Dorothy M. Murdock, also known by her pen name Acharya S, is an American author and proponent of the Christ myth theory. She writes books, and operates a website named Truth be Known. She argues that Christianity is founded on earlier myths and the characters depicted in Christianity are based upon Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and other myths. Her theories have received negative commentaries from academic scholars.
In her various books, she describes the New Testament as a work of mythic fiction within a historical setting. She claims that the story of Jesus Christ is a retelling of various pagan myths, representing "astrotheology", or the story of the Sun, and also incorporates the science of archaeoastronomy. She asserts the pagans understood the stories to be myths, but Christians obliterated evidence to the contrary by destroying and controlling literature when they attained control of the Roman Empire, which led to widespread illiteracy in the ancient world, ensuring the mythical nature of Christ's story was hidden.
Murdock compares Jesus' history to other "savior-gods" such as Mithra, Horus, Adonis, Krishna, Quetzalcoatl, and Odin, claiming the similarities result from a common source: the myth of the sun-god or solar deity.
According to her website, Murdock received a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Classics, Greek Civilization, from Franklin and Marshall College, after which she spent a year at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Greece.
In 1999, as Acharya S, she published her first book, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold, arguing the concept of Jesus Christ as myth. She states the Christ story is a fabrication. In 2001, she wrote the foreword to a new edition of The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors: Christianity Before Christ, a book by 19th-century skeptic Kersey Graves.
A follow-up book, Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled, was published in 2004. In it she comments on the Hindu story of the life of Krishna, as well as the life of Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama). She claims parallels to the Christian stories of the life of Jesus as evidence that the story of Jesus was written based on existing stories, and not the life of a real man. Suns of God also seeks to address some of the criticisms leveled at Christ Conspiracy.
She founded Seattle based Stellar House Publishing in 2005, through which she self-publishes a number of her books. According to the website, they claim to specialize in "Archaeology, History, Astrotheology, Mythology and Religion".
In 2005–06 she was one of fifty Fellows of The Council for Secular Humanism's Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion (CSER).
Her 2007 book, Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ continues the theme of The Christ Conspiracy by expanding her theory questioning the historical validity of Jesus Christ alleging "early Christian history to be largely mythical, by sorting through available historical and archaeological data."
She has been interviewed on a variety of radio stations, including the Alan Colmes Show. She also appears on podcasts such as Black Op Radio, and Coffee, Cigarettes and Gnosis. She has been interviewed in Paranoia magazine and by The Progressive Observer.
Her presentation of Christianity as a "conspiracy" has drawn positive attention from other conspiracy theorists and critics of Christianity. In his book You Are Being Lied To, Russ Kick describes The Christ Conspiracy as "an essential book for anyone who wants to know the reality behind the world's dominant religion." In a book on American conspiracy theorists, Kenn Thomas calls her a "great chronicler of the conspiracy known as Christianity".
In his book In Search of Jesus, Baptist comparative religion scholar Clinton Bennett describes her views as being similar to those of radical freethinker Robert Taylor (nicknamed "the Devil's chaplain"), secularist MP and fellow Christ mythicist John M. Robertson, and American mythographer Joseph Campbell. In an article for The Christian Century, Butler University religion professor James F. McGrath describes her viewpoint as one that "once had some currency among scholars" in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but was subsequently abandoned.
Acharya S was criticized by Joel McDurmon, in part for the premise that Jesus was based on ancient sun gods because of the modern English homophones son and sun. Atheist activist and fellow Christ mythicist Richard Carrier criticized her use of the inscriptions at Luxor to make the claim that the story of Jesus birth was inspired by the Luxor story of the birth of Horus. Acharya S produced a rejoinder to Carrier's critique in which she describes the importance of the ancient Egyptian narratives of the birth of gods such as the one described at Luxor, the connections that existed between Egypt and the ancient Hebrew people and asks "[C]ould the creators of Christianity really have been oblivious to them?" Theologian Robert M. Price, who is sympathetic to the Christ myth hypothesis, wrote a critical review of Murdock's first book. However, he subsequently promoted her book Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled in The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-Four Formative Texts, and wrote the foreword to Who Was Jesus?: Fingerprints of the Christ.
In his book Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman discusses The Christ Conspiracy which he calls "the breathless conspirator's dream". Ehrman says "all of Acharya's major points are in fact wrong" and her book "is filled with so many factual errors and outlandish assertions that it is hard to believe the author is serious." Taking her as representative of some other writers about the Christ myth theory, he generalizes that "Mythicists of this ilk should not be surprised that their views are not taken seriously by real scholars, mentioned by experts in the field, or even read by them." As a rebuttal of Ehrman's critiques, Robert M. Price, Richard Carrier, D.M. Murdock, and others, published the book Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth in 2013.
