Christ myth theory

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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 for the debate over the validity of stories in the New Testament, see Historical reliability of the Gospels.
Christ Myth Theory
Noel Coypel The Resurrection of Christ.jpg
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 as a flesh and blood historical figure, but is simply a mythical or fictional character created by the early Christian community.
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, Alvar Ellegård, Thomas L. Thompson, Thomas L. Brodie, Robert M. Price, Richard Carrier, Earl Doherty, D.M. Murdock,
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] The Christ myth theory goes beyond assuming the supernatural events described in the gospels are not historical (which is the mainstream view in Historical Jesus research), it assumes that the gospels are based on no meaningful historical core.

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 from the first century, and that Christianity had pagan and/or mythical roots.[2] There have been a number of books and documentaries on this subject.[3][4][5]

Despite arguments put forward by authors who have questioned the existence of a historical Jesus, there remains a strong consensus in historical-critical biblical scholarship that Jesus lived.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] However, certain scholars, particularly in Europe, have made the case that while there are a number of plausible "Jesuses" that could have existed, there can be no certainty as to which Jesus was the historical Jesus, and that there should also be more scholarly research and debate on this topic.[13][14] The two main events agreed upon by most biblical scholars are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[15][16][17][18]

Key arguments[edit]

German historian Bruno Bauer developed a three-fold argument for the Christ myth theory in the 1800s, which set the basis for most subsequent adherents.[19] The following summaries of major arguments and their counter-arguments are meant as a brief overview. For further details or other arguments, consult the descriptions of the various authors and the Criticism section below.

Questionable accuracy and authorship of the New Testament[edit]

Myth proponents argue the gospels were written many decades or even a century after Jesus' estimated year of death, by individuals who likely never met him and then were edited or forged over the centuries by unknown scribes with their own agendas.[20] They often argue the four canonical gospels were chosen by early church leaders from among dozens of others, frequently contradict each other and contain many details which are historically inaccurate, specifically the Nativity of Jesus.[21] Hill states that "in doctrine, tone and spirit" the rejected gospels "made any discrepancies between the four look pale and insignificant by comparison".[22] Modern scholarship places the dates for most of the gospels within the latter half of the first century (not even a century after)[23] and Hill states that the canonical gospels (though obviously not written by Jesus's disciples) were written by immediate or near immediate successors and quickly accepted by the majority of the Church.[24] According to some myth proponents, the letters from St. Paul or Pauline epistles were written before the gospels and generally refer to a spiritual Christ with no references to his life, parables or miracles.[25] Mainstream academia dismisses the claims of a purely spiritual Christ as nothing more than special pleading, arguing that Paul's writings refer to a physical and historical Jesus.[23] Ultimately, mainstream biblical scholars say there are historically verifiable events such as the baptism and crucifixion of Jesus,[26] and that even though the Bible is not wholly accurate, it does not mean that Jesus never lived.[27]

Lack of historical evidence about Jesus from first century[edit]

Myth proponents claim there is significance in the lack of surviving historic records about Jesus of Nazareth from any non-Jewish author until the second century,[28] adding that Jesus left no writings or other archaeological evidence.[29] Using the argument from silence, they note that Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria did not mention Jesus when he wrote about the cruelty of Pontius Pilate around 40 CE.[30] However, mainstream biblical scholars point out that much of the writings of antiquity have been lost[31] and that there was little written about any Jew or Christian in this period.[32][33] Myth proponents argue that the Testimonium Flavianum by Jewish historian Josephus (AD 37–c. 100), a passage that states that Jesus the Messiah was a wise teacher who was crucified by Pilate, may have been a partial interpolation or forgery by Christian apologist Eusebius in the fourth century or by others.[34] Some myth proponents also speculate that when Josephus called James the "brother" of Jesus of Nazareth in the Antiquities, he was referring to another Jesus,[35] to a mythic Christ that had already have been historicized, or to fraternal brotherhood rather than a literal sibling.[36] This is dismissed by some in mainstream academia on the grounds that there is no evidence of a supposed "Jerusalem brotherhood".[23] Roman historians Tacitus (AD 56– c.117), Pliny the Younger (AD 61– c.112) and Suetonius (AD 69–c.112) all make brief mentions of Christians, Christ or Chrestus, but myth proponents suggest they may have been forgeries[37] or that these authors were merely reporting hearsay and do not mention the name "Jesus".[38] Mainstream academia counters that the sources written "shortly" after Jesus's lifetime (particularly by Tacitus and Josephus) mostly appear genuine and are sufficient evidence that Jesus existed despite possible later tampering.[39]

Pagan and mythological roots of Christianity[edit]

