The Christ Myth - A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence

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Myth proponents argue that the Testimonium Flavianum may have been a partial interpolation or forgery by Christian apologist Eusebius in the 4th century or by others. Roman historian Tacitus referred to "Christus" and his execution by Pontius Pilate in his Annals written c. AD , book 15, chapter 44 [] [note 10] The very negative tone of Tacitus' comments on Christians make most experts believe that the passage is extremely unlikely to have been forged by a Christian scribe.

Christ myth theory supporters such as G. Wells and Carrier contend that sources such as Tacitus and others, which were written decades after the supposed events, include no independent traditions that relate to Jesus, and hence can provide no confirmation of historical facts about him. In Jesus Outside the New Testament , mainstream scholar Van Voorst considers references to Jesus in classical writings, Jewish writings, hypothetical sources of the canonical Gospels, and extant Christian writings outside the New Testament.

Van Voorst concludes that non-Christian sources provide "a small but certain corroboration of certain New Testament historical traditions on the family background, time of life, ministry, and death of Jesus", as well as "evidence of the content of Christian preaching that is independent of the New Testament", while extra-biblical Christian sources give access to "some important information about the earliest traditions on Jesus".

However, New Testament sources remain central for "both the main lines and the details about Jesus' life and teaching". Most historians agree that Jesus or his followers established a new Jewish sect , one that attracted both Jewish and gentile converts. Out of this Jewish sect developed Early Christianity, which was very diverse, with proto-orthodoxy and " heretical " views like gnosticism alongside each other, [] [14] According to New Testament scholar Bart D.

Ehrman , a number of early Christianities existed in the first century CE, from which developed various Christian traditions and denominations, including proto-orthodoxy. Dunn , four types of early Christianity can be discerned: Jewish Christianity, Hellenistic Christianity , Apocalyptic Christianity , and early Catholicism. This new religion was in need of a founder and created its Christ. Doherty notes that, with the conquests of Alexander the Great , the Greek culture and language spread throughout the eastern Mediterranean world, influencing the already existing cultures there.

Robert Price notes that Christianity started among Hellenized Jews, who mixed allegorical interpretations of Jewish traditions with Jewish Gnostic, Zoroastrian, and mystery cult elements. According to Doherty, the rapid growth of early Christian communities and the great variety of ideas cannot be explained by a single missionary effort, but points to parallel developments, which arose at various places and competed for support. Paul's arguments against rival apostles also point to this diversity. According to mainstream scholarship, Jesus was an eschatological preacher or teacher, who was exaltated after his death.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, [note 11] and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, [note 12] and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.

Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

Christ myth theory

Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. New Testament scholar James Dunn states that in 1 Corinthians Paul "recites the foundational belief", namely "that Christ died". According to Dunn, "Paul was told about a Jesus who had died two years earlier or so. According to Hurtado, Jesus' death was interpreted as a redemptive death "for our sins," in accordance with God's plan as contained in the Jewish scriptures. The appearances of Jesus are often explained as visionary experiences , in which the presence of Jesus was felt.

The Pauline creeds contain elements of a Christ myth and its cultus, [] such as the Christ hymn of Philippians 2 :6—11, [note 15] which portrays Jesus as an incarnated and subsequently exalted heavenly being. Recent scholarship places the exaltation and devotion of Christ firmly in a Jewish context. Andrew Chester argues that "for Paul, Jesus is clearly a figure of the heavenly world, and thus fits a messianic category already developed within Judaism, where the Messiah is a human or angelic figure belonging Christ myth theorists generally reject the idea that Paul's epistles refer to a real person.

According to Carrier, the genuine Pauline epistles show that the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul believed in a visionary or dream Jesus, based on a pesher of Septuagint verses Zechariah 6 and 3 , Daniel 9 and Isaiah 52 — Raphael Lataster, following Carrier, also argues that "Jesus began as a celestial messiah that certain Second Temple Jews already believed in, and was later allegorised in the Gospels. Ehrman notes that Doherty, like many other mythicists, "quotes professional scholars at length when their views prove useful for developing aspects of his argument, but he fails to point out that not a single of these scholars agrees with his overarching thesis.

James McGrath criticizes Carrier, stating that Carrier is ignoring the details, and that "Philo is offering an allusive reference to, and allegorical treatment of, a text in Zechariah which mentioned a historical high priest named Joshua. According to Hurtado, for Paul and his contemporaries Jesus was a human being, who was exaltated as Messiah and Lord after his crucifixion. Ehrman notes that "there were no Jews prior to Christianity who thought that Isaiah 53 or any of the other "suffering" passages referred to the futiure messiah.

Simon Gathercole at Cambridge also evaluated the mythicist arguments for the claim that Paul believed in a heavenly, celestial Jesus who was never on Earth. Gathercole concludes that Carrier's arguments, and more broadly, the mythicist positions on different aspects of Paul's letters are contradicted by the historical data, and that Paul says a number of things regarding Jesus' life on Earth, his personality, family, etc.

Jesus has to be understood in the Palestinian and Jewish context of the first century CE. According to Hurtado, Roman-era Judaism refused "to worship any deities other than the God of Israel," including "any of the adjutants of the biblical God, such as angels, messiahs, etc. According to Wells, Doherty, and Carrier, the mythical Jesus was derived from Wisdom traditions, the personification of an eternal aspect of God, who came to visit human beings. According to Price, this implies 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".

Mainstream scholarship disagrees with these interpretations, and regards them as outdated applications of ideas and methodologies from the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule. According to Philip Davies, the Jesus of the New Testament is indeed "composed of stock motifs and mythic types drawn from all over the Mediterranean and Near Eastern world". Yet, this does not mean that Jesus was "invented"; according to Davies, "the existence of a guru of some kind is more plausible and economical than any other explanation".

According to Ehrman, critical-historical research has clearly shown the Jewish roots and influences of Christianity. Theologian Gregory A. Boyd and Paul Rhodes Eddy, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Bethel University , [] criticise the idea that "Paul viewed Jesus as a cosmic savior who lived in the past", referring to various passages in the Pauline epistles which seem to contradict this idea.

In Galatians , Paul says he met with James , the "Lord's brother"; 1 Corinthians —8 refers to people to whom Jesus' had appeared, and who were Paul's contemporaries; and in 1 Thessalonians —16 Paul refers to the Jews "who both killed the Lord Jesus" and "drove out us" as the same people, indicating that the death of Jesus was within the same time frame as the persecution of Paul. According to Van Voorst, "The argument that Jesus never existed, but was invented by the Christian movement around the year , goes back to Enlightenment times, when the historical-critical study of the past was born", and may have originated with Lord Bolingbroke , an English deist.

While not denying that Jesus existed, he did argue that the miracles in the New Testament were mythical additions with little basis in actual fact. This perspective was in opposition to the prevailing views of Strauss' time: rationalism , which explained the miracles as misinterpretations of non-supernatural events, and the supernaturalist view that the biblical accounts were entirely accurate. Strauss's third way, in which the miracles are explained as myths developed by early Christians to support their evolving conception of Jesus, heralded a new epoch in the textual and historical treatment of the rise of Christianity.

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. In his two-volume, page book Anacalypsis , English gentleman Godfrey Higgins said that "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" [] and that Christian editors "either from roguery or folly, corrupted them all".

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. Starting in the s, English poet and author Gerald Massey became interested in Egyptology and reportedly taught himself Egyptian hieroglyphics at the British Museum. His other major work, Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World, was published shortly before his death in In the s and s, 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.

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. The work of social anthropologist Sir James George Frazer has had an influence on various myth theorists, although Frazer himself believed that Jesus existed. 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 expanded edition of The Golden Bough he expressly stated that his theory assumed a historical Jesus. In , Scottish Member of Parliament John Mackinnon Robertson argued that Jesus never existed, but was an invention by a first-century messianic cult of Joshua , whom he identifies as a solar deity. In Mead's view, this would mean that the Christian gospels are mythical. Remsburg thought that there was good reason to believe that the historical Jesus existed, but that the "Christ of Christianity" was a mythological creation.

Also in , 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. Beginning in the s, in the aftermath of the second quest for the historical Jesus, interest in the Christ myth theory was revived by George Albert Wells, whose ideas were elaborated by Earl Doherty.

With the rise of the internet in the s, their ideas gained popular interest, giving way to a multitude of publications and websites aimed at a popular audience, most notably Richard Carrier, often taking a polemical stance toward Christianity. Their ideas are supported by Robert Price, an academic theologian, while somewhat different stances on the mythological origins are offered by Thomas L. Thompson and Thomas L. Brodie, both also accomplished scholars in theology. The French philosopher Paul-Louis Couchoud , [] published in the s and s, was a predecessor for contemporary mythicists.

According to Couchoud, Christianity started not with a biography of Jesus but "a collective mystical experience, sustaining a divine history mystically revealed". Robert Price mentions Couchoud's comment on the Christ Hymn, one of the relics of the Christ cults to which Paul converted. Couchoud noted that in this hymn the name Jesus was given to the Christ after his torturous death, implying that there cannot have been a ministry by a teacher called Jesus.

George Albert Wells — , a professor of German, revived the interest in the Christ myth theory. In his early work, [] including Did Jesus Exist? In Van Voorst gave an overview of proponents of the "Nonexistence Hypothesis" and their arguments, presenting eight arguments against this hypothesis as put forward by Wells and his predecessors. His works were not discussed by New Testament scholars, because it was "not considered to be original, and all his main points were thought to have been refuted long time ago, for reasons which were very well known".

Canadian writer Earl Doherty born was introduced to the Christ myth theme by a lecture by Wells in the s. According to Doherty, the nucleus of this historicised Jesus of the Gospels can be found in the Jesus-movement which wrote the Q source. American independent scholar [] Richard Carrier born reviewed Doherty's work on the origination of Jesus [] and eventually concluded that the evidence favored the core of Doherty's thesis.

These allegories then started to be believed as fact during the struggle for control of the Christian churches of the first century. Price uses critical-historical methods, [] but also uses "history-of-religions parallel[s]", [] or the "Principle of Analogy", [] to show similarities between Gospel narratives and non-Christian Middle Eastern myths. In Deconstructing Jesus , Price claims that "the Jesus Christ of the New Testament is a composite figure", out of which a broad variety of historical Jesuses can be reconstructed, any one of which may have been the real Jesus, but not all of them together.

Thomas L. Thompson born , Professor emeritus of theology at the University of Copenhagen , is a leading biblical minimalist of the Old Testament, and supports a mythicist position, according to Ehrman [q 13] and Casey. Thompson coedited the contributions from a diverse range of scholars in the book Is This Not the Carpenter? Neither establishing the historicity of a historical Jesus nor possessing an adequate warrant for dismissing it, our purpose is to clarify our engagement with critical historical and exegetical methods. Ehrman has criticised Thompson, questioning his qualifications and expertise regarding New Testament research.

In , the Irish Dominican priest and theologian Thomas L. 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. In response to Brodie's publication of his view that Jesus was mythical, the Dominican order banned him from writing and lecturing, although he was allowed to stay on as a brother of the Irish Province, which continued to care for him. According to Norton, they are "a memoir of a series of significant moments or events" in Brodie's life that reinforced "his core conviction" that neither Jesus nor Paul of Tarsus were historical.

Allegro advanced the theory that stories of early Christianity originated in a shamanistic Essene clandestine cult centered around the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms. A Study in Creative Mythology , argued that Jesus lived years before the accepted dates, and was a teacher of the Essenes. The book has been negatively received by scholars, and also by Christ mythicists. Influenced by Massey and Higgins, Alvin Boyd Kuhn — , an American Theosophist , argued an Egyptian etymology to the Bible that the gospels were symbolic rather than historic and that church leaders started to misinterpret the New Testament in the third century.

According to Harpur, in the second or third centuries the early church created the fictional impression of a literal and historic Jesus and then used forgery and violence to cover up the evidence. Ehrman notes that "the mythicists have become loud, and thanks to the Internet they've attracted more attention". According to Derek Murphy, the documentaries The God Who Wasn't There and Zeitgeist raised interest for the Christ myth theory with a larger audience and gave the topic a large coverage on the Internet.

According to Ehrman, mythicism has a growing appeal "because these deniers of Jesus are at the same time denouncers of religion". In modern scholarship, the Christ myth theory is a fringe theory , which finds virtually no support from scholars, [4] [] [5] [6] [] [q 2] to the point of being irrelevant and almost completely ignored. 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.

According to Casey, the view that Jesus did not exist is "the view of extremists", "demonstrably false" and "professional scholars generally regard it as having been settled in serious scholarship long ago". In , classical historian and popular author Michael Grant in his book Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels , concluded that "modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory". If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned.

Graeme Clarke, Emeritus Professor of Classical Ancient History and Archaeology at Australian National University [] stated in "Frankly, 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". Joseph Hoffmann, who had created the Jesus Project , which included both mythicists and historicists to investigate the historicity of Jesus, wrote that an adherent to the Christ myth theory asked to set up a separate section of the project for those committed to the theory.

Hoffmann felt that to be committed to mythicism signaled a lack of necessary skepticism and he noted that most members of the project did not reach the mythicist conclusion. The authors proposing such opinions might be competent, decent, honest individuals, but the views they present are demonstrably wrong Jesus is better documented and recorded than pretty much any non-elite figure of antiquity. Critics of the Christ myth theory question the competence of its supporters. Few of these mythicists are actually scholars trained in ancient history, religion, biblical studies or any cognate field, let alone in the ancient languages generally thought to matter for those who want to say something with any degree of authority about a Jewish teacher who allegedly lived in first-century Palestine.

Maurice Casey has criticized the mythicists, pointing out their complete ignorance of how modern critical scholarship actually works. He also criticizes mythicists for their frequent assumption that all modern scholars of religion are Protestant fundamentalists of the American variety, insisting that this assumption is not only totally inaccurate, but also exemplary of the mythicists' misconceptions about the ideas and attitudes of mainstream scholars.

Questioning the mainstream view appears to have consequences for one's job perspectives. These views are so extreme and so unconvincing to Few scholars have bothered to criticise Christ myth theories. Robert Van Voorst has written "Contemporary New Testament scholars have typically viewed Christ myth arguments as so weak or bizarre that they relegate them to footnotes, or often ignore them completely [ Maier , former Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University and current professor emeritus in the Department of History there has stated "Anyone who uses the argument that Jesus never existed is simply flaunting his ignorance.

In his book Did Jesus Exist? As for the lack of contemporaneous records for Jesus, Ehrman notes no comparable Jewish figure is mentioned in contemporary records either and there are mentions of Christ in several Roman works of history from only decades after the death of Jesus. Although the gospel accounts of Jesus' life may be biased and unreliable in many respects, Ehrman writes, they and the sources behind them which scholars have discerned still contain some accurate historical information.

If 40 per cent believe in the Jesus myth, this is a sign that the Church has failed to communicate with the general public. Stanley E. Bedard, a Baptist minister and graduate of McMaster Divinity, respond to Harpur's ideas from an evangelical standpoint in Unmasking the Pagan Christ: An Evangelical Response to the Cosmic Christ Idea , challenging the key ideas lying at the foundation of Harpur's thesis.

Porter and Bedard conclude that there is sufficient evidence for the historicity of Jesus and assert that Harpur is motivated to promote "universalistic spirituality". Since , several English-language documentaries have focused—at least in part—on the Christ myth theory:. Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain.

When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper. Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Theory that the Jesus of Paul and later authors never existed. For the body of myths associated with Christianity, see Christian mythology and Jesus in comparative mythology.

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For sources on Jesus, see Sources for the historicity of Jesus and Historical reliability of the Gospels. The Resurrection of Christ by Carl Heinrich Bloch —some mythicists see this as a case of a dying-and-rising deity. Jesus in Christianity. Jesus in Islam. Jesus in history.

Perspectives on Jesus. Jesus in culture. Life in art Depiction Jesuism. Main articles: Origins of Christianity and History of Christianity. See also: Jesus in Christianity , Christology , Christian apologetics , Christian fundamentalism , Biblical hermeneutics , Biblical literalism , Evangelicalism , and Liberal theology. Main articles: Quest for the historical Jesus , Textual criticism , and Historical criticism. See also: Criticism of Historical Jesus research and Memory studies. Main article: The Gospels.

Main articles: Josephus on Jesus and Tacitus on Christ. See also: Origins of Christianity and Gnosticism. See also: Resurrection of Jesus. See also: Celestial Messiah. See also: Comparative mythology , Religious syncretism , and Mytheme. Paul, John and their churches replaced him by the otherworldy Christ of faith. Dunn : "[these] two facts [of baptism and crucifixion] in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent. Sanders , in "Jesus and Judaism" , says there are eight facts that can be discerned about the historical Jesus: his Baptism, that he was a Galilean itinerant preacher who was reputed to do healings and other 'miracles', he called disciples and spoke of there being 12, that he confined his activity to Israel, that he engaged in controversy over the Temple, that he was crucified outside of Jerusalem by the Romans, that those disciples continued as a movement after his death.

In his work, "The Historical figure of Jesus" he added six more: that Jesus was likely born in 4—6 BC under Herod the Great the Gregorian calendar is wrong , Jesus grew up in Nazareth, Jesus taught in small villages and towns and seemed to avoid cities, Jesus ate a final meal with his disciples, he was arrested and interrogated by Jewish authorities apparently at the instigation of the high priest, his disciples abandoned him at his death, later believed they saw him and thereafter believed Jesus would return.

Rom 1. Paul also claims possible character traits for Jesus cf. Above all, he refers very frequently to the fact that Jesus was crucified 1 Cor 1. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus. McGrath refers to 4 Maccabees 6 , "which presents a martyr praying 'Be merciful to your people, and let our punishment suffice for them.

Make my blood their purification, and take my life in exchange for theirs' 4 Maccabees Clearly there were ideas that existed in the Judaism of the time that helped make sense of the death of the righteous in terms of atonement. Two Insights for explanations on the phrase "third day". According to Pinchas Lapide, "third day" may refer to Hosea —2 : Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. This is widely recognized, to their chagrin, by mythicists themselves.

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Bart Ehrman & Robert Price Debate - Did Jesus Exist

Bauckham, Richard Eerdmans Publishing. Behr, John Irenaeus of Lyons: Identifying Christianity. Beilby, James K. Intervarsity, Bennett, Clinton Berdyaev, Nikolai. Bevan, Edwyn R. Hellenism And Christianity. Blomberg, Craig L. Howard Marshall eds. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Bolland, G. De Evangelische Jozua , Fortress, , first published Boyd, Gregory A. Lord Or Legend? Baker Books. Brandon, S. Breen, Tom. The Messiah Formerly Known as Jesus. Baylor University Press, Bromiley, Geoffrey W.

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Houghton Mifflin. De Conick, April D. Jesus: A Short Life. Lion Hudson, Dickson, John. Doherty, Earl a. Given that it would be fairly radical for a scholar of his stature to believe this, that is very odd. I suspect you might be misremembering what he said in The Unauthorised Version or getting him confused with someone else. Tim, whats ur take on 'historic Mohammed'? I understand the consensus view is 30AD, with 33 and 27 also having votes.

I'm relatively confident that 3 April 33 CE would get the majority vote among experts today. I guess it makes the most sense out of the available data. Naturally, it all depends on how reliable Luke's chronological statements in chapter three are and whether John even begins to give us a realistic depiction of the duration of his ministry.

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The prospects for that being the case are not overwhelming, considering all the construction and distortion inherent in the post-Marcan Gospel accounts. Even the weekday of the crucifixion, on which so much depends in terms of astronomical dating, has been put into question. As far as save bets go, I'd say we can assert with some confidence that Jesus was executed in his 30s and in the 30s and that this roughly coincided with Passover.

Everything else up to speculation. Some would also assert that he was born when Herod was still alive i. Some would say that this is corroborated by the Lucan version, but the latter throws Herod 4 BCE together with Quirinus 6 CE , creating a chronological jumble that should make one suspicious. The people who constructed these nativity stories were most probably themselves uncertain about Jesus's exact year of birth, but Herod was a famous historical person, the last powerful Judean ruler, which means that he was likely to end up as a historical backdrop to the nativity stories, even if the historical Jesus was in fact born a few years after Herod's death.

Kristofer, you're apparently not very familiar with OT minimalism. Dod is a Canaanite god; the name is etymologically the same as David. I will let archaeologist make that determination Gad. So far they insist it means House of David.

Seeking hard evidence for the similarity of the Horus and Jesus myths | Richard Dawkins Foundation

Get over it. Please give a single non minimalist who would support that translation. I am very familiar with OT Minimalism and I consider it to be trash. While I do not think all of the OT is accurate to suggest the ancient Jews had no ability to tell their history seems absurd to me. I fould myself with too much time on my hands today, so I spent a couple of hours skimming over the big!!!

Jesus-thread on rationalskepticism. Given the latter, Tim's patience is nothing but angelic, the many complaints concerning the acridity of his rebuttals notwithstanding. Tim, You asked why some are struggling with the Hannibal analogy, and implied that those of us who are struggling with it can't "grasp" it. I assure you, many of us fully comprehend the argument that you are making. The trouble is that first, you made an unfortunate choice with Hannibal, since it seems that not only is there an existing contemporary historical reference, but that there existed at one time, other contemporary historical references.

Taken together, plus the hurdle of extant archeological evidence, and problem of the difference in time period -- that of Hannibal and that of Jesus, these obstacles hobble the analogy. Second, and more importantly, such arguments are hardly dispositive to the question of an historical Jesus. Even more rare would be the case where no contemporary historical accounts are known to have existed for an important historical figure of that era. Obviously, since such a person would likely not be remembered by history. If, as you have argued elsewhere, there is no contemporary historical account of Jesus because the actual Jesus was not an IMPORTANT historical figure, then why would there be any historical account at all, contemporary or not?

Remember, if Jesus is just another run-of-the-mill messiah wannabe, and Paul just randomly chose that donkey to pin his tail tale? For the analogy to have any heft, one would have to demonstrate that lack of contemporary historical accounts of important historical figures of Jesus' era was not only common, but was the rule. We know that context is often the best tool historians have when assessing the veracity of claims which lack direct evidence. We know that between the possible and the probable lies a formidable empirical divide.

This is why it's pivotal for you to establish that in the era in question it is common that we don't have contemporary accounts of important historical figures. Unfortunately for the historical Jesus interpretation, this simply is not the case. Am I missing something? How is the investigation into the origins of the world's largest religion a case of "irrelevant scholarly minutia"?

Anyway, this whole issue of historical "importance" you raise is really just a will-o'-the-wisp. How well informed we are about people's lives in the ancient world is the contingent result of the sources that have come down to us. In the period in question, they are for the most part Roman politicians and military personnel, for the simple reason that these are the people Roman sources tend to focus on duh.

Our grasp of foreign heads of state not to speak of ordinary people is already much dimmer, for much the same reasons and our dearth of knowledge becomes more pressing the farther we delve into the hinterlands of the Roman Empire. Around the time Jesus was born, the Nabataean kingdom was at the height of its power. To this day we can witness the splendour of their holy city, Petra worth a visit, I might add. What do we know about these people from written sources? Virtually zilch. Were they important?

Most certainly. Thankfully, we have Josephus. For most of this region's history in the period in question, he is our only guide. He also happens to be the only writer who informs us about the existence of several first-century Messiah claimants. Some of these caused the Roman army to intervene, but even so, the significance of these events was such that the Roman sources we have are silent on them.

We would have never heard about these people if it weren't for Josephus. If you really want an answer to your rhetorical questions, you can find it in the works of Josephus worth a read, I might add. He's one of the reasons "enthusiasts" like me or Tim and, erm, the whole scholarly community, you know, people who actually study these things professionally have no qualms accepting the historicity of J of N.

An Anonymouse wrote: You asked why some are struggling with the Hannibal analogy, and implied that those of us who are struggling with it can't "grasp" it. Or are getting mighty confused about the focus of the analogy. We have NO contemporary references to Hannibal.

An Atheist Historian Examines the Evidence for Jesus (Part 1 of 2)

Hannibal and Jesus are analogous in that we have exactly the same number of contemporary references to them: zero. There is much better non-contemporary evidence for Hannibal than there is for Jesus. And there is archaeological evidence that fits those sources about Hannibal where we have nothing like that for Jesus. The point of the analogy is to note how easy it is for anyone in the ancient world to exist, even very famous people, and yet leave behind no surviving contemporary references for us. Good thing you posted anonymously. But I never claimed it to be. What are you talking about? I can give you dozens of them.

More nonsense. MOST figures in this period are attested by non-contemporary evidence. Pick the name of a Jewish aristocrat, priest or leader at random from Josephus and go try to find contemporary references to them. Do this a dozen times. What I actually assumed was that people understood that most ancient figures have no contemporary references to them. News to you it seems. Try the experiment with Josephus above and then come back and wipe the egg from your face. What an unmitigated load of crap. More Christian fanatics shoring up their cult at all costs.

Garbage in, garbage out. Says the guy who then doesn't bother to dispute a single thing in this "load of crap" and who doesn't seem to have even read it. I'm an atheist you idiot. You said it pal. Go away. The convoluted methods mythicists use to avoid the obvious consequences of the "brother of the Lord" reference proves them to be as dogmatic as anything one might find in the "Bible Belt.

Paul's qualifier pointed out exactly which James he had in mind and made the point that this was the one in charge at Jerusalem. Whether Paul was being honest or unloading a bunch of bs is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. Hey Tim. You write beautifully, i wish i could be half a writer as you are. Anyway, this piece about Jesus vs the 'Mythers' end was highly educative and entertaining. Hi Tim, You might choose to have a look at Dave Fitzgerald's response to your review. He does quite effectively rebut your diatribe of his book.

As an atheist you should at least acknowledge that doubting HJ is a valid position to take, even if you personally feel compelled to believe otherwise. You might choose to have a look at Dave Fitzgerald's response to your review. Where can this response be found? YOU be the Judge This will be fun As an atheist you should at least acknowledge that doubting HJ is a valid position to take From my review above: "This, of course, merely means the idea he did not exist is simply valid, not that it's true. All due respect Tim, but your previous response comes across as churlish and mischievous.

You think you will have 'fun'?

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You gave the book zero stars warranting no value as a contribution to the HJ debate. If you believe for whatever reason that a historical Jesus did exist that is your right and you can base the whole blog and your life around this premise. But to dismiss Fitzgerald's thesis as unscholarly when your credentials are hardly any more impressive. If you want your opinions to be respected then perhaps you should show some respect as well. I think that was pretty much my intention. So thanks. It was absolutely terrible. Easily the worst book I've ever reviewed. If you believe for whatever reason that a historical Jesus did exist that is your right Gosh, thanks - how nice of you.

And my "whole life"?! Mate - get a grip. My credentials are just fine thanks - more then enough to be able to critique a fellow amateur's self-published booklet. And when it comes to rejecting the fringe "Jesus myth" thesis I'm in some very solid good company, including virtually every scholar in any relevant field. So I'm pretty comfortable with my stance, thanks all the same. I am under no obligation to "respect" crappy, error-laden and tendentious pseudo scholarship by a biased amateurish zealot.

I'll be writing up a lengthy reply to Fitzgerald's hysterical in most sense of the word response soon. In the meantime you can put a cork in your prissy little scolding session and scuttle back to do some more arse-kissing over at Mr Amateur Hour's blog. In case it falls down the black hole of moderation, here it is: DF: Hardly. And this doctored quote can be found where? That's the bizarre thing about Carrier's allegation. He makes complaints about O'Neill quoting him and indicating supposed misspellings with "sic," yet neither of the links he provides indicate any such quotes. But you were talking about contemporary references , that is, material written about the subject when the subject was alive.

Histories doesn't fit that criterion. Indeed, if we go with a looser standard for contemporary references, that is, material written by an author who would have been alive during the subject's lifetime regardless of whether the material was written after the subject's death , then parts of the New Testament, in particular the genuine Pauline letters, could count as "contemporary. Continued Me: Offhand, it looks like James died after the time frame covered by Acts.

DF: And you would be wrong to think so. We were talking about a different James. DF: First of all, I find that suggestion highly dubious It's not a suggestion, Josephus clearly describes Ananus' actions as a "breach of the laws. We have in the extant text of Josephus an ignoble death of James by stoning.

We have in Christian texts a death story that is flashy enough to smack of exaggeration. Even if you believe that James "the Just" existed and was executed, wouldn't you take the account of him being thrown off the temple roof with a grain, nay, a boulder of salt?

DF: Remember, this is from a book Josephus wrote in 93 or And at this point, Domitian had been persecuting Christians, and there had been a previous persecution under Nero. Given this, it's not unreasonable for Romans to have heard of this sect that you yourself described as "a hated, if not outright illegal, sect. Pliny wrote in his letter to Trajan, "I have never participated in trials of Christians.

Furthermore, while one can see why a Christian scribe who saw "James, brother of Jesus" would think that the text was referring to that James, brother of Jesus, it's harder to see why a Christian would think that "James, son of Damneus. I'm not sure if you've commented here before Mr Ramsey apologies if you have - I get a lot of comments , but congratulations on your elevation to the status of "a shill for O'Neill".

It's rather weird that these guys constantly fall into these paranoid fantasies whereby everyone who dares to disagree with their hobbyist theories must all be in cahoots with each other and collectively out to get the brave and noble Myther. You've made a couple of points that I'm intending to make in my upcoming response to Fitzgerald's reply.

I must say I find much of his reply plain weird, especially that stuff about Carrier somehow catching me out in some kind of wicked "lie". That claim by Carrier was the reason I gave up on the one post on his blog I ever commented on. Exactly what Carrier was trying to claim still eludes me and the fact that Fitzgerald thinks there's some kind of "lie" exposed there is stranger still. I also have to chuckle at Fitzgerald's fan club getting all prissy over my alleged "vitriolic" review, where the strongest word I used about Fitzgerald was "amateur".

Apparently it's okay for him to do this but not okay for me to point out that this amateur hobbyist is Their Inferiority Complex combines with a Persecution Complex. Still, many of these people are former fundies so we should cut them some slack over their neuroses. The first, and very obvious conclusion is that "the brother of the lord" is a title for another Christian; Paul often refers to fellow Christians as "brothers. Gal was added. Detering's discussion of that begins on p but you should read the pages before that to get a sense of the arguments of the Dutch Radicals to whom Detering is heir.

Especially since we have Christian traditions about Jesus having a brother called James and a reference to a James "the brother of Jesus who was called Messiah" in Josephus. Here and in 1Corinthians this phrase is used, in the middle of references to other believers who are not so described, to mean a distinct class of believer. Desperate to avoid the inconvenient obvious conclusion ie that it refers to believers who happened to be his siblings , Doherty and other resort to the baseless supposition that there was an otherwise unattested sub-group who went by this title. Oh, but they weren't his siblings.

Let a Myther talk for more an 15 seconds and you'll hear them invoke convenient "interpolations" to make any bothersome evidence go away. Of course, whole books have been written on the many and various verses or passages in Paul that have been claimed to be interpolations by someone at some point.

So if an anything in any epistle bothers a Myther, it's not hard to find someone or other who has claimed it's interpolated. And when the scholars agree with the Myther, then they are to be believed without quesiton. Otherwise they are to be ignored and we are to listen only to self-published hobbyists and obsessive amateur bloggers. Go away Turton. I find it funny that while the work of mainstream scholarship, including the work of non-Christian scholars, is denounced as too much influenced by Christian bias by other proponents of the myth theory, Turton on his part cites Hermann Detering, who is a Pfarrer in der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland or in other words: a Lutheran or Reformed preacher.

Hi, this came up again via my facebook newsfeed, and I'm way glad it did. I'm surprised to see the discussion comments continuing, and glad, as you might just see it Tim. First, and briefly, I totally agree that anyone denying Jesus' existence needs to dismiss a plethora of evidence that secerely undermines that inane conclusion. And I say dismiss, because I rarely if ever see mythers actually addressing the issues that the evidence raises. Crud, going on. Tim, the main reason I wanted to post was to ask if you have done or would consider doing a critique of Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, which argues that the biblical Gospels were, in fact, written by eye-witnesses or another work that deals with the same issues from that side of the fence on the debate.

Bauckham isn't a novice or amateur enquierer, but has the scholarly background required to investigate the issue, in my oppinion. But would really enjoy seeing your take on his enquiry. And this isn't from a theological perpective either. Have a great day further, blessings. Ignorance: Yes, Mythers are completely dismissive of mainstream scholars unless they can cherrypick out some argument of theirs which supports part of a Myther's position - then the mainstream scholar becomes an unassailable authority whose opinion is written on the cornerstones of the universe.

Note, for example, how Fitzgerald holds up Alice Whealey's opinion on the Arabic and Syriac paraphrases of the TF as though it is unassailable fact. But somehow I doubt he'd do the same with Whealey's opinion that the idea Eusebius forged the TF is nonsense. Liam: I haven't read Bauckham but am familiar with his arguments and I find them unconvincing. Maurice Casey does a good job on the same question in his recent Jesus of Nazareth and tackles Bauckham's arguments directly.

He concludes that while gMark is much closer to eyewitness accounts than many current scholars accept due to its high number of Aramaicisms the idea that gJohn is as well is not sustainable. Thanks Tim, I'll check Casey out, sometime, when I get time haha. I like to read both sides of an argument, to, at the very least, understand the "other" perspective. Blessings, I guess I'll be popping in from time to time.

Detering has a Ph. D in theology , not NT studies, and his opinion seems to be based on a pretty radical interpretation of Bultmann. So this myther feels himself fit to resort to theological arguments against historicity, while most myther build their conspiracy theories on that all-pervasive and all-deciding "Xtian" bias. Thanks Baerista, that's an interesting paper. I started reading it pretty sceptical that Inowlocki would be able to make her case convincingly but by the end I had to admit she seems to be onto something.

Hello Tim, If a Myther or, more aptly put, a Jesus denier asked you to demonstrate that Jesus existed historically, what evidence would you give? Spartacus: I'd respond that I couldn't "demonstrate" this any more than I could "demonstrate" a great many things in ancient history. History isn't some kind of hard science.

What I could do is show them why I and virtually all scholars regard a historical Jesus as the "argument to the best explanation" and why the Mythicist alternatives are not considered persuasive. Excellent review, Tim. Might I offer a similar analogy for the lack of contemporary evidence. In 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius erupted and caused one of the greatest natural disasters in the known world.

Two cities, Pompeii and Herculaneum, were destroyed in the eruption, along with several smaller towns. Estimates of the death toll range from 16, to 60,, many of them being upper class Romans. The eruption is said to have lasted for 19 hours. Yet, despite this eruption being undoubtedly a major event, we have only one contemporary who mentions the eruption: Pliny the Younger wrote a letter to the Tacitus describing how his Uncle Pliny the Elder had been killed in the eruption.

Just think about that for a moment: had his uncle not been killed in the eruption, it is quite possible he would not have written about it at all, and we would have no contemporary accounts of anyone who saw the eruption happen. So if this is all we get for one the greatest disasters in the ancient world, to expect plenty of contemporary evidence for some Jewish teacher is nonsense.

Alex Good point. It should also be noted that Pliny's letters are dated to the early Second Century - ie years after the event. Hello Tim, I am just curious - what do you belief based on the historical evidence available to you that Jesus was: a human or God's son who lived as a human on earth?

Best regards Manfred. I make it very clear in this post and elsewhere on my blog that I am an atheist. That should answer your question. Hi Tim. I'm confused. Sorry for the caps, just meant for emphasis. Tim, A quote from your blog The Historical Jesus and the 'Jesus Myth' When we turn to the latest of the gospels, gJohn, we find a very different story again.

The writer of this gospel depicts Jesus as being a mystical, pre-existent Messiah who had a heavenly existence since the beginning of time. So for him the idea of Jesus being baptised by John is even more awkward. So he solves the problem by removing the baptism altogether. In this latest version, John is baptising other people and telling them that the Messiah was to come and then sees Jesus and declares him to be the Messiah John So in these three examples we have three different versions of the same story written at three times in the early decades of Christianity.

All of them are dealing with the baptism of Jesus by John in different ways and trying to make it fit with their conceptions of Jesus and at least two of them are having some trouble doing so and are having to change the story to make it fit their ideas about Jesus. This left the later gospel writers with the problem of trying to make it fit their evolving ideas about who and what Jesus was.

Now if you read the two parts I have put in caps, you will see that they contradict each other. How could John leave the baptism of Jesus out of his gospel if it was a known historical event that "could not be left out"? Neill "I'm confused. There is no contradiction there at all. Neill again "Now if you read the two parts I have put in caps, you will see that they contradict each other.

When I say "the baptism of Jesus by John was a historical event and known to be such and so could not be left out of the story" I'm referring to the general story of Jesus going to the Jordan and meeting John. In three of the four gospels this involves Jesus himself being baptised.

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  7. And the way each gospel adjusts it indicates that it was historical despite being awkward. Thanks for clarifying both of those Tim. Though, I have to say that I have found in my personal experience that when a story keeps chaniging over time, it is usually found to be untrue. Not saying that this is definitely the case with the story of Jesus, but it does still raise my level of skepticism as to the veracity of the "story". The key point in the Baptist example and several like it is that there is a core element that doesn't change, despite the fact it doesn't fit with the objectives and ideas of the gospel writers.

    Yet it's still there. Because it's historical. Tim, I find it hard to take you seriously as you an atheist tend to condradict yourself quite often, like religion does all too often. In one breath you will say that doubting a historical Jesus is a valid position to take, and in another you almost vehemently defend the truth of a historical Jesus, with what seems like great conviction. IF you are an atheist i. This is not logical. Looking forward to hearing the spin you put on this one Neill "I find it hard to take you seriously " Mainly because you seem to understand very little of what I've said.

    Luckily for me, I've never claimed I believe any such thing. I am talking about the historical Jesus - a Jewish preacher called Yeshua bar Yosef who preached a Jewish apocalyptic message to other Jewsa, got crucified, died and stayed dead. You are the one who keeps confusing this very human Jesus with the "Jesus Christ" figure of Christianity.

    The two are distinct, though the latter evolved out of memories of the former. Once you grasp that "the historical Jesus" refers to an ordinary man, you should find that everything I say makes perfect sense. Once again, it's you who are confused. Did not exist? Is a later myth? See Tim? Which of the many 'myther' books you refer actually argues against Yeshua bar Yosef? Most say, however badly, that that '"Jesus Christ" figure of Christianity' is mythical and fictional in so many ways, as you have yourself just allowed. By all means continue to debunk and test their arguments.

    Eventually you yourself will formulate the best 'myther' case, I've no doubt. All of them. And they also say he is not based on any historical preacher at all. Whereas I and virtually every scholar on the planet say otherwise. Spot the difference. Tim, Santa Claus is 'based on' Saint Nicholas. Yet would I be wrong in asserting that Santa Claus is a myth? No, but that's not the sense of the word the Mythers are using. As I've already explained to you, they claim there was no historical Jesus at all. Please try to grasp this very simple difference.

    Good work Tim. I want to point out that among others, Jesus wasn't and still isn't considered divine in Judaism and Islam, yet was written of in Islamic scripture and other written sources. I noticed what earlier commenters were going on about and then I posted this. Still, keep up the good work. I'm questioning your claim that there are no contemporary writers mentioning Hannibal. Just a quick google shows that the historian Polybius was contemporary - he was born around BC while Hannibal died no earlier than BC.

    And his work The Histories deals in extant parts with Hannibal's war in great detail. I think you're throwing stones in glass houses here when you claim someone else's research would be so poor it is a waste of paper. A somewhat more humble approach would make this kind of mistake less devastating. Johan Thanks, but I was well aware of Polybius. I'm also aware that his account of Hannibal's campaigns is not a contemporary mention of him - that work was begun around BC but was later extended to cover events up to BC and it seems he continued to work on the book until his death in BC.

    This means his account of Hannibal dates to c. Fitzgerald also jumped on Polybius in his response to my review, so I replied to him as I have to you - it's not a contemporary reference. Though I also noted that if he wants to count Polybius as a contemporary reference to Hannibal I'd be happy to grant that if he counts the gospels as contemporary references to Jesus.

    They were written about the same length of time after his death as Polybius was after Hannibal. Somehow I don't think he's going to agree to my offer. So, nice try, but I know my stuff and I check my facts. Tim, discussing this old comment by ChrisB: And before you say it, "The Unauthorised Version" is fairly cautious, but as I remember it it still tends to favour the 'no Jesus' result. The poster may have confused Fox's favouring of non-authenticity of the entire testimonium with mythicism.

    On page Fox states he thinks Josephus didn't refer to Jesus at that point: "He [Josephus] wrote between the 70s and the mid 90s, and, although he refers to John the Baptist, his books never comment on Jesus's career: the one passage which appears to do so is agreed to be a Christian addition. Similarly, he writes on "We know about them [other 'criminals'] from the histories of Josephus, and although he never mentioned Jesus's arrest or death, we can ask what Jesus must have done to be so different from these troublemakers as to deserve the injustice of a Roman crucifixion.

    There is a fourth category of the Christ Myth theory that to a large extent can be traced to Remsburg's The Christ ; it accepted the man existed as a person but basically threw out the story of that man. And this definition shows up in the and editions of the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J and is one of ways Biblical scholar I.

    In fact King Arthur and Robin Hood have historical candidates as much as years away from the point when their stories traditional take place and if these are the core of those stories then why did they time shift? More over we have a real world template that Christ Mythers can point to: John Frum. Boudicca has been written about by her contemporary Tacitus Who also wrote about Jesus, but was not his contemporary Arminius left several signs of his existence behind, such as the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, which has been confirmed by contemporaries.

    Is there an event caused by Jesus that left such signs in history? While these appear intuitively good arguments, I'd be somewhat careful about their use when debating a mythicist. When Mythers talk about "contemporary references" they are talking about ones written when the person was alive. Why these are the only references that count is something they never bother to explain, but they are not talking about references by people who happened to be contemporaries writing years later. Otherwise they would have the problem that Paul's references to Jesus would count, given that he was a slightly younger contemporary of Jesus.

    So the fact that Tacitus was about 4 years old when Boudicca died doesn't count. He wrote his account of her uprising about 50 years after her death. So that's not a "contemporary reference". Arminius left several signs of his existence behind, such as the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, which has been confirmed by contemporaries. None of those reference to this battle that mention him were written in his lifetime. See above. Over the last 15 years I've already had several Mythers try to claim we have "contemporary references" to Boudicca, Arminius and Hannibal.

    They walked away with egg all over their faces. This clarified so many points and made me move my own goal posts so thankyou. My initial critique of Mythers I didn't know there was a name for it was all the bad syncretinism they displayed comparing the Jesus myth. I saw memes all the time full of bullshit untrue comparative myth. The fact alone that religious characters were born or had parents is not remarkable as they are gods for humans and have some biological experience in common. Such comparisons and stretching other "facts" to fit are very sad.

    We cant find the truth by lying about something we dont really want to bother o understand. I love mythology and have a strong love of classics, epics and sagas. I also like fantasy fiction like SF or horror. I can see the similarities between fantasy fiction and mythology and the differences. All to many people who quote or use mythology have some kind of agenda like politics, ethics or explaining the status quot. At worse this is anti-reason, racism, self harm or paranoia. Ancient Iraqi mythology is especially of interest to me but most persons I see discussing it using a mythic methodology.

    They are are more interested in alien invader conspiracy theories based on works of Zecharia Sitchin, David Icke and Von Danikan some argue he even wrote like H. Full of sinister misuse of material evidence from archeology or text from translation. Most following this take on history and mythology dont even know how so few unqualified readers came to predominate over thousands of scholars world wide. In population at least. Syncretism is used when they want to make comparisons by focusing on similarities. Can be nice to consider but you cant just ignore things that dont fit and cherrypick out all the other possible stories.

    Mythic readings happily look for links then microfocus on a small detail often out of context or connection with culture. It is a shame people want to live in a magical reality cant just play dungeons and dragons and be happy. Cheers for this. I think everyone is seriously ignoring the real issue here.

    Oh, and he preached god. Yet it makes no difference whatsoever if he existed or not. Once you strip away all the pagan and supernatural elements created by the Roman Church Unremarkable at best. There are stories of lesser men achieving far greater The chances are he was a pacifist, which appalled people when he was killed. And that is just an assumption. In fact, the chances that the Roman's crucified a Jew called Yeshua who preached god So yes, a Jew called Yoshua who preached in god and got a small following must have existed.

    And that is all you will ever have really. About Boudica. At one point he highlights that there is no contemporary evidence for her existence and may have been an invention. Dio and Tacitus give differing reasons for her death - the man who defeated her does not even mention who he defeated at Watling Street other than a large rabble of Britons.

    Seeking hard evidence for the similarity of the Horus and Jesus myths

    So people could argue that the disorganized mass of angry barbarians were given a figure head in the form her Boudica. In effect, Boudica mythers. He himself doesn't hold that theory, but gave it as food for thought. I merely pointed out the futility of the argument. This whole myther. He was not born of a virgin So why are people bent on arguing for and against some random street preacher called Jesus just happened to be killed in the first century? At best he was a random hippy who preached and taught people.

    Nothing out the ordinary given the huge amount of people doing the same thing. Most probably he was a mentally ill, or deluded man who genuinely believed he could do supernatural things. As worst he was some kind of David Koresh who convinced people he was supernatural. A con man and trickster who started a cult. So what are 'mythers' arguing against?

    The supernatural side Supernatural things don't exist, it is not rational and there is no logic. It is crack pot. No iff's, no butt's. Given that atheists do not believe in make believe deities, it stands to reason that we find a supernatural Jesus ridiculous. Yes, a bloke called Jesus existed in the 1st century. Can you try to explain why I shouldn't be interested in this "bloke"? Because I'm missing that from what you've said. Try again. You are missing it from what I said as at no point ever did I say it. Not once. You can be as interested in him as you want.

    I myself must have some interest as I would not have stumbled across this blog in the first place. I have already stated that I don't have a problem with that. Yet you keep bringing it up. I read both my comments, read yours and think "is that what you got from that? After that revelation we have to delve deeper, and that it where arguments start. It is these arguments I find futile.

    They normally end up with mud slinging and denouncing of either side. Is there something special about Jesus that actually warrants this? Boudicca doesn't get it, nor does Robin Hood. No one rages angrily over the existence of King Arthur. Because it is a religious matter. Most of what people 'know' Jesus is from assumption. When people question the assumption they don't do only that, but go overboard. Vice versa. David Fitzgerald, for example, goes overboard as we all know. They you go overboard by denouncing him with the fervor of a priest.

    I wouldn't mind knowing two things. I simply don't get your angle in all this : It doesn't change my views on you or anything, but understanding where the argument originates helps me understand the debate a tad more. I have no idea what you're talking about. You didn't say what, exactly? Again, I have no idea what you're referring to. I keep bringing what up? The fact that my profile makes it pretty clear that I'm an atheist should answer your question here.

    My review makes it pretty clear that I'm an atheist as well. As does pretty much everything I've written on this blog on this subject and several others. Your question makes me wonder if you've even read the review you're commenting on. It is not interest I argue against, rather the arguing - if that makes any sense lol Interest is one thing, but it has just become one of those stubborn debates not the article, that was sound. Mythers don't just say "a supernatural messiah didn't exist". Which is pretty lame.

    And this gets countered by atheist proving that Jesus existed with the same fervour of a priest. It is getting silly. Don't worry, I did read your profile and know you are an atheist. Only from the posts, it was not made clear. Because when you look at it, atheists are fervently proving Jesus existed. We've all come across Christian blogs who come up with very similar arguments. Sometimes this ends up in, as an odd twist, verifying evidence that would otherwise been completely ignored.

    Like the gospels. Fitzgerald says "here's why the gospels are wrong", gets countered with "why his denouncing of the gospels is wrong. It is now about a bunch of texts that both side don't believe are a truly credible source. Then, when you look at it. There is as much evidence for Jesus as there is King Arthur. Not a bad thing, as there must be something behind the myths and legends. I hope I've cleared my point up a bit. I'm not saying I am right, just that it my take in it. Asking a why I have a problem I didn't ask why you have a problem. I asked you why you think "only" showing that Jesus was a Jewish preacher should somehow be a problem for me.

    It isn't. No, I counter it with the rigor of someone who wants to analyse the question objectively - ie the way historians do. The problem with the Mythers is they don't do this. So why did you ask if I was a "believer"? Because I shouldn't need to make it clear on a blog that declares me to be a "Wry, dry, rather sarcastic, eccentric, occasionally arrogant Irish-Australian atheist bastard.

    I also make it clear in any other post where it's in any way relevant. It' not my fault that you didn't read the post carefully. Before I reply, I will state that I am not a myther and I did like the article. I have nothing against you and think we got off on the wrong for a little. I took from it what I could. But now that it's all been cleared up, it's cool. Wires cross there on my part. Sorry about that. Your article was sound, I enjoyed it. But debating mythers makes you go round and round in circles It the conspiracy theory mentality.

    As long as they get attention and keep dragging people back to argue with them You can take all the logic and reason you want to the argument Both are firmly set in their ideas. You are arguing that Jesus exists and using many arguments that Christians use. David Fitz has managed to stress you out to the extent that even an atheist now sounds like a preacher. In published works all it takes it a misquote and you can be misrepresented. Because they can now rip the argument to bits and make you look like your fresh out of the bible belt.

    Its the only reason they chose to pick it. They pick the arena, so to speak. Now the argument is derailed on who quotes the gospels. At the end of this article, only a small amount mind you, uses the gospels as evidence. Yet we both know they have been so heavily edited, that the true story cannot be picked from fiction. They are not a credible source.

    For instance there is no evidence for the Census of Quirinius. Even worse, all the Roman evidence points to such a census being absurd. It is clearly an invention. The same gospels used to prove historicy also tell of water walking and resurrection. It's like using Geoffrey of Monmouth to prove Arthur. Hence it comes across as pretty Christian sounding. As you said, you've been debating this for ten years. It means they've caught you in a trap and they know it. Mythers will never listen. Like the 'truthers'.

    They are totally absent of reason. Then, David Fitz trolls you with a lengthy reply which I may read for a laugh and you respond. Hence I said the argument was futile. Not your article, but the backward and forwards argument. All to prove and disprove the existence of an unremarkable man in the first century.

    It was n't a get at you personally, rather the 'myther-non myther' whack-a-mole. You are arguing that Jesus exists and using many arguments that Christians use I use these arguments because they make sense. If some Christians use some of them as well, that tells us zero about the validity of the arguments. They might also say grass is green but that doesn't mean it isn't. That's ridiculous. I'm not "stressed" by his stupid arguments, just motivated to critique them for the benefit of those who don't have the background knowledge to see their flaws.

    Nothing more. Nonsense again. I only bother to counter their arguments when I know there is a good chance some of those looking on will benefit. As soon as it becomes clear I'm talking to no-one but close minded Mythers, I move on. Life is too short to waste on ideologues. I think I'll decide when I'll bother with them and when I won't. I don't think I need your help with that thanks. Using the gospels to prove Jesus, is like using the Argonautica to prove Jason. The gospels get so much wrong.

    If they can't even get the basics of a census correct what chance have you got of biographical facts? The only Census that Quirinius did didn't even affect Galilee, and Jesus would have been around 7 at the time. You have earthquakes! The massacre of innocents is not mentioned outside the gospels.

    These are historical events that would be in living memory to the people that wrote the gospels - yet they make these fundamental errors? Given that historians learn tales of WWII from war veterans, as it is in living memory. How on earth did these Hebrews make such huge errors? It was clearly fabricated. If they fabricated that - what else is true?

    We know for fact that the gospels were heavily edited over the centuries, so do you even know what parts you are referencing? So no - you simply cannot count the gospels. You need outside sources. Gospels are a myther trap, and here they will win on the very account that a 'gospel' argument can be disintegrated in no time. If you use the gospels, then congratulations, you may as well move onto Geoffrey of Monmouth and his concrete proof that London was founded when Brutus of Troy founded Londona after defeating two giants.

    Hence the need for outside sources. And what viable sources do you have? Josephus - a good prime source as he was non-bias. Tacitus - mentioned in name only. Suetonius - name only Talamud - says they hanged him! Mara - mentions a King of the Jews No mention of him being a fisherman, having 12 disciples, healing the sick, Lazarus, Judas' betrayal, wise men and no room at the inn.

    Goes back to by point you have a bloke called Yeshua, who lived in the 1st century believed in god and preached. Then was killed. That is it. So let's stick to it. It's the only thing Mythers can't beat. However this is not the case if you are using sources that lack credibility.

    The gospels get so much wrong Then this still doesn't bother me because if they are "using the gospels to prove Jesus", I'm not. So we don't have a problem. I'm using the gospels the way historians use such texts. They are evidence of what people in subsequent decades believed about Jesus and so can be used to indicate how those beliefs developed and evolved.

    This is why they can be use to examine this question, they just can't be taken at naive face value. Luckily no historian uses them that way. That's all I'm sticking to. And all I have ever stuck to. So I have no idea why you keep posting these weird comments on my blog. Is this how you approach everyone who questions your judgement? Do you forget that I only commented on the futility of the myther-non myther argument Nothing out of the ordinary. You questioned why there was a problem, so explained it.

    You questioned again. So I explained again - using detail as you clearly didn't understand it.