- Murdock, D.M. (as Acharya S) (1999). The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. Kempton, Illinois: Adventures Unlimited Press. ISBN 0-932813-74-7.
- Murdock, D.M. (as Acharya S) (2004). Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled. Kempton, Illinois: Adventures Unlimited Press. ISBN 1-931882-31-2.
- Murdock, D.M. (2007). Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ. Stellar House Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9799631-0-0.
- Murdock, D.M. (2009). Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection. Stellar House Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9799631-1-7.
- Murdock, D.M. (2009). The Gospel According to Acharya S. Stellar House Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9799631-2-4.
- Murdock, D.M. (2014). Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver. Stellar House Publishing. ISBN 0-9799631-8-4.
- Picknett, Lynn & Prince, Clive (2008). The Masks of Christ. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-4165-9446-8.
- Foreman, Mark W. (2012). "Challenging the Zeitgeist Movie: Parallelomania on Steroids". In Copan, Paul & Craig, William Lane (eds.). Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing. p. 170. ISBN 978-1-4336-7220-0.
- Murdock, D. M. "Who is Acharya S?". Truth Be Known. Archived from the original on January 16, 2010. Retrieved January 1, 2010.
- Price, Robert M. (2011) . "Foreword". In Murdock, D.M. Who Was Jesus?: Fingerprints of the Christ. Seattle: Stellar House. pp. v–vii. ISBN 978-0-9799631-0-0.
- Bennett, Clinton (2001). In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 208. ISBN 0-8264-4916-6.
- "The Christ Conspiracy – Home". Retrieved September 11, 2009.
- "Bart Ehrman on Acharya S".
- "Refutation to Acharya S by Mike Licona".
- Price, Robert M. (Summer 2001). "Aquarian Skeptic". Free Inquiry 21 (3): 66–67.
- Acharya S (1999). The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. Chapter 22, "The Making of a Myth"
- Fox, Storm. "Man's Inhumanity to Man: An Interview with Acharya S". Paranoia. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved August 1, 2008.
- Acharya S. "What Are Acharya's Credentials?". Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
- Narayanan, Vasudha (2010). Hinduism. Understanding Religions series. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-4358-5620-2. "The term acharya usually denotes the formal head of a monastery, sect, or subsect, or a teacher who initiates a disciple into a movement."
- Adventure Unlimited Press, rear cover of Murdock (1999)
- "IG: Acharya S – 2nd Appearance – Suns of God". The Infidel Guy. 2001. Retrieved January 4, 2010.
- "About Us". Stellar House Publishing. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- "CSER Home / CSER's Mission / JSER / Conference 2005–06". Retrieved August 1, 2008.
- "Stellar House Publishing Releases 'Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ' for Worldwide Distribution". December 27, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2010.
- "The Gospel According to Acharya S". Stellar House Publishing. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- "The New Zeitgeist Part 1 Sourcebook (2010)".
- "Acharya S in the Media". Retrieved July 1, 2008.
- "Black Op Radio, Show No. 351 Part 3 – Acharya S Episode". December 7, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2008.
- Abraxas (2006). "Coffee, Cigarettes and Gnosis podcast episodes No. 5 & 6" (audio (mp3)). The God above God. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
- "The Good Shepherd Part II: Revelations". Retrieved August 1, 2008.
- Kick, Russ (2001). You Are Being Lied To: The Disinformation Guide to Media Distortion, Historical Whitewashes and Cultural Myths. New York: The Disinformation Company. p. 272. ISBN 0-9664100-7-6.
- Thomas, Kenn (2006). Parapolitics: Conspiracy in Contemporary America. Adventures Unlimited Press. pp. 15, 127. ISBN 1-931882-55-X.
- Bennett, Clinton (2001). In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 339. ISBN 0-8264-4916-6.
- McGrath, James F. (November 15, 2011). "Fringe View: The World of Jesus Mythicism". The Christian Century 128 (123). p. 12.
- McDurmon, Joel (2008). Zeitgeist: The Movie Exposed: Is Jesus an Astrological Myth?. Powder Springs, Georgia: American Vision. pp. 17–20. ISBN 978-0-915815-92-0.
- Carrier, Richard C. (2004). "Brunner's Gottkoenigs & the Nativity of Jesus: A Brief Communication". Frontline Apologetics. Archived from the original on January 23, 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2009.
- Murdock, D.M. "The Nativity Scene of Amenhotep III at Luxor". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
- p. 1179
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 20–24. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6. OCLC 808490374.
- Richard, Carrier (2013). Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist?. American Atheist Press. ISBN 978-1578840199.