Myth proponents argue that 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,[40] Mithra/Mithras,[41] Prometheus,[42] Dionysus,[43] Osiris,[44] Buddha,[45] and Krishna,[46] as well as Christ-like historical figures like Apollonius of Tyana.[47] However, many mainstream biblical scholars respond that most of these parallels are either coincidences or without historical basis and/or that these parallels do not prove that a Jesus figure did not live.[47] In particular, the transformations faced by deities have distinct differences from the resurrection of Jesus. Osiris regains consciousness as king of the underworld, rather than being "transformed into an eschatological new creation" as Craig S. Keener writes.[48] While Jesus was born from a human woman (traditionally a virgin) and accompanied by shepherds, Mitra is born (unaccompanied by shepherds) from the goddess Aditi (to whom the word "virgin" is only rarely, loosely, and indirectly applied in a highly poetic sense), while Mithras (granted, accompanied by shepherds later) emerges full-grown from a rock.[49] The rebirth of many of these deities was a clear metaphor for the renewal of spring that repeated the death every year, rather than a historic event meant to proclaim the god's cancellation of death. Some of these parallels appear after Christianity (e.g. the earliest references to Adonis rising from the dead is in the second century CE, Attis a century later), and are often only known through later Christian sources. Most other and later parallels were made in the now discredited works of James George Frazer,[48] or are otherwise found guilty of parallelomania[50] and even misrepresentation of religious (both Christian and non-Christian) and linguistic sources[48][51] (for example, ignoring the false cognate relationship between Christ and Krishna).[51]

Some argue that stories of Jesus are reminiscent of the "mythic hero archetype" present in many cultures who often have miraculous conceptions or virgin births heralded by wise men and marked by a star, are tempted by or fight evil forces, die on a hill, appear after death, and then ascend to heaven.[52] However, Christian theologians have also cited the mythic hero archetype as a defense of Christian teaching while completely affirming a historical Jesus,[53][54] some even identifying the historical and archetypal Jesuses[54] or citing Carl Jung's statement "this Christ of St. Paul's would hardly have been possible without the historical Jesus."[53] Secular academics have also pointed out that the teachings of Jesus marked "a radical departure from all the conventions by which heroes had been defined."[55]

Some myth proponents suggest that some parts of the New Testament were meant to appeal to Gentiles as familiar allegories rather than history, some theorists also note that other stories seem to try to reinforce Old Testament prophecies[56] and repeat stories about figures like Elijah, Elisha,[57] Moses and Joshua in order to appeal to Jewish converts.[58] Arguments drawing comparisons between the New and Old Testaments have traditionally been made by Christian theologians in defense of their teachings without doubting a historical Jesus, however.[59]

Notable proponents[edit]

18–19th centuries[edit]

Volney and Dupuis[edit]

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 (1757–1820) and Charles-François Dupuis (1742–1809).[60][61] Volney and Dupuis argued that Christianity was an amalgamation of various ancient mythologies and that Jesus was a totally mythical character.[60][62]

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.[63] 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.[63]

Volney argued that Abraham and Sarah were derived from Brahma and his wife Saraswati, and that Christ was related to Krishna.[64] Volney published before Dupuis but made use of a draft version of Dupuis' work, and followed much of his argument, but at times differed from him, e.g. in arguing that the gospel stories were not intentionally created as an extended allegory grounded in solar myths, but were compiled organically when simple allegorical statements were misunderstood as history.[63][65]

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.[66] Despite its short term setbacks, the work of Volney gathered significant following among British and American radical thinkers during the 19th century.[66]

Strauss and Bauer[edit]

In 1835, German theologian David Friedrich Strauß (1808–1874) 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.[67][68][69] According to Strauss, the early church developed these miracle stories to present Jesus as a fullfillment 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.

The book caused an uproar across Europe. The Earl of Shaftesbury called the 1846 translation by Marian Evans "the most pestilential book ever vomited out of the jaws of hell," [70] 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.[71]

German Bruno Bauer (1809–1882), who taught at the University of Bonn, took Strauss' arguments further and became the first author to systematically argue that Jesus did not exist.[72][73] Bauer's writings presented the first use of the threefold argument used in much of myth theory in later years (but often rediscovered independently), namely the denial of the historical value of the New Testament accounts, pointing to the scarcity of references to Jesus in first century non-Christian sources and accusing Christianity of relying on syncretism from its earliest days.[72]

Bauer initially left open the question of whether an historical Jesus existed at all.[74] 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.[75] 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.[72][76]

Higgins, Graves and Massey[edit]

Yorkshire gentleman Godfrey Higgins (1772–1833) 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,"[77] and that Christian editors “either from roguery or folly, corrupted them all.”[78] It should be noted, however, the book also includes unorthodox theories such as that the Celtic Druids came from India.[79]

American Kersey Graves (1813–1883) was a school teacher and author who wrote the 1875 bookThe 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.[80]

Starting in the 1870s, English poet and author Gerald Massey (1828–1907) became interested in Egyptology and reportedly taught himself Egyptian hieroglyphics at the British Museum.[81] 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,[79] and despite criticisms from Stanley Porter and Ward Gasque, Massey's theories regarding Egyptian etymologies for certain scriptures are supported by noted contemporary Egyptologists.[82]

Radical Dutch school[edit]

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.[83] 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.[84] The group wrote in Dutch and focused mostly on the Old Testament.[83] They had some notable followers, but by the early part of the 20th century they had faded out.[83]

In addition to the authors listed on this page, early Christ myth proponents included Swiss skeptic Rudolf Steck.,[85] English historian Edwin Johnson, English radical Rev. Robert Taylor and his associate Richard Carlile.

20th century[edit]

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.[84] 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.[86] 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."[87]

The work of social anthropologist Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941) has had an influence on various myth theorists, although Frazer himself believed that Jesus existed.[88] In 1890 he published the first edition of 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 Frazer expressly stated that his theory assumed a historical Jesus.[89]

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 develop the idea.[90]

In addition to the authors listed on this page, American historian Harry Elmer Barnes listed the following 20th century authors and critics who believed as he did that Jesus was not historical in 1931: Charles Virolleaud, Georg Brandes, Gustaaf van den Bergh, Thomas Whittaker, Albert Kalthoff, Edward Carpenter, Emilio Bossi, Samuel Lublinski, J. C. Stendel, and Emil Felden.[91] Other proponents in the last century included Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare, Salomon Reinach, Édouard Dujardin, John G. Jackson, Hannen Swaffer, Archibald Robertson, Prosper Alfaric, Albert Bayet, Georges Las Vergnas and Georges Ory.[92]

J.M. Robertson[edit]

John Mackinnon Robertson (1856–1933), a Scottish journalist who became a Liberal MP, argued in 1900 that Jesus never existed but was an invention by a first-century messianic cult.[93][94] In Robertson's view, religious groups invent new gods to fit the needs of the society of the time.[93] 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.[93][95][96] Roberson 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.[93][97] 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.[93][98][99]

John E. Remsburg[edit]

John Eleazer Remsburg (sometimes spelled Remsberg) (1848–1919) was a school teacher, author, and an ardent religious skeptic who in 1909 put out a book called The Christ (Retitled The Christ Myth in a 2007 NuVision Publications reprint) which explored the range and possible origins of the "Christ Myth". While The Christ along with The Bible and Six Historic Americans is regarded as an important freethought book,[100] Remsburg made the distinction between a possible Jesus of history ("Jesus of Nazareth") and the Jesus of the Gospels ("Jesus of Bethlehem"). Remsburg's position was that while there was good reason to believe the "Jesus of Nazareth" existed, the "Christ of Christianity" was a mythological creation.[101] In his book The Christ Myth Remsburg stated that although Jesus may have existed, we know nothing about him, and provided 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.[102] This Remsberg list has appeared in a handful of books regarding the nonhistoricity hypothesis by authors such as James Patrick Holding,[103] Hilton Hotema,[104] Jawara D. King,[105] Madalyn Murray O'Hair,[106] Asher Norman,[107] D. M. Murdock and Robert M. Price,[108] Frank Zindler,[109] and Tim C. Leedom et al..[110] The Remsburg List was improved upon in an article in Free Inquiry magazine in August 2014, citing 126 writers shortly after Jesus "who should have written about Jesus, but did not."[111] The supporting evidence was presented in the appendix to the author's book.[112]

W.B. Smith[edit]

William Benjamin Smith (1850–1934) was a mathematics professor at Tulane University who around the turn of the 20th century argued that it was implausible that there had been a human Jesus and that the story of Jesus was composed by merging elements from a pre-Christian cult, a solar deity cult and the Hindu god Agni transformed to the Latin used Agnus (the lamb).[113][114][115][116][117] Smith argued for a symbolic interpretation of the stories about Jesus. He argued that Christianity was a monotheistic Israelite cult that opposed polytheism and as a result had to mask itself and could only speak in symbols.[114] Thus the message of Christianity needs to be decoded, and references to Jesus can only be seen in abstract terms, e.g. in the parable of the Jesus and the rich young man there never was a young man, and the young man symbolizes the nation of Israel.[114] The ideas of Smith found sympathetic ears in Germany, with Arthur Drews and Albert Kalthoff soon following along the same path early in the 20th century.[113]

Arthur Drews[edit]

Christian Heinrich Arthur Drews (pronounced “drefs”) (1865–1935) was a professor of philosophy at the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe, Germany.[118] In his 1909 book The Christ Myth he argued that Christianity had been a Jewish Gnostic cult that spread by appropriating aspects of Greek philosophy and life-death-rebirth deities. [119]

In The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus (1912) and later in The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present (1926) Drews reviewed biblical scholarship as well as the work of other myth theorists of his time, and wrote that his purpose was to show that everything about the historical Jesus had a mythical character.[120] Nikolai Berdyaev stated that Drews as an anti-Semite argued against the historical existence of Jesus for the sake of Aryanism.[121] Drews took part in a series of public debates with theologians and historians who opposed his arguments.[122][123]

Drew's work—which had popularized the ideas of Bruno Bauer, the tutor and Ph.D. advisor of Karl Marx—found fertile soil in the Soviet Union, where Marxist–Leninist atheism was the official doctrine of the state. Lenin (1870–1924), the Soviet leader from 1917 until his death, argued that it was imperative in the struggle against religious obscurantists to form a union with people like Drews.[124] Several editions of Drews's The Christ Myth were published in the Soviet Union from the early 1920s onwards, and his arguments were included in school and university textbooks.[125] Public meetings asking "Did Christ live?" were organized, during which party operatives debated with clergymen.[126][127]

Paul-Louis Couchoud[edit]

Physician and philosopher Paul-Louis Couchoud (1879–1959) was influenced by the work of Arthur Drews and argued that Jesus never existed but was invented by the Apostle Paul and that Christianity was a schismatic branch of the followers of John the Baptist.[128] Couchoud rejected non-Christian sources such as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus, and Suetonius and argued that the name Jesus was invented through the transformation of Old Testament references such as Exodus 23:20.[128] Couchoud argued that Paul's affirmation of the divinity of Jesus alongside Yahweh (God) suggested that Jesus was not a historical man, as no Jew could have accepted that relationship.[128]

Couchoud developed his ideas gradually through a series of essays and books, including The Enigma of Jesus (1923, transl. 1924) for which anthropologist James Frazer wrote an introduction, followed by The Mystery of Jesus (1924, no translation), The First Edition of the Paulina [i.e. Paul's epistles] (1928), Jewish Wisdom (1930), Apocalypse (1930, transl. The Book of Revelation, 1932) and Jesus: Le Dieu Fait Homme (1937, transl. The Creation of Christ 1939). This embroiled him in public controversies with historian Charles Guignebert and his Jesus (1933) and theologians such as Maurice Goguel, with Jesus the Nazarene: myth or history? (1925/6), and Alfred Loisy, with History and Myth of Jesus-Christ (1938), who all wrote their books to argue against Couchoud.[128][129][130]

G.J.P.J. Bolland[edit]

Gerardus Johannes Petrus Josephus Bolland (1854–1922) argued in 1907 that Christianity evolved from Gnosticism, and that Jesus was simply a symbolic figure representing Gnostic ideas about God.[131] Bolland was an autodidact whose philosophical stance resembled that of Bruno Bauer and he supported a number of the ideas of the Dutch Radical School.[132]

G.R.S. Mead[edit]

George Robert Stowe Mead (1863–1933) was a school master who advanced the position that Jesus existed but that he had lived in 100 B.C.E.[133] In his book Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.? (1903) Mead argued that the Talmud points to Jesus being crucified c. 100 BCE, and hence the Christian gospels are mythical.[134] Tom Harpur has compared Mead's impact on myth theory to that of Bruno Bauer and Arthur Drews.[135] Robert M. Price cites Mead as one of several examples of alternative traditions that place Jesus in a different time period than the Gospel accounts.[136]

J. M. Allegro[edit]

British academic John M. Allegro

Archaeologist, philologist, author, academic and broadcaster John Marco Allegro (1923–1988) argued in The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (1970) and The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (1979) that Christianity began as a shamanic cult centering around the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms, and that the New Testament was a coded record of a clandestine cult.[137][138] Allegro argued that the authors of the Christian gospels did not understand Essene thought, and had confused the meaning of the scrolls and built the Christian tradition based on the misunderstanding of the scrolls.[139][140] He also argued that the story of Jesus was based on the crucifixion of the Teacher of Righteousness in the scrolls.[141]

Mark Hall writes that Allegro suggested the Dead Sea Scrolls all but proved that a historical Jesus never existed.[142] Philip Jenkins writes that Allegro was an eccentric scholar who relied on texts that did not exist in quite the form he was citing them, and calls the Sacred Mushroom and the Cross "possibly the single most ludicrous book on Jesus scholarship by a qualified academic".[143] Based on the reaction to the book, Allegro's publisher apologized for issuing the book and Allegro was forced to resign his academic post.[139][144] A 2006 article discussing Allegro's work called for his theories to be re-evaluated by the mainstream.[145] 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.[146]

Alvar Ellegård[edit]

Alvar Ellegård (1919–2008) was a professor of English at the University of Gothenburg who in his book Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ argued that Apostle Paul and other early Christians viewed Jesus as a great prophet who had lived in the distant past, not a contemporary figure who was crucified during their own era.[147] Ellegard argued that neither Paul nor any of his contemporaries had seen Jesus, but only imagined him as a heavenly figure who had lived long ago.[147] Ellegard believed that Paul had a vision and that Paul's experience during the vision suggested to him that Jesus had been resurrected and that the vision signaled the day of judgement.[147] Ellegård's argument pivots on the gospels having been written in the second century, and he argued that in the second century the authors of the gospels confused Paul's visions for real events, and dated them to the time of Pontius Pilate.[147] However, Ellegård states that the theory he presents is not the only possible scenario and agrees that other scholars date the events differently.

Ellegård agrees with other scholars that some of the letters of Paul are genuine and that they present the earliest Christian writings.[148] Ellegård states that Paul may have met Apostle Peter in Jerusalem, but that Peter did not tell Paul about Jesus, and it was Paul who constructed the story of the crucifixion based on supernatural knowledge Paul believed he had received in his own visions.[148] Ellegård writes that his position differs from that of Drews and Couchoud, and he develops arguments similar to those of Dupont-Sommer and John Allegro, and suggests that Paul's Jesus may have been based on the Teacher of Righteousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but he states that this was not the Jesus of the gospels.[149][150]

G. A. Wells[edit]

Graham Stanton wrote in 2002 that the most thoroughgoing and sophisticated of the proponents' arguments were set out by George Albert Wells (born 1926), emeritus professor of German at Birkbeck College, London, and author of 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).[151] British theologian Kenneth Grayston advised Christians to acknowledge the difficulties raised by Wells, but Alvar Ellegård writes that his views remain largely undiscussed by theologians.[149]

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.[152] 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".[153]

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.[154] Biblical scholar Robert Van Voorst said that with this argument Wells had performed an about-face[155] while Doherty presented it as another example of the view that the Gospel Jesus did not exist;[156] 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,[157] and Eddy-Boyd presented it as an example of a Christ myth theory book.[158]

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.[159] He argues, for example, that the story of the execution of Jesus under Pilate is not an historical account.[160] 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."[161]

Alvin Boyd Kuhn[edit]

American author Dr. Alvin Boyd Kuhn

After teaching school for 25 years, Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880–1963) obtained his PhD from Columbia University in 1931. Over the next 30 years, he opened 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.[162]

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.

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.[163]

Francesco Carotta[edit]

Italian writer Francesco Carotta, in his book Jesus was Caesar,[164] has identified parallels between the New Testament and the written accounts of the Roman Civil War between Julius Caesar and Rome.[165] For almost every episode which appears in the Gospels Carotta has identified similarities to not only the events, but also to the names of the actors in the events making apparent an almost verbatim transcription.[citation needed] Granted that Plutarch wrote around 100-120 CE while the first Gospel of Mark was written around 70 CE, there is substantial scholarly agreement that there was an oral tradition prior to both.[citation needed] Carotta argues that this substantial oral history tradition served as sources for both.[citation needed]

21st Century[edit]

In addition to the authors listed below, Christ myth critic Bart D. Ehrman considers the following individuals as responsible for the "best-known and most influential mythicist literature" in recent years: Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy, Harold Leidner, and Frank Zindler.[166] Other contemporary authors who support the theory include Joseph Atwill, Nigel Barber,[167] Tony Bushby, Nicholas Carter, Ian Curtis, Laurence E. Dalton, Shirley Strutton Dalton, David Fitzgerald, Milton L. Forbes, Alejandro Roque Glez, Ralph E. Harris, Kenneth Humphries, Dov Ivry, Malik H. Jabbar, Raphael Lataster,[168][169] Derek Murphy, James Lynn Page, Pier Tulip, and Barbara G. Walker.

In September 2014 the magazine The American Rationalist published an article enumerating almost 100 Christ mythicists.[170]

Thomas Brodie[edit]

Irish Dominican priest and theologian Thomas L. Brodie (born 1943) earned his PhD at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome in 1988. He taught Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament in the United States, South Africa and Ireland, and is a co-founder and former director of the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick. His bibliography includes scholarly works on subjects such as the Gospel of John, Genesis and the Elijah and Elisha narratives, and his publishers have included Oxford University Press and Sheffield Phoenix Press.

In 2012, Brodie published Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery. In it, he 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, leading to the conclusion that Jesus is mythical.[171] 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.[172] Brodie then views the Elijah–Elisha story as the underlying model for the gospel narratives.[172] Brodie draws his conclusions from two branches of literary studies: "First, researchers were recognizing that many biblical texts are rewritings or transformations of older texts that still exist, thus giving a clearer sense of where the biblical texts came from; and second, studies in the ancient art of composition clarified the biblical texts' unity and purpose, that is to say, where biblical texts were headed." [173]

In early 2013, it was reported that Brodie had been forced to resign his teaching job and banned from writing and lecturing while under investigation for disputed teaching. Soon after, the Dominican order denied the story and insisted 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.[174] The institute's website indicates the investigation is ongoing.[175]

Richard Carrier[edit]

American author Dr. Richard Carrier

Richard Carrier (born 1969) is a New Atheism activist and proponent of the Jesus myth theory. He obtained a PhD in ancient history from Columbia University (2008) and has authored several books including Sense and Goodness without God (2005), Why I Am Not a Christian (2011) and Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus (2012). His bibliography also includes chapters and articles in other published books and magazines dating back to 1999.

Carrier rose to prominence when he was featured in the documentary The God Who Wasn't There. He was a member of the short-lived Jesus Project from 2008 to 2009. For several years, he served as editor-in-chief for Internet Infidels (Secular Web), and he currently blogs for websites such as The God Contention and FreethoughtBlogs. Carrier's scathing review of Bart D. Ehrman's book Did Jesus Exist in 2012 resulted in lengthy responses and counter-responses on the Internet.[2]

In 2014, Carrier released a book, On the Historicity of Jesus, where he attempted to compute a probabilistic estimate that Jesus was a historical figure given the available historical evidence. Carrier assessed this probability as being no greater than 1/3 and concluded that it is more likely that the earliest Christians were not inspired by a real person named Jesus but instead considered Jesus to be a celestial being known only through revelations.[176]

Richard Dawkins[edit]

British author and biologist Dr. Richard Dawkins writes that a serious case can be made that Jesus never existed and it should be more widely discussed.

In his 2006 bestseller The God Delusion, evolutionary biologist and former professor for the public understanding of science at Oxford University Richard Dawkins writes, "reputable biblical scholars do not in general regard the New Testament (and obviously not the Old Testament) as reliable record of what actually happened in history." According to Dawkins, the gospels were authored long after Jesus' death by unknown evangelists who "almost certainly never met him", and then were copied and recopied by "fallible scribes" with their own religious agendas. Drawing on biblical criticisms by Robin Lane Fox and others, Dawkins lists the "glaring contradictions" of the gospels, particularly the events in the nativity story, explaining that while some of the New Testament was written to fulfil prophesies of the Old Testament in order to convert Jews to Christianity, much was borrowed from ancient religions to appeal to pagan or Gentile audiences. According to Dawkins, "the four Gospels that made it into the official canon were chosen, more or less arbitrarily, out of a larger sample of at least a dozen". He speculates that the others were likely omitted because they "included stories that were even more embarrassingly implausible" than the four we know today." [177]

As for a historical Jesus, Dawkins wrote "It is even possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported, historical case that Jesus never lived at all". Despite his noted inaccuracies and discrepancies in the gospels, he stated in the 2006 book that Jesus "probably existed",[177] but did not offer any explanation or evidence. In an interview in 2012, Dawkins stated that "the evidence (Jesus) existed is surprisingly shaky." [178]

Using the modern John Frum cargo cult in South Pacific Islands as an example of how quickly a myth can become perceived reality among religious followers, Dawkins states:

Unlike the cult of Jesus, the origins of which are not reliably attested, we can see the whole course of events laid out before our eyes (and even here, as we shall see, some details are now lost). It is fascinating to guess that the cult of Christianity almost certainly began in very much the same way, and spread initially at the same high speed. (...) John Frum, if he existed at all, did so within living memory. Yet, even for so recent a possibility, it is not certain whether he lived at all.[179]

Earl Doherty[edit]

Canadian writer Earl Doherty (B.A. in Ancient History and Classical Languages) 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."[180][181] He 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.

Doherty writes that none of the major apologists before the year 180, except for Justin and Aristides of Athens, included an account of a historical Jesus in their defenses of Christianity. Instead 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 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.[182]

Tom Harpur[edit]

Canadian author Tom Harpur (photo by Hugh Wesley)

Former Anglican priest, Canadian New Testament professor and journalist Tom Harpur (born 1929) wrote his controversial bestseller The Pagan Christ in 2004.

Presenting the case that the gospels re-work ancient pagan myths, Harpur builds on research from lesser-known authors such as Alvin Boyd Kuhn when listing similarities among the stories of Jesus, Horus, Mithras, Buddha and others. 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. Having come to see the scriptures as symbolic allegory of a cosmic truth rather than as inconsistent history, Harpur concludes he has a greater internal connection with the spirit of Christ.[183]

The book received a great deal of criticism, including a response book, Unmasking the Pagan Christ: An Evangelical Response to the Cosmic Christ Idea, and even a negative review from fellow mythicist Robert M. Price.[184] However, The Pagan Christ became Canada's top-selling book of 2004,[citation needed] received mostly favourable reviews,[citation needed] was translated into six languages,[citation needed] and became the subject of an award-winning CBC documentary. Harpur published a more scholarly sequel called Water Into Wine in 2007.

Christopher Hitchens[edit]

British-American author and journalist Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011) was one of the most out-spoken atheists of his time. In his 2007 international bestseller God Is Not Great he stated there is "little or no evidence for the life of Jesus," arguing "the gospels are most certainly not literal truth," its multiple authors "cannot agree on anything of importance," and the "contradictions and illiteracies of the New Testament have filled up many books by eminent scholars." [185] He appeared more emphatic when speaking to a bookstore audience in Washington D.C. in 2007 when he said, "Jesus of Nazareth is not a figure in history ... there is no firm evidence that he existed." When asked if he really believed that Jesus never lived, however, he more carefully responded, "No, I said there is no reason to believe that he did."[186]

Although he repeated in his writings and public appearances that there is no reason to believe that Jesus of Nazareth existed as we understand him in the Bible, he did concede the possibility that a charismatic rabbi in Palestine who believed he was the son of God may have become the inspiration for gospel stories written many decades later. To Hitchens, the best argument for the "highly questionable existence of Jesus" are the biblical inconsistencies themselves, explaining the "very attempts to bend and stretch the story may be inverse proof that someone of later significance was indeed born." [185] In other words, the Bible may have been more consistent if the writers had created a fictional character from scratch. At a 2008 debate in Las Vegas,[187] he used the same logic when he said, "It’s impressive to me that the evidence is so thin and ... so obviously, strenuously cobbled together because it suggests that there was something going on, there was some character." Hitchens used Jesus' birth legend as an example of biblical inaccuracy, stating, "None of the story of the nativity is true in any detail and not one of the gospels agrees with each other on this fabrication." Explaining he did not want to be so profane as to tell believers that there was nothing there, Hitchens concluded that the attempted fraud of the gospels "may have worked on stupefied peasants in the Greater Jerusalem area, but really should have no power to influence anyone in this room." [187]

On the subject of a mythical Jesus, a number of sources attribute the quote "Jesus is Santa Claus for adults"' to Hitchens in God is not Great, but those words do not appear in that book.

Alexander Jacob[edit]

Born in India, Alexander Jacob is an academic, author and translator who received his PhD from the Pennsylvania State University in History of Ideas, and later worked at York University and conducted research at the University of Toronto. Among other themes, he 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). Today he is a leading scholar in the study of the ancient Indo-European religions and has found major similarities among them. He has documented many themes, especially in ancient Egyptian religion which appear later in Judaism and Christianity.

Jacob's work strongly supports the thesis 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). His 2012 book, Brahman: A Study of the Solar Rituals of the Indo-Europeans provides an overview of his conclusions about the common, solar, cosmological and philosophical orientations of the ancient religions of Sumer, Egypt and India. A key passage states: “As for the Christian cult, the fact that it too was derived from the Indo-European cosmogonical notions and dates back, like the Kabbalah, to the time of the Babylonian exile, is clear from the extraordinary story of the death and resurrection of the Christ himself, since this can only be a historicisation of the cosmic drama of the descent of the solar force (Osiris) into the underworld and its later emergence as the sun (Horus) of our solar system." According to Jacob, another proof of the mythological basis of the Christ story is the employment of a “carpenter” as the father of Jesus, since this figure corresponds exactly to the creative force Tvashtr of the cosmic man, Parusha, since the name Tvashtr also signifies a carpenter. Jacob writes, "The translation of the cosmological myth of Jesus, which is the same as that of Helios/Brahman, as a historical tale set in Roman times in Judaea, is the work perhaps of Jews who called themselves the 'disciples' of Jesus, and of Paul, who wished to make the Christian cult an international Jewish one by adding a final chapter to the Jewish history of the Old Testament.” [188]

Dorothy M. Murdock / Acharya S[edit]

D. M. Murdock (also a B.A. in Classics), under the pen name "Acharya S", revives the early 19th century theories of Godfrey Higgins and Robert Taylor, and maintains that the canonical gospels represent a middle to late 2nd century creation utilizing Old Testament "prophetic" scriptures as a blueprint, in combination with a collage of other, older Pagan and Jewish concepts, and that Christianity was thereby fabricated in order to compete with the other popular religions of the time. Her views have been challenged by other mythicists such as Richard Carrier.

Acharya has also been criticized by mainstream academics for concluding that Jesus' crucifixion by Roman authorities is a repetition of Krishna being shot in the foot by a hunter or Odysseus tying himself to his ship mast to hear the sirens' song, and generally overreaching and relying on outdated scholarship.[189]

Robert M. Price[edit]

Robert Price at a microphone
American New Testament scholar Dr. Robert M. Price argues we will never know whether Jesus existed, unless someone discovers his diary or skeleton.[190]

American New Testament scholar Robert McNair Price (born 1954) questions 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). Born in Mississippi, he holds a Master in Theological Studies (1978), a PhD in Systematic Theology (1981) and a PhD in New Testament. Having taught religious studies in North Carolina and New Jersey and acted as editor of The Journal of Higher Criticism, he is currently the Professor of Biblical Criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute. Price was also a fellow of the Jesus Seminar, a group of writers and scholars who study the historicity of Jesus, arguing that the Christian image of Christ is a theological construct into which traces of Jesus of Nazareth have been woven,[191] until it ended in 2006, as well as the short-lived Jesus Project from 2008 to 2009. A former Baptist pastor, Price writes that he was originally an apologist on the historical-Jesus question but became disillusioned with the arguments. As the years went on, he found it increasingly difficult to poke holes in the position that questioned Jesus's existence entirely. Despite this, he still took part in the Eucharist every week for several years, seeing the Christ of faith as all the more important because, he argued, there was probably never any other.[192] According to his website, he now attends an Episcopal Church in North Carolina where he "keeps (his) mouth shut." [193]

Price believes that Christianity is a historicized synthesis of mainly Egyptian, Jewish, and Greek mythologies.[194] He writes that everyone who espouses the Christ myth theory bases their arguments on three key points:

  • 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, he 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.[195] He 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."[190]

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).[196][197]

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."[198] In a discussion on euhemerism, Price cautiously asserts that "a genuine historical figure" may ultimately lie at the root of the Christian religion.[199] 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."[200] 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."[201]

Price acknowledges that he stands against the majority view of scholars, but cautions against attempting to settle the issue by appeal to the majority.[202]

René Salm[edit]

In 2008, René Salm wrote a controversial book The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus which attempts to show that archaeologically the town of Nazareth came into existence after the time that Jesus should have been living there.[203] In his book, he makes 3 key assertions in his case against the existence of Nazareth during Jesus' time: A. The material finds reveal the following: (1) the lack of demonstrable material evidence from ca. 700 BCE to ca. 100 CE; (2) the 25 CE + dating of the earliest oil lamps at Nazareth; (3) the 50 CE + dating of all the post-Iron Age tombs at Nazareth, which are of the kokh type;[204] On his personal website, Salm links to his two blogs: "The Truth about Nazareth" and "The Mythicist Papers", the latter a resource regarding the origins of Christianity.

Salm's claim that Nazareth did not exist has been criticized on the grounds that some elements dating to an appropriate era have been found, that Salm claims with too much certainty that certain items are from the doubtful edges of their latest possible dates (ignoring the plausible earlier dates), and that he makes the mistake of looking for artifacts relating to Nazareth in pious mislocations by later pilgrims rather than places where Nazareth could have been.[205]

Thomas L. Thompson[edit]

American-born biblical scholar and theologian Thomas L. Thompson (born 1939) is Professor emeritus at the University of Copenhagen since 2009. He is now a Danish citizen associated with The Copenhagen School movement of biblical minimalism and 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.[206] He was invited to finish his degree at Temple University in Philadelphia where he received his PhD summa cum laude.

In 2007, Thompson wrote The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David (2005 Basic Book Perseus Books). This scholarly work methodically 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,[207] 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.

In 2012, as part of the Copenhagen International Seminar series, Thompson and Rutgers student Thomas S. Verenna edited a collection of essays entitled Is This Not the Carpenter?: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus (book's introduction available at Contributors include Jim West, Roland Boer, Lester L. Grabbe, Niels Peter Lemche, Emanuel Pfoh, Mogens Müller, James G. Crossley, Ingrid Hjelm, Joshua Sabih, Kurt Noll, and Robert M. Price. Some argue for the historicity of Jesus (e.g., Grabbe and Müller), others argue for the non-historicity of Jesus (e.g., Noll and Price), and some do not try to make an argument one way or the other (e.g., Thompson and Verenna). Thomas Bolin of St. Norbert College comments that the volume is "an important milestone in the debate concerning mythicism in New Testament scholarship."[208] Philip R. Davies, Professor emeritus of biblical studies at the University of Sheffield, applauded the effort writing "the rather fragile historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth should be tested to see what weight it can bear," criticizing scholars like Ehrman who write from certainty with dismissive language and ad hominem attacks against anyone who raises the question of Jesus' existence, and concluding that "recognition that his existence is not entirely certain would nudge Jesus scholarship towards academic respectability."[14]


Main article: Historicity of Jesus

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.

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,[18] 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.[15][16][17]

Nevertheