majority of today's scholars on the subject—including skeptical ones—accept these as historical facts. You're never going to get everyone to agree. There are always people who deny the Holocaust or question whether Jesus ever existed, but they're on the fringe.Micael R. Licona, in Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007, p. 112If I understand what Earl Doherty is arguing, Neil, it is that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as an historical person, or, at least that historians, like myself, presume that he did and act on that fatally flawed presumption. I am not sure, as I said earlier, that one can persuade people that Jesus did exist as long as they are ready to explain the entire phenomenon of historical Jesus and earliest Christianity either as an evil trick or a holy parable. I had a friend in Ireland who did not believe that Americans had landed on the moon but that they had created the entire thing to bolster their cold-war image against the communists. I got nowhere with him. So I am not at all certain that I can prove that the historical Jesus existed against such an hypothesis and probably, to be honest, I am not even interested in trying.John Dominic Crossan, "Historical Jesus: Materials and Methodology", XTalk, 2000A hundred and fifty years ago a fairly well respected scholar named Bruno Bauer maintained that the historical person Jesus never existed. Anyone who says that today—in the academic world at least—gets grouped with the skinheads who say there was no Holocaust and the scientific holdouts who want to believe the world is flat.Mark Allan Powell, Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998, p. 168When they say that Christian beliefs about Jesus are derived from pagan mythology, I think you should laugh. Then look at them wide-eyed and with a big grin, and exclaim, 'Do you really believe that?' Act as though you've just met a flat earther or Roswell conspirator.William Lane Craig, "Question 90: Jesus and Pagan Mythology", Reasonable Faith, 2009Finley: There are some people in the chat room disagreeing, of course, but they’re saying that there really isn’t any hardcore evidence, though, that… I mean… but there isn’t any… any evidence, really, that Jesus did exist except what people were saying about him. But… Ehrman: I think… I disagree with that. Finley: Really? Ehrman: I mean, what hardcore evidence is there that Julius Caesar existed? Finley: Well, this is… this is the same kind of argument that apologists use, by the way, for the existence of Jesus, by the way. They like to say the same thing you said just then about, well, what kind of evidence do you have for Jul… Ehrman: Well, I mean, it’s… but it’s just a typical… it’s just… It’s a historical point; I mean, how do you establish the historical existence of an individual from the past? Finley: I guess… I guess it depends on the claims… Right, it depends on the claims that people have made during that particular time about a particular person and their influence on society... Ehrman: It’s not just the claims. There are… One has to look at historical evidence. And if you… If you say that historical evidence doesn’t count, then I think you get into huge trouble. Because then, how do… I mean… then why not just deny the Holocaust?Bart Ehrman, interview with Reginald V. Finley Sr., "Who Changed The New Testament and Why", The Infidel Guy Show, 2008The denial that Christ was crucified is like the denial of the Holocaust. For some it's simply too horrific to affirm. For others it's an elaborate conspiracy to coerce religious sympathy. But the deniers live in a historical dreamworld.John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, Wheaton: Crossway, 2006, pp. 14-15I just finished reading, The Historical Jesus: Five Views. The first view was given by Robert Price, a leading Jesus myth proponent… The title of Price’s chapter is 'Jesus at the Vanishing Point.' I am convinced that if Price's total skepticism were applied fairly and consistently to other figures in ancient history (Alexander the Great, Ptolemy, Cleopatra, Nero, etc.), they would all be reduced to 'the vanishing point.' Price's chapter is a perfect example of how someone can always, always find excuses to not believe something they don't want to believe, whether that be the existence of Jesus or the existence of the holocaust.Dennis Ingolfsland, "Five views of the historical Jesus", The Recliner Commentaries, 2009The Jesus mythers will continue to advance their thesis and complain of being kept outside of the arena of serious academic discussion. They carry their signs, 'Jesus Never Existed!' 'They won’t listen to me!' and label those inside the arena as 'Anti-Intellectuals,' 'Fundamentalists,' 'Misguided Liberals,' and 'Flat-Earthers.' Doherty & Associates are baffled that all but a few naïve onlookers pass them by quickly, wagging their heads and rolling their eyes. They never see that they have a fellow picketer less than a hundred yards away, a distinguished looking man from Iran. He too is frustrated and carries a sign that says 'The Holocaust Never Happened!'Michael R. Licona, "Licona Replies to Doherty's Rebuttal", Answering Infidels, 2005Of course, no "universal consensus" [regarding historical theses] should be sought, since there will always be those who make their abode on the fringe. There are a few today who assert that Jesus is a myth who never existed, although it appears that no widely respected scholar hold this position. There are also those who deny there ever was a Holocaust.Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010, pp. 62-63It is almost cruelty to begin picking on the methodological wowsers implied in the reasoning of the mythtics–-the Jesus-deniers--who conflate God denying and Jesus denying as though they were on the same level of discussion and susceptible of the same kinds of proof. Embarrassing–-really–-because these same folk who hold up the scientific method to religionists want to walk past the complex evidence of textual and linguistic studies as though it weren’t there. … In their own areas, it would be as though the supporters of flat earth theory and spontaneous generation were given equal time at the podium and a spotlight to scoff at astronomy and biology, but—the impoverished reasoning seems to run—this is Biblical studies—how serious do you have to be?R. Joseph Hoffman, "Mythtic Pizza and Cold-cocked Scholars", The New Oxonian, 2012In a society in which people still claim the Holocaust did not happen, and in which there are resounding claims that the American president is, in fact, a Muslim born on foreign soil, is it any surprise to learn that the greatest figure in the history of Western civilization, the man on whom the most powerful and influential social, political, economic, cultural and religious institution in the world -- the Christian church -- was built, the man worshipped, literally, by billions of people today -- is it any surprise to hear that Jesus never even existed?Bart D. Ehrman, "Did Jesus Exist?", Huffington Post, March 30, 2012I think I'm not alone in feeling that to show the ill-informed and illogical nature of the current wave of "mythicist" proponents is a bit like having to demonstrate that the earth isn't flat, or that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth, or that the moon-landings weren't done on a movie lot.Larry Hurtado, "The 'Did Jesus Exist' Controversy and Its Precedents", Larry Hurtado's Blog, July 23, 2012Perhaps the most puzzling claim [put forward by mythicists], that would be amusing were it not apparently asserted so seriously, is that sometime in the 1980s a massive conspiracy (by “New Evangelical” interests) engineered the appointment of scholars in departments of Religion, Classics, Ancient History, etc., and that it managed to skew scholarly opinion, even among Jewish scholars and people of no religious affiliation, to support the historical existence of a Jesus of Nazareth. Hmm. That’s right up there with the notion that the Twin Towers were destroyed by the CIA! (Is there something in the drinking water nowadays in some places?) Certainly, many of those who have engaged the current “mythicist” issue (e.g., Maurice Casey) would be surprised to learn that their views have been shaped ingeniously without their knowing it by this “New Evangelical” cabal eager to prop up traditional Christianity!Larry Hurtado, "The 'Did Jesus Exist' Controversy–Encore", Larry Hurtado's Blog, July 23, 2012
== External links ==
Solar Mythology and the Jesus Story