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Christ myth theory

 

Christ myth theory

For discussion of Jesus in a comparative mythological and religious context, see Jesus Christ in comparative mythology, and for the body of myths associated with Christianity, see Christian mythology. For the scholarly study of the life of Jesus, see Historical Jesus, for analysis of information supporting the historical existence of Jesus, see Historicity of Jesus and Sources for the historicity of Jesus, and for the debate over the validity of stories in the New Testament, see Historical reliability of the Gospels.
Christ myth theory
The Resurrection of Christ by Noel Coypel (1700)—Some myth theorists see this as a case of a dying-and-rising god.
Description Jesus of Nazareth never existed; or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels.
Early proponents

Charles François Dupuis (1742–1809)
Constantin-François Volney (1757–1820)

Richard Carlile (1790-1843)
Bruno Bauer (1809–1882)
Edwin Johnson (1842-1901)
Dutch Radical School (1880-1950)
Albert Kalthoff (1850–1906)
W. B. Smith (1850–1934)
J. M. Robertson (1856–1933)
Thomas Whittaker (1856-1935)
Arthur Drews (1865–1935)
Paul-Louis Couchoud (1879-1959)
Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880–1963)
Modern proponents G. A. Wells, Tom Harpur, Michael Martin, Thomas L. Thompson, Thomas L. Brodie, Robert M. Price, Richard Carrier, Earl Doherty
Subjects Historical Jesus, Early Christianity, Ancient history

The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the hypothesis that Jesus of Nazareth never existed; or if he did, that he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels.[1][2][3] The Christ myth theory contradicts the mainstream view in historical Jesus research, which accepts that many of the events described in the gospels are not historical but which still assumes that the gospels are founded on a basic historical core.

Different proponents espouse slightly different versions of the Christ myth theory, but many proponents of the theory use a three-fold argument first developed in the 19th century:

  • that the New Testament has no historical value
  • that there are no non-Christian references to Jesus Christ dating back to the first century
  • that Christianity had pagan or mythical roots.[4]

The core tenets of the Christ myth theory trace their history back through the Enlightenment to the conflicts in the first Christian centuries.[5][6][7]

Despite this there remains a strong consensus in historical-critical biblical scholarship that a historical Jesus did live in that area and in that time period.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14] However, scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus,[15] and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate[16][17][18] (although some argue that "the only thing New Testament scholars seem to agree on is Jesus’ historical existence" [19]). Some scholars have made the case that there are a number of plausible "Jesuses" that could have existed, that there can be no certainty as to which Jesus was the historical Jesus.[20][21]

Contents

  • Notable proponents 1
    • 18–19th centuries 1.1
      • Volney and Dupuis 1.1.1
      • Strauss 1.1.2
      • Bauer 1.1.3
      • Higgins 1.1.4
      • Graves 1.1.5
      • Massey 1.1.6
      • Radical Dutch school 1.1.7
    • 20th century 1.2
    • 21st century 1.3
  • Criticism 2
  • Books 3
  • Documentaries 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Sources 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Notable proponents

18–19th centuries

Volney and Dupuis

a sketch of a bust of Constantin-François Chassebœuf
French historian Constantin-François Volney, one of the earliest myth theorists

The beginnings of the formal denial of the existence of Jesus can be traced to late 18th-century France, and the works of Constantin François Chassebœuf de Volney and Charles-François Dupuis.[22][23] Volney and Dupuis argued that Christianity was an amalgamation of various ancient mythologies and that Jesus was a totally mythical character.[22][24]

Dupuis argued that ancient rituals in Syria, Egypt and Persia had influenced the Christian story which was allegorized as the histories of solar deities, such as Sol Invictus.[25] He argued also that Jewish and Christian scriptures could be interpreted according to the solar pattern, e.g. the Fall of Man in Genesis being an allegory of the hardship caused by winter, and the resurrection of Jesus an allegory for the growth of the sun's strength in the sign of Aries at the spring equinox.[25]

Volney argued that

  • Religious Tolerance General outline of range of views on Jesus from classical Christian to Jesus a mere man and Jesus entirely mythical
  • Washington Post article Ex-Christian Bart Ehrman's defense of Jesus' existence in Washington Post

External links

Books and papers
  • Brunner, Constantin. "Criticism", appendix to Our Christ: the revolt of the mystical genius, Retrieved 2010-08-05.
  • Case, Shirley Jackson. "The Historicity of Jesus: An Estimate of the Negative Argument", The American Journal of Theology, Vol. 15, No. 1, January 1911, pp. 20–42.
  • Case, Shirley Jackson. "Jesus' Historicity: A Statement of the Problem", The American Journal of Theology, Vol. 15, No. 2, April 1911, pp. 626–628.
  • Case, Shirley Jackson. "Recent books on the question of Jesus' existence", The American Journal of Theology, Vol. 15, No. 4, October 1911, pp. 626–628.
  • Clemen, Carl. Der geschichtliche Jesus: Eine allgemeinverständliche Untersuchung der Frage: Hat Jesus gelebt, und was wollte er?. Töpelmann, 1911.
  • Evans, Elizabeth Edson Gibson. The Christ Myth: A Study, Book Tree 2000; first published 1900.
  • Habermas, Gary R. The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ. College Press, 1996.
  • Fau, Guy. La fable de Jésus-Christ. Éditions de l'Union rationaliste, 1964.
  • Mangasarian, Managasar Mugwiditch. The truth about Jesus. Is he a myth?. Princeton Theological Seminary Library, 1909.
  • Alfaric, Prosper. Jésus a-t-il existé?. Coda Publishing 2005; first published 1932.
  • Prosper, Alfaric. Le problème de Jésus. Cercle Ernest-Renan, 1954.
  • Robertson, John Mackinnon. The Jesus problem; a restatement of the myth theory, 1917.
  • Rossington, Herbert J. Did Jesus really live? a reply to The Christ myth, 1911.
  • Taylor, Robert. Syntagma of the Evidences of the Christian Religion. London 1828.
  • Taylor, Robert. The Diegesis: Being a Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity. A. Kneeland 1834; composed while Taylor was in Oakham Goal after being convicted of blasphemy, 1829.
  • Telford, John and Barber, Benjamin Aquila. The London quarterly review, volume 4, 1912, p. 191.
  • Troeltsch, Ernst. Die Bedeutung der Geschichtlichkeit Jesu für den Glauben. Mohr, 1911.
  • Zindler, Frank R. The Jesus the Jews Never Knew. American Atheist Press, 2003.

Further reading

  • Allegro, John M. The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross. Hodder & Stoughton, 1970.
  • Allegro, John M. The Dead Sea Scrolls & the Christian Myth. Prometheus 1992, first published 1979.
  • Avalos, Hector. The End of Biblical Studies. Prometheus, 2007.
  • Arvidsson, Stefan. Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science. University of Chicago Press, 2006.
  • Bader, Christopher, et al. American Piety in the 21st Century. Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, 2006.
  • Barker, Dan. Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists. Ulysses, 2008.
  • Barnett, Paul. Jesus and the Logic of History. InterVarsity, 2001.
  • Barnett, Paul. Messiah Jesus – the evidence of history. InterVarsity, 2009.
  • Barrett, David V. The Gospel According to Bart", Fortean Times issue 221, 2007.
  • Bauckham, Richard. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Eerdmans, 2006.
  • Beilby, James K. and Eddy, Paul Rhodes. "The Quest for the Historical Jesus," in James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.). The Historical Jesus: Five Views. Intervarsity, 2009.
  • Bennett, Clinton. In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images. Continuum, 2001.
  • Berdyaev, Nikolai. "The Scientific Discipline of Religion and Christian Apologetics," Put, volume 6, 1927.
  • Bevan, Edwyn R. The History of Christianity in the Light of Modern Knowledge. Blackie & Son, 1929.
  • Bevan, Edwyn R. Hellenism And Christianity. G. Allen & Unwin, 1930.
  • Blomberg, Craig L. "Gospels (Historical Reliability)" in Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, & I. Howard Marshall (eds.) Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. InterVarsity, 1992.
  • Bolland, G. J. P. J. De Evangelische Jozua", 1907.
  • Bornkamm, Günther. Jesus of Nazareth. Fortress, 1995, first published 1959.
  • Brandon, S. G. F. "The Ritual Perpetuation of the Past", Numen, volume 6, issue 1, 1959.
  • Breen, Tom. The Messiah Formerly Known as Jesus. Baylor University Press, 2008.
  • Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (ed.) "Jesus Christ," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Eerdmans, 1982.
  • Bruce, F. F. Paul and Jesus SPCK, 1977.
  • Brunner, Emil. The Mediator: A Study of the Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith. Lutterworth, 2002, first published 1934.
  • Burkert, Walter. Ancient Mystery Cults. Harvard University Press, 1989.
  • Cadbury, Henry J. The Eclipse of the Historical Jesus. Pendle Hill, 1964.
  • Bushby, Tony, The Bible Fraud, The Pacific Group, 2001.
  • Case, Shirley Jackson. "The Historicity of Jesus: An Estimate of the Negative Argument", The American Journal of Theology, volume 15, issue 1, 1911.
  • Centre for Public Christianity. "New survey finds over half of Australians think Jesus rose from the dead", 2009, Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  • Charlesworth, James H. Jesus and Archaeology. Erdmans, 2006.
  • Communication Research. Theos: Easter Survey, February 2008, Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  • Conybeare, Frederick Cornwallis. "The Historical Christ, or, An investigation of the views of Mr. J.M. Robertson, Dr. A. Drews, and Prof. W.B. Smith", Watts & Co, 1914.
  • Costa, Tony. "Jesus is Dead"Review of , Review of Biblical Literature, 2009.
  • Cutner, Herbert Jesus—God, Man or Myth : An Examination of the Evidence. Book Tree, 2000, first published 1950.
  • Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
  • Dickson, John. Jesus: A Short Life. Lion Hudson, 2008.
  • Dickson, John. "Facts and friction of Easter", The Sydney Morning Herald, March 21, 2008.
  • Doherty, Earl. The Jesus Puzzle", Journal of Higher Criticism, volume 4, issue 2, 1997.
  • Drews, Arthur. Die Christusmythe. Eugen Diederichs, 1910, published in English as The Christ Myth, Prometheus, 1910.
  • Dunn, James D. G. "Myth" in Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight, & I. Howard Marshall (ed.) Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. InterVarsity, 1992.
  • Dunn, James D. G. The Christ and the Spirit. Eerdmans, 1998.
  • Dunn, James D. G. Jesus Remembered. Eerdmans, 2003.
  • Dunn, James D. G. "Response to Robert M. Price" in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy. The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009.
  • Dunn, James D. G. "Response to Robert M. Price" in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy. The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009.
  • Dupuis, Charles François. The Origin of All Religious Worship. Kessinger, 2007, first published 1794.
  • Durant, Will. Christ and Caesar. Simon & Schuster, 1972.
  • Eddy, Paul R. and Boyd, Gregory A. The Jesus Legend. Baker Academic, 2007.
  • Ehrman, Bart. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. 2007.
  • Ehrman, Bart. Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them). 2010.
  • Ehrman, Bart. Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperOne, 2012.
  • Engels, Friedrich. "Bruno Bauer and Early Christianity", Der Sozialdemokrat, May 1882.
  • Evans, Craig A. "Life-of-Jesus Research and the Eclipse of Mythology", Theological Studies, volume 54, 1993.
  • Evans, Craig A. Fabricating Jesus. InterVarsity, 2008, p. 220–221.
  • Evans, Henry Ridgely. The Napoleon Myth. Open Court, 1995.
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  • Forbes, Chris. "Zeitgeist: Time to Discard the Christian Story?", Center for Public Christianity, 2009, Retrieved 2010-08-04.
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  • Frazer, James. The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion. Macmillan, 1919.
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  • Fredriksen, Paula. From Jesus to Christ. Yale University Press, 2000.
  • Freke, Timothy and Gandy, Peter. The Jesus Mysteries. Thorsons, 1999.
  • Gerrish, Brian A. Jesus, Myth, and History: Troeltsch's Stand in the 'Christ-Myth' Debate", The Journal of Religion, volume 55, issue 1, 1975.
  • Goguel, Maurice. Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History?. T. Fisher Unwin, 1926.
  • Goguel, Maurice. "Recent French Discussion of the Historical Existence of Jesus Christ," Harvard Theological Review, volume 19, issue 2, 1926, pp. 115–142.
  • Graham, Lloyd M., Deceptions and Myths of the Bible, Citadel Press, 1975.
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  • Haber, Edyth C. "The Mythic Bulgakov: 'The Master and Margarita' and Arthur Drews's 'The Christ Myth'", Slavic & East European Journal, volume 43, issue 2, 1999.
Habermas, Gary; Licona, Michael (2004). The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Kregel Publications.  
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Sources

  1. ^ Mitchell, Logan (1842). The Christian mythology unveiled, lectures. Cousins. p. 151. Jesus Christ in the New Testament, has no reference whatever to any event that ever did in reality take place upon this globe; or to any personages that ever in truth existed: and that the whole is an astronomical allegory, or parable, having invariably a primary and sacred allusion to the sun, and his passage through the signs of the zodiac; or a verbal representation of the phenomena of the solar year and seasons. (Image of Title page & p. 151 at Google Books) 
  2. ^ Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12, ""In simpler terms, the historical Jesus did not exist . Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity." further quoting as authoritative the fuller definition provided by Earl Doherty in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Age of Reason, 2009, pp. vii-viii: it 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."
  3. ^  
  4. ^ "Jesus Outside the New Testament" Robert E. Van Voorst, 2000, p=8-9
  5. ^  
  6. ^ God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens, 2007, Chapter 8
  7. ^ "The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David" Thomas L. Thompson Basic Book Perseus Books' 2005
  8. ^ James D. G. Dunn "Paul's understanding of the death of Jesus" in Sacrifice and Redemption edited by S. W. Sykes (Dec 3, 2007) Cambridge University Press ISBN 052104460X pages 35-36
  9. ^ Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34
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  13. ^ Did Jesus Exist?:The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.  
  14. ^ B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285
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  16. ^ a b Jesus Remembered by James D. G. Dunn 2003 ISBN 0-8028-3931-2 page 339 states of baptism and crucifixion that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent".
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  18. ^ a b Crossan, John Dominic (1995). Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne. p. 145.  
  19. ^ Lataster, Raphael (2014-12-18). "Did historical Jesus really exist? The evidence just doesn’t add up.". The Washington Post (in en-US).  
  20. ^ Is This Not the Carpenter?: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus, Ed. By Thomas L. Thompson and Thomas S. Verenna, 2012
  21. ^ at bibleinterp.comDoes Jesus Exist?Davies' article
  22. ^ a b Weaver 1999, p. 45-50.
  23. ^ Schweitzer 2001, p. 355ff.
  24. ^ Voorst 2000, p. 8.
  25. ^ a b c Wells 1969.
  26. ^ British Romantic Writers and the East by Nigel Leask (Jun 24, 2004) ISBN 0521604443 Cambridge Univ Press pages 104 -105
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  30. ^ The Making of the New Spirituality by James A. Herrick 2003 ISBN 0-8308-2398-0 pages 58–65
  31. ^ Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth by Michael J. McClymond (Mar 22, 2004) ISBN 0802826806 page 82
  32. ^ The historical Jesus question by Gregory W. Dawes 2001 ISBN 0-664-22458-X pages 77–79
  33. ^ See Douglas R McGaughey, "On D.F. Strauß and the 1839 Revolution in Zurich"
  34. ^ a b Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 pages 7-11
  35. ^ Beilby, James K. and Eddy, Paul Rhodes. "The Quest for the Historical Jesus", in James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.). The Historical Jesus: Five Views. Intervarsity, 2009, p. 16.
    • See Strauss, David. "The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, Calvin Blanchard, 1860.
  36. ^ Dawkins, 2006, p. 96
  37. ^ Bart D. Ehrman. Did Jesus Exist?:The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, HarperCollins, USA, 2012, p. 47 ISBN 978-0-06-220460-8
  38. ^ Gerald O'Collins, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. 2009, pp. 1–3. ISBN 0-19-955787-X
  39. ^ Erik Hornung. The Secret Lore of Egypt and its Impact on the West, Cornell University Press, 2001, p. 73. ISBN 0801438470
  40. ^ John M. Robertson. Christianity and Mythology, Watts & Co., London, 2001, p. 73, ISBN 0766187683
  41. ^ Martin Hengel. Crucifixion in the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross John Bowden, Fortress Press, 1977, p. 11, ISBN 080061268X
  42. ^ Arthur Drews. The Christ Myth, 1909
  43. ^ Robert M. Price.The Christ Myth Theory and its Problems 2011, p. 132, ISBN 9781578840175
  44. ^ Zacharias P. Thundy. Buddha and Christ: Nativity Stories and Indian Traditions, Brill Academic Pub, 1993, pp. 80–81 ISBN 9004097414
  45. ^ Nigel Leask. British Romantic Writers and the East Cambridge Univ Press, 2004' pp. 104–105 ISBN 0521604443
  46. ^ Ehrman, 2013, p. 208
  47. ^ Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Fortress, 2001; first published 1913, pp. 124–128, 139–141.
  48. ^ Moggach, Douglas. The Philosophy and Politics of Bruno Bauer. Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 184. *Also see Engels, Frederick. "Bruno Bauer and Early Christianity", Der Sozialdemokrat, May 1882.
  49. ^ In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images by Clinton Bennett (Dec 1, 2001) ISBN 0826449166 Continuum page 204
  50. ^ Tom Harpur, 2004, p. 30
  51. ^ Tom Harpur, 2004, p. 59
  52. ^ a b Tom Harpur, 2004, p. 200
  53. ^ Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier (2003)
  54. ^ Tom Harpur, 2004, The Pagan Christ
  55. ^ Harpur's response to Porter and Gasque
  56. ^ a b c Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 10
  57. ^ a b Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Fortress, 2001; first published 1913, pp. 356–361, 527 n. 4.
  58. ^ Arthur Drew, 1926, The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present
  59. ^ Arvidsson, Stefan. Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science. University of Chicago Press, 2006, pp. 116–117.
  60. ^ Klausner, Joseph. Jesus of Nazareth. Bloch, 1989; first published 1925, pp. 105–106.
  61. ^ In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images by Clinton Bennett (Dec 1, 2001) ISBN 0826449166 Continuum page 205
  62. ^ Deconstructing Jesus by Robert M. Price (2000) ISBN 1573927589 page 207
  63. ^ a b c d e Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 pages 11-12
  64. ^ J.M. Robertson, 1856-1933 by G.A. Wells (1 Jan 1987) ISBN 0301870020 pages 162-163
  65. ^ Christianity And Mythology by John M. Robertson London: Watts 1900 ISBN 0766187683 (reprinted by Kessinger 2004) page 34
  66. ^ A Short History of Christianity by John M. Robertson 1902 London: Watts ISBN 0766189090 (reprinted by Kessinger 2004) page 72
  67. ^ Robertson, J. M. A Short History of Christianity. Watts, 1902, pp. 6–12, 14–15.
  68. ^ A Short History of Christianity by John M. Robertson 1902 London: Watts ISBN 0766189090 (reprinted by Kessinger 2004) page 18
  69. ^ J.M. Robertson, 1856-1933 by G.A. Wells (1 Jan 1987) ISBN 0301870020 page 149
  70. ^ G. R. S. Mead and the Gnostic Quest by Clare Goodrick-Clarke (Aug 10, 2005) ISBN 155643572X pages 1-3
  71. ^ Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.? by G. R. S. Mead (1903) ISBN 1596053763 (Cosimo Classics 2005) pages 10-12
  72. ^ Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? by Tom Harpur (2006) ISBN 0802777414 p 163
  73. ^ Price, Robert. "Jesus as the Vanishing Point" in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, pp. 80–81.
  74. ^ The Christ by John Remsburg 1909, Chapter 1: "Christ's Real Existence Impossible"
  75. ^ The Christ Myth by John Remsburg 1909, Chapter 2: "Silence of Contemporary Writers"
  76. ^ Paulkovich, Michael (2014). "The Fable of the Christ". Free Inquiry 34 (5): 56. 
  77. ^ Paulkovich, Michael (2012), No Meek Messiah, Spillix Publishing, pp. 330–355,  
  78. ^ Drews' book was reviewed by A. Kampmeier in The Monist, volume 21, Number 3 (July 1911), pages 412–432. [2]
  79. ^ Weaver, Walter P. The historical Jesus in the twentieth century, 1900–1950. Continuum International Publishing Group, 1999, pp. 50 and 300.
    • Also see Wood, Herbert George. Christianity and the Nature of History. Cambridge University Press, 1934, p. xxxii.
    • Drews, Arthur. Die Christusmythe. Eugen Diederichs, 1910, published in English as The Christ Myth, Prometheus, 1910, p. 410.
  80. ^ Berdyaev, Nikolai, "The Scientific Discipline of Religion and Christian Apologetics", Put' / Путь vol. 6, 1927
  81. ^ Gerrish, Brian A. Jesus, Myth, and History: Troeltsch's Stand in the 'Christ-Myth' Debate", The Journal of Religion, volume 55, issue 1, 1975, pp 3–4.
  82. ^ "Jesus never lived, asserts Prof. Drews", The New York Times, February 6, 1910.
  83. ^ Thrower, James. Marxist-Leninist "Scientific Atheism" and the Study of Religion and Atheism. Walter de Gruyter, 1983, p. 426.
    • Also see Haber, Edyth C. "The Mythic Bulgakov: 'The Master and Margarita' and Arthur Drews's 'The Christ Myth'", Slavic & East European Journal, volume 43, issue 2, 1999, p. 347.
  84. ^ Nikiforov, Vladimir. "Russian Christianity" in Leslie Houlden (ed.) Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2003, p. 749.
  85. ^ Peris, Daniel. Storming the Heavens. Cornell University Press, 1998, p. 178.
  86. ^ The historical Jesus in the twentieth century, 1900–1950 by Walter P. Weaver, 1999 ISBN Continuum Publishing Group, 1999, pages 300-303
  87. ^ Russell, Bertrand. "Why I am not a Christian", lecture to the National Secular Society, Battersea Town Hall, March 6, 1927, Retrieved 2010-08-02.
  88. ^ John Allegro, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross 1970 ISBN 978-0-9825562-7-6
  89. ^ John Allegro The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth 1979 ISBN 978-0-879-75757-1
  90. ^ a b The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Peter Flint and James VanderKam (Jul 10, 2005) ISBN 056708468X T&T Clark pages 323-325
  91. ^ The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea by Joan E. Taylor (Dec 14, 2012) ISBN 019955448X Oxford University Press p. 305
  92. ^ Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 77
  93. ^ Hall, Mark. "Foreword," in Allegro, John M. The Dead Sea Scrolls & the Christian Myth. Prometheus 1992, first published 1979, p. ix.
  94. ^ Jenkins, Philip. Hidden Gospels. Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 180.
  95. ^ A History of the Middle East by Saul S. Friedman (Mar 15, 2006) ISBN 0786423560 page 82
  96. ^ Hoffman, Michael., ed. by Dr. Robert Price., "Wasson and Allegro on the Tree of Knowledge as Amanita" in Journal of Higher Criticism, 2006.
  97. ^ The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, 40th anniversary edition by John M. Allegro, Gnostic Media, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9825562-7-6
  98. ^ Stanton, Graham. The Gospels and Jesus. Oxford University Press, 2002; first published 1989, p. 143.
  99. ^ Martin, Michael. The Case Against Christianity. Temple University Press, 1993, p. 38.
  100. ^ Wells, GA (September 1999). "Earliest Christianity". New Humanist 114 (3): 13–18. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  101. ^ Wells, G. A. The Jesus Myth. Open Court, 1999.
  102. ^ Van Voorst, Robert E. "Nonexistence Hypothesis", in James Leslie Holden (ed.) Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2003, p. 660.
  103. ^ Doherty, Earl (1999). by Alvar Ellegard"Jesus — One Hundred Years Before Christ"Book and Article Reviews, The Case of the Jesus Myth: . Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  104. ^ Carrier, Richard (2006). Did Jesus Even Exist? Stanford University presentation. May 30, 2006.
  105. ^ Eddy and Boyd (2007), The Jesus Legend, p. 24.
  106. ^ For a statement of his position, Wells refers readers to his article, "Jesus, Historicity of" in Tom Flynn's The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (2007). See Wells, G. A. Cutting Jesus Down to Size. Open Court, 2009, pp. 327–328.
  107. ^ Wells, G.A. in Tom Flynn. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Prometheus Books, 2007, p. 446ff.
  108. ^ Wells, G. A. "A Reply to J. P. Holding's 'Shattering' of My Views on Jesus and an Examination of the Early Pagan and Jewish References to Jesus". The Secular Web. 2000. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
  109. ^ Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Ph.D. A Biographical Sketch of his life and work, by Richard Alvin Sattelberg, B.A., M.S.., 2005
  110. ^ А. В. Андреев (2015). "Дискуссия об историчности Иисуса Христа в советском религиоведении" (PDF). Вестник ПСТГУ (in Russian). Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  111. ^ Гололоб Г. "Богословие и национальный вопрос" (in Russian). Библиотека Гумер. Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  112. ^ "The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light" by Tom Harpur, Thomas Allen Publishers, Toronto, 2004, ISBN 0-88762-145-7
  113. ^ Tom Harpur, The Pagan Christ (Toronto: Thomas Allen Publishers, 2004)
  114. ^ Price's review of 'The Pagan Vgrist'
  115. ^ Thompson's op-ed about critical scholarship on bible intern.com
  116. ^ Thompson's response to Bart Ehrman on bibleinterp.com
  117. ^ Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 4
  118. ^ Thomas L. Brodie "Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery" Sheffield Phoenix Press (September 6, 2012) ISBN 978-1907534584
  119. ^ a b The Crucial Bridge: The Elijah–Elisha Narrative As an Interpretive Synthesis of Genesis-Kings by Thomas L. Brodie Sheffield Phoenix Press (Jan 1, 2000) ISBN 081465942X pages 1-3
  120. ^ . "Priest was not ‘forced to quit’ teaching job over controversial book on Christ"The Limerick Reader by Mike Dwayne, January 25, 2013
  121. ^ Dominican Biblical Institute website accessed March 15, 2014
  122. ^ http://www.sheffieldphoenix.com/showbook.asp?bkid=264
  123. ^ Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12,
  124. ^ Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, by Earl Doherty, pp. vii-viii),
  125. ^ Doherty, Earl. "The Jesus Puzzle", Journal of Higher Criticism, volume 4, issue 2, 1997.
  126. ^ a b Price, Robert M. The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man. Prometheus, 2003, p. 351.
    • Also see Jacoby, Douglas A. Compelling Evidence For God and the Bible: Finding Truth in an Age of Doubt. Harvest House Publishers, 2010, p. 97.
    • Price writes: "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."
  127. ^ Van Biema, David; Ostling, Richard N.; and Towle, Lisa H. "The Gospel Truth?". Time magazine. April 8, 1996.
  128. ^ Price, Robert M. "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, p. 55ff.
    • Also see Price, Robert M. Book review of "Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection". 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
  129. ^ Price, Robert M. "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009. See p. 55 for his argument that it is quite likely Jesus did not exist. See pp. 62–64, 75 for the three pillars.
  130. ^ Irenaeus (c. 180 CE). (74)Demonstration.
  131. ^ See Robert M. Price. "Jesus at the Vanishing Point", in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, pp. 80–81.
  132. ^ Price, Robert M. (2000). Deconstructing Jesus, pp. 15–16.
  133. ^ Price, Robert. Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus Books. p. 250.  
  134. ^ Price, Robert. Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus Books. p. 261.  
  135. ^ Price, Robert M. (2000). Deconstructing Jesus, p. 86.
  136. ^ Price, Robert M. "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, p. 61ff.
  137. ^ Ehrman 2012, p. 2.
  138. ^ "Did Jesus Exist?". Huffington Post. 
  139. ^ Casey, Maurice, Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian's Account of His Life and Teaching (T&T Clark, 2010), pp.33, 104 & 499.
  140. ^ Michael Grant (1977), Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels. Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 200.
  141. ^ Dunkerley, Roderic, Beyond the Gospels (Penguin Books, 1957) p. 12.
  142. ^ Betz, Otto, What Do We Know About Jesus? (SCM-Canterbury Press, 1968) p. 9.
  143. ^ "Jesus Christ the Man: Does the Physical Evidence Hold Up?". Retrieved 2015-07-24. 
  144. ^ Hoffmann, R. Joseph. "Threnody: Rethinking the Thinking behind The Jesus Project", bibleinterp.com, October 2009, accessed August 6, 2010.

References

See also

Since 2005, several English-language documentaries have focused, at least in part, on the Christ myth theory:

Documentaries

The following books support aspects of the Christ myth theory:

Books

R. Joseph Hoffmann, who had created the Jesus Project, which included both mythicists and historicists to investigate the historicity of Jesus, wrote that there were problems with the adherents to the Christ myth theory. They were asking to set up a separate section of the project for those committed to the theory, which Hoffmann felt signalled a lack of necessary skepticism. He noted that most members of the project did not reach the mythicist conclusion.[144]

Writing in 1977, classical historian and popular author Michael Grant concluded 'modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory.'[140] In support of this, he quoted Roderic Dunkerley's 1957 opinion that the Christ-myth theory has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars'.[141] At the same time he also quoted Otto Betz's 1968 opinion that 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.'[142] On the other hand, claims of physical evidence in the form of reliquies often fail to stand up to scrutiny.[143]

Maurice Casey, theologian and scholar of New Testament and early Christianity, stated that the belief among professors that Jesus existed is generally completely certain. According to Casey, the view that Jesus did not exist is "the view of extremists" and "demonstrably false", and that "professional scholars generally regard it as having been settled in serious scholarship long ago".[139]

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 on in a bona fide department of biology.[138]

Ehrman also notes that these views would prevent one from getting employment in a religious studies department:

Christ Myth theories find virtually no support from scholars. According to New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman, most people who study the historical period of Jesus believe that he did exist, and do not write in support of the Christ myth theory.[137]

In general, modern scholars who work in the field largely agree that Jesus himself did exist historically, but scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus,[15] and the only two events subject to "almost universal assent" are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate[16][17][18] (although some argue that "the only thing New Testament scholars seem to agree on is Jesus’ historical existence"[17]).

Historicity refers to the question of whether alleged past persons and events are genuinely historical, or merely mythical. The study of whether the Jesus mentioned in the Christian New Testament was a real person is covered in the article Historicity of Jesus.

Criticism

Price points out "(w)hat one Jesus reconstruction leaves aside, the next one takes up and makes its cornerstone. Jesus simply wears too many hats in the Gospels—exorcist, healer, king, prophet, sage, rabbi, demigod, and so on. The Jesus Christ of the New Testament is a composite figure (...) The historical Jesus (if there was one) might well have been a messianic king, or a progressive Pharisee, or a Galilean shaman, or a magus, or a Hellenistic sage. But he cannot very well have been all of them at the same time."[132] In a discussion on euhemerism, Price cautiously asserts that "a genuine historical figure" may ultimately lie at the root of the Christian religion.[133] That figure (about whom he detects no surviving mundane, secular information) would have eventually been made into God through apotheosis. But Price admits uncertainty in this regard. He writes at the conclusion of his 2000 book Deconstructing Jesus: "There may have been a real figure there, but there is simply no longer any way of being sure."[134] Price also states "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 have been based on a historical Jesus the Nazorean."[135] Price acknowledges that he stands against the majority view of scholars, but cautions against attempting to settle the issue by appeal to the majority.[136]

Price argues that if critical methodology is applied with ruthless consistency, one is left in complete agnosticism regarding Jesus's historicity: "There might have been a historical Jesus, but unless someone discovers his diary or his skeleton, we'll never know."[126] Price argues that "the varying dates are the residue of various attempts to anchor an originally mythic or legendary Jesus in more or less recent history" citing accounts that have Jesus being crucified under Alexander Jannaeus (83 BCE) or in his 50s by Herod Agrippa I under the rule of Claudius Caesar (41–54 CE).[130][131]

  • There is no mention of a miracle-working Jesus in secular sources.
  • The epistles, written earlier than the gospels, provide no evidence of a recent historical Jesus; all that can be taken from the epistles, Price argues, is that a Jesus Christ, son of God, lived in a heavenly realm (much as other ancient gods, e.g. Horus), there died as a sacrifice for human sin, was raised by God and enthroned in heaven.
  • The Jesus narrative is paralleled in Middle Eastern myths about dying and rising gods; Price names Baal, Osiris, Attis, Adonis, and Dumuzi/Tammuz as examples, all of which, he writes, survived into the Hellenistic and Roman periods and thereby influenced early Christianity. Price alleges that Christian apologists have tried to minimize these parallels.[129]

Price questioned the historicity of Jesus in a series of books, including Deconstructing Jesus (2000), The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man (2003), Jesus Is Dead (2007), and The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems (2012), as well as in contributions to The Historical Jesus: Five Views (2009). He writes that everyone who espouses the Christ myth theory bases their arguments on three key points:

American New Testament scholar and former Baptist pastor Robert McNair Price was a fellow of the Jesus Seminar, a group of writers and scholars who study the historicity of Jesus and who argue that the Christian image of Christ is a theological construct into which traces of Jesus of Nazareth have been woven.[127] He was also a member of the Jesus Project. Price believes that Christianity is a historicized synthesis of mainly Egyptian, Jewish, and Greek mythologies.[128]

Robert Price at a microphone
American New Testament scholar Robert M. Price argues that Jesus' existence will be never confirmed, unless someone discovers his diary or skeleton.[126]

According to Doherty, none of the major Christian apologists before 180 AD, except for Justin and Aristides of Athens, included an account of a historical Jesus in their defenses of Christianity. Instead Doherty suggests that the early Christian writers describe a Christian movement grounded in Platonic philosophy and Hellenistic Judaism, reaching the worship of a monotheistic Jewish god and what he calls a "logos-type Son". Doherty further argues that Theophilus of Antioch (c. 163–182), Athenagoras of Athens (c. 133–190), Tatian the Assyrian (c. 120–180), and Marcus Minucius Felix (writing around 150–270) offer no indication that they believed in a historical figure crucified and resurrected, and that the name Jesus does not appear in any of them.[125]

Canadian writer Earl Doherty wrote in 2009 that the Christ myth theory 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."[123][124] Doherty argues in The Jesus Puzzle (2005) and Jesus: Neither God nor Man—The Case for a Mythical Jesus (2009) that Jesus originated as a myth derived from Middle Platonism with some influence from Jewish mysticism, and that belief in a historical Jesus emerged only among Christian communities in the 2nd century.

Richard Carrier, New Atheism activist and proponent of the Jesus myth theory wrote a scathing review of Bart D. Ehrman's book Did Jesus Exist in 2012 resulted in lengthy responses and counter-responses on the Internet. Carrier holds the view that it is more likely that the earliest Christians considered Jesus to be a celestial being known only through revelations rather than a real person.[122] In 2014 Carrier released a book, On the Historicity of Jesus, where he gave a probabilistic estimate that Jesus was a historical figure: "With the evidence we have, the probability Jesus existed is somewhere between 1 in 12,500 and 1 in 3".

American author Richard Carrier.

In early 2013, it was reported that the Dominican order had forced Brodie to resign his teaching job and banned him from writing and lecturing while under investigation for disputed teaching. The Dominican order disputed the story and stated that Brodie had already performed three terms as director at the institute and was not intending to serve a fourth, but that the book would be reviewed by a committee of scholars within the Irish Dominicans.[120] The institute's website indicates the investigation is ongoing.[121]

In 2012, the Irish Dominican priest and theologian Thomas L. Brodie, holding a PhD from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and a co-founder and former director of the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick, published Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery. In this book, Brodie, who previously had published academic works on the Hebrew prophets, argued that the gospels are essentially a rewriting of the stories of Elijah and Elisha when viewed as a unified account in the Books of Kings. This view lead Brodie to the conclusion that Jesus is mythical.[118] Brodie's argument builds on his previous work, in which he stated that rather than being separate and fragmented, the stories of Elijah and Elisha are united and that 1 Kings 16:29–2 Kings 13:25 is a natural extension of 1 Kings 17–2 Kings 8 which have a coherence not generally observed by other biblical scholars.[119] Brodie then views the Elijah–Elisha story as the underlying model for the gospel narratives.[119]

During the 21st century, the Christ myth theory has become more widespread because of the Internet, but also met with greater criticism. Professor Bart D. Ehrman, rejecting CMT, states that "The view that Jesus existed is held by virtually every expert on the planet"[117] but Ehrman also recognizes that there are "a couple of bona fide scholars" who support the Christ myth theory.

Other authors who have tried to make a connection between Christ and pagan gods include Alexander Jacob and Thomas L. Thompson. Jacob has written on Cambridge Platonism in works such as Henry More's Refutation of Spinoza (1991), Ātman: A Reconstruction of the Solar Cosmology of the Indo-Europeans (2005), and Nobilitas: A Study of European Aristocratic Philosophy from Ancient Greece to the Early Twentieth Century (2001). Jacob's suggests that the Jesus story was the Judaized, historicized version of a very ancient myth which can be described as archetypal (i.e. its origins ultimately lie rooted in our human collective unconscious). Thompson, Professor emeritus at the University of Copenhagen is the author of a number of books critical of the historicity of the Old Testament. While a student at University of Tübingen in the 1970s, his PhD dissertation on the quest for the historical Abraham was rejected by his examiner Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) since it went against Catholic theology.[115] He was invited to finish his degree at Temple University in Philadelphia where he received his PhD summa cum laude. In his book The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David, Thompson argues that the biblical accounts of both King David and Jesus of Nazareth are mythical in nature and based on Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek and Roman literature. For example, he argues that the resurrection of Jesus is taken directly from the story of the dying and rising god, Dionysus. Thompson, however, does not draw a final conclusion if Jesus was real or not, and in a 2012 online article,[116] he forcefully rejects Bart Ehrman's mischaracterization of his views and the label "mythicist". He was a fellow of the short-lived Jesus Project from 2008 to 2009.

The book received a great deal of criticism, including a response book, Unmasking the Pagan Christ: An Evangelical Response to the Cosmic Christ Idea. Fellow mythicist Robert M. Price gave the book a negative review.[114] Harpur published a more scholarly sequel called Water Into Wine in 2007

[113] Presenting the case that the gospels re-work ancient pagan myths, Harpur builds on

Canadian author Tom Harpur (photo by Hugh Wesley)

Author Tom Harpur dedicated his 2004 book The Pagan Christ to Kuhn, calling him "a man of immense learning and even greater courage" and “one of the single greatest geniuses of the twentieth century.” Harpur suggests Kuhn has not received the attention he deserves since many of his works were self-published.[112]

21st century

The Christ myth theory also enjoyed brief popularity in the Soviet Union, where it was supported by Sergey Kovalev, Alexander Kazhdan, Abram Ranovich, Nikolai Rumyantsev, Robert Vipper and Yuri Frantsev.[110] Later, however, several scholars, including Kazhdan, retracted their views about mythical Jesus and by the end of the 1980s Iosif Kryvelev remained as virtually the only proponent of Christ myth theory in Soviet academia.[111]

Another proponent of the Christ myth theory, American scholar Alvin Boyd Kuhn founded his own publishing house, wrote more than 150 books and essays on religious history, and reportedly gave nearly 2,000 public lectures in the U.S. and Canada.[109] Influenced by Massey and Higgins, Kuhn argued an Egyptian etymology to the Bible, that the gospels were symbolic rather historic, and that church leaders started to misinterpret the New Testament in the third century. He wrote his best-known work, A Rebirth for Christianity, shortly before his death in 1963.

portrait
American author Dr. Alvin Boyd Kuhn.

Wells writes that he belongs in the category of those who argue that Jesus did exist, but that reports about him are so unreliable that we can know little or nothing about him.[106] He argues, for example, that the story of the execution of Jesus under Pilate is not an historical account.[107] He wrote in 2000: "[J. D. G. Dunn] objected [in 1985] that, in my work as then published, I had, implausibly, to assume that, within 30 years from Paul, there had evolved 'such a ... complex of traditions about a non-existent figure as we have in the sources of the gospels' (The Evidence for Jesus, p. 29). My present standpoint is: this complex is not all post-Pauline (Q in its earliest form may well be as early as ca. AD. 40), and it is not all mythical. The essential point, as I see it, is that what is authentic in this material refers to a personage who is not to be identified with the dying and rising Christ of the early epistles."[108]

In The Jesus Myth, Wells argues that two Jesus narratives fused into one: Paul's mythical Jesus and a minimally historical Jesus whose teachings were preserved in the Q document, a hypothetical common source for the gospels of Matthew and Luke.[101] Biblical scholar Robert Van Voorst said that with this argument Wells had performed an about-face[102] while Doherty presented it as another example of the view that the Gospel Jesus did not exist;[103] Carrier classified it (along with Wells' later Can We Trust the New Testament?) as a book defending ahistoricity in his May 30, 2006 Stanford University presentation,[104] and Eddy-Boyd presented it as an example of a Christ myth theory book.[105]

Wells presented his key arguments in his initial trilogy (1971, 1975, 1982), based on the views of New Testament scholars who acknowledge that the gospels are sources written decades after Jesus's death by people who had no personal knowledge of him. In addition, Wells writes, the texts are exclusively Christian and theologically motivated, and therefore a rational person should believe the gospels only if they are independently confirmed. Wells also argues that Paul and the other epistle writers—the earliest Christian writers—do not provide any support for the idea that Jesus lived early in the 1st century. There is no information in them about Jesus's parents, place of birth, teachings, trial, nor crucifixion.[99] For Wells, the Jesus of the early Christians was a pure myth, derived from mystical speculations stemming from the Jewish Wisdom tradition, while the Gospels were subsequent works of historical fiction. According to this view, the earliest strata of the New Testament literature presented Jesus as "a basically supernatural personage only obscurely on Earth as a man at some unspecified period in the past".[100]

English professor of German Graham Stanton, Wells presented the most thoroughgoing and sophisticated arguments for the Christ myth theory in his books The Jesus of the Early Christians (1971), Did Jesus Exist? (1975), The Historical Evidence for Jesus (1982), The Jesus Legend (1996), The Jesus Myth (1999), Can We Trust the New Testament? (2004), and Cutting Jesus Down to Size (2009).[98] British theologian Kenneth Grayston advised Christians to acknowledge the difficulties raised by Wells.

Allegro's theory of a shamanistic cult as the origin of Christianity was criticised sharply by Welsh historian Philip Jenkins who wrote that Allegro was an eccentric scholar who relied on texts that did not exist in quite the form he was citing them. Jenkins called the Sacred Mushroom and the Cross "possibly the single most ludicrous book on Jesus scholarship by a qualified academic".[94] Based on the reactions to the book, Allegro's publisher later apologized for issuing the book and Allegro was forced to resign his academic post.[90][95] A 2006 article discussing Allegro's work called for his theories to be re-evaluated by the mainstream.[96] In November 2009 The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross was reprinted in a 40th anniversary edition with a 30-page addendum by Carl Ruck of Boston University.[97]

The British archaeologist and philologist John M. Allegro later argued in 1970 that Christianity began as a shamanistic cult. In his books The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (1970) and The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (1979), Allegro put forward the theory that stories of early Christianity originated in an Essene clandestine cult centred around the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms, and that the New Testament is the coded record of this shamanistic cult.[88][89] Allegro further argued that the authors of the Christian gospels did not understand the Essene thought. When writing down the Gospels based on the stories they had heard, the evangelists confused the meaning of the scrolls. In this way, according to Allegro, the Christian tradition is based on a misunderstanding of the scrolls.[90][91] He also argued that the story of Jesus was based on the crucifixion of the Teacher of Righteousness in the scrolls.[92] Mark Hall writes that Allegro suggested the Dead Sea Scrolls all but proved that a historical Jesus never existed.[93]

In 1927, British philosopher Bertrand Russell stated in his lecture Why I Am Not a Christian that "historically it is quite doubtful that Jesus existed, and if he did we do not know anything about him, so that I am not concerned with the historical question, which is a very difficult one", though Russell did nothing to further develop the idea.[87]

(1933). Jesus (1926), then with his book entitled Review of History of Religions criticized Couchoud's theory and defended the historicity of Jesus, first in an article in the Sorbonne University Charles Guignebert, an atheist professor of history at [86].John the Baptist and that Christianity was a schismatic branch of the followers of Apostle Paul who argued that Jesus never existed but was invented by the Paul-Louis Couchoud Drews also influenced French philosopher [85] Drew's work found fertile soil in the Soviet Union, where

Also in 1909, German philosophy professor Christian Heinrich Arthur Drews wrote The Christ Myth to argue that Christianity had been a Jewish Gnostic cult that spread by appropriating aspects of Greek philosophy and life-death-rebirth deities.[78] In later books (The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus (1912) and The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present (1926)) Drews reviewed the biblical scholarship of his time as well as the work of other myth theorists, attempting to show that everything about the historical Jesus had a mythical character.[79] Drews met with criticism from Nikolai Berdyaev who claimed that Drews was an anti-Semite who argued against the historical existence of Jesus for the sake of Aryanism.[80] Drews took part in a series of public debates with theologians and historians who opposed his arguments.[81][82]

In 1909, school teacher John Eleazer Remsburg published The Christ (Retitled The Christ Myth in a 2007 NuVision Publications reprint) which made a distinction between a possible historical Jesus ("Jesus of Nazareth") and the Jesus of the Gospels ("Jesus of Bethlehem"). Remsburg's thought that there was good reason to believe that the historical Jesus existed, but that the "Christ of Christianity" was a mythological creation.[74] Remsburg compiled a list of 42 names of "writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time" who Remsburg felt should have written about Jesus if the Gospels account was reasonably accurate but who did not.[75] The Remsburg List was improved upon in an article in Free Inquiry magazine in August 2014, citing 126 writers shortly after Jesus whom the author thought should have written about Jesus, but did not.[76] The supporting evidence was presented in the appendix to the author's book.[77]

[73] cites Mead as one of several examples of alternative traditions that place Jesus in a different time period than the Gospel accounts.Robert M. Price [72] has compared Mead's impact on myth theory to that of Bruno Bauer and Arthur Drews.Tom Harpur [71], which he meant pointed to Jesus being crucified c. 100 BCE. In Mead's view, this would mean that the Christian gospels are mythical.Talmud Mead based his argument the [70] The English school master

In 1900, Scottish MP John Mackinnon Robertson argued that Jesus never existed but was an invention by a first-century messianic cult.[63][64] In Robertson's view, religious groups invent new gods to fit the needs of the society of the time.[63] Robertson argued that a solar deity symbolized by the lamb and the ram had been worshiped by an Israelite cult of Joshua for long and that this cult had then invented a new messianic figure, Jesus of Nazareth.[63][65][66] Robertson argued that a possible source for the Christian myth may have been the Talmudic story of the executed Jesus Pandera which dates to 100 BCE.[63][67] Robertson considered the letters of Paul the earliest surviving Christian writings, but viewed them as primarily concerned with theology and morality, rather than historical details. He viewed references to the twelve apostles and the institution of the Eucharist as stories that must have developed later among gentile believers who were converted by Jewish evangelists like Paul.[63][68][69]

[62] Frazer expressly stated that his theory assumed a historical Jesus.The Golden Bough which attempted to define the shared elements of religious belief. This work became the basis of many later authors who argued that the story of Jesus was a fiction created by Christians. After a number of people claimed that he was a myth theorist, in the 1913 expanded edition of The Golden Bough In 1890 he published the first edition of [61] The work of social anthropologist

During the early 20th century, several writers published arguments against Jesus' historicity, often drawing on the work of liberal theologians, who tended to deny any value to sources for Jesus outside the New Testament, and limited their attention to Mark and the hypothetical Q source.[57] They also made use of the growing field of religious history which found sources for Christian ideas in Greek and Oriental mystery cults, rather than Palestinian Judaism.[59] Joseph Klausner wrote that biblical scholars "tried their hardest to find in the historic Jesus something which is not Judaism; but in his actual history they have found nothing of this whatever, since this history is reduced almost to zero. It is therefore no wonder that at the beginning of this century there has been a revival of the eighteenth and nineteenth century view that Jesus never existed."[60]

20th century

In addition to the authors listed on this page, early Christ myth proponents included Swiss skeptic Rudolf Steck.,[58] English historian Edwin Johnson, English radical Rev. Robert Taylor and his associate Richard Carlile.

In the 1870s and 1880s, a group of scholars associated with the University of Amsterdam, known in German scholarship as the Radical Dutch school, rejected the authenticity of the Pauline epistles, and took a generally negative view of the Bible's historical value.[56] Within this group, the existence of Jesus was rejected by Allard Pierson, the leader of the movement, Sytze Hoekstra, and Samuel Adrian Naber. Abraham Dirk Loman argued in 1881 that all New Testament writings belonged to the 2nd century, and doubted that Jesus was an historical figure, but later said the core of the gospels was genuine.[57] The group wrote in Dutch and focused mostly on the Old Testament.[56] They had some notable followers, but by the early part of the 20th century they had faded out.[56]

Radical Dutch school

Starting in the 1870s, English poet and author Gerald Massey became interested in Egyptology and reportedly taught himself Egyptian hieroglyphics at the British Museum.[54] In 1883, he published The Natural Genesis where he asserted parallels between Jesus and the Egyptian god Horus. His other major work, Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World, was published shortly before his death in 1907. His assertions have influenced various later writers such as Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Tom Harpur and D.M. Murdock. Harpur argues that Massey has been largely ignored by scholars,[52] and despite criticisms from Stanley Porter and Ward Gasque, Massey's theories regarding Egyptian etymologies for certain scriptures are supported by noted contemporary Egyptologists.[55]

Massey

American Kersey Graves was a school teacher and author who wrote the 1875 book The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors. Using Higgins as his main source, Graves claims that Jesus did not exist, and instead was based on demigods from different countries who were either crucified or who ascended into heaven. He also claimed that many of these figures shared similar stories, traits or quotes as Jesus. The validity of the claims in the book have been greatly criticized by Christ myth proponents like Richard Carrier and largely dismissed by biblical scholars.[53]

Graves

English gentleman Godfrey Higgins studied Greek, Latin and law at Cambridge before becoming a soldier, archaeologist and author. His two-volume, 867-page book Anacalypsis: An Enquiry into the Origins of Languages, Nations, and Religions, was published posthumously in 1836. In his treatise, Higgins claims, "the mythos of the Hindus, the mythos of the Jews and the mythos of the Greeks are all at bottom the same; and ... are contrivances under the appearance of histories to perpetuate doctrines,"[50] and that Christian editors “either from roguery or folly, corrupted them all.”[51] It should be noted, however, the book also includes unorthodox theories such as that the Celtic Druids came from India.[52]

Higgins

Bauer initially left open the question of whether an historical Jesus existed at all.[47] Later, in A Critique of the Gospels and a History of their Origin (1850–1851), Bauer argued that Jesus had not existed, and in 1877 in Christ and the Caesars he suggested that Christianity was a synthesis of the Stoicism of Seneca the Younger and of the Jewish theology of Philo as developed by pro-Roman Jews such as Josephus.[48] Bauer's work was heavily criticized at the time; in 1839 he was removed from his position at the University of Bonn, and his work did not have much impact on future myth theorists.[34][49]

  1. The [36]
  2. There are no surviving historic records about Jesus of Nazareth from any non-Jewish author until the second century,[37] and Jesus left no writings or other archaeological evidence.[38]
  3. Certain gospel stories are similar to those of dying-and-rising gods, demigods (sons of gods), solar deities, saviors or other divine men such as Horus,[39] Mithra/Mithras,[40] Prometheus,[41] Dionysus,[42] Osiris,[43] Buddha,[44] and Krishna,[45] as well as Christ-like historical figures like Apollonius of Tyana.[46]

German Bruno Bauer, who taught at the University of Bonn, took Strauss' arguments further and became the first author to systematically argue that Jesus did not exist.[34][35] Bauer's writings presented the first use of the threefold argument used in much of myth theory in later years (but often rediscovered independently). Bauer's three-fold arguments are that:

Bauer

The book caused an uproar across Europe. Marian Evans "the most pestilential book ever vomited out of the jaws of hell,"[32] and Strauss' appointment as chair of theology at the University of Zürich caused such controversy that the authorities offered him a pension before he had a chance to start his duties.[33]

In 1835, German theologian David Friedrich Strauss published his extremely controversial The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined (Das Leben Jesu). While not denying that Jesus existed, he did argue that the miracles in the New Testament were mythical retellings of normal events as supernatural happenings.[29][30][31] According to Strauss, the early church developed these miracle stories to present Jesus as a fulfillment of Jewish prophecies of what the Messiah would be like. This rationalist perspective was in direct opposition to the supernaturalist view that the bible was accurate both historically and spiritually.

Strauss

Volney's perspective was not purely religious, but had a sociopolitical component that in the short term acted against it, in that the association with the ideas of the French Revolution and Volney's influence on Napoleon hindered the acceptance of these views in England.[28] Despite its short term setbacks, the work of Volney gathered significant following among British and American radical thinkers during the 19th century.[28]

[27][25]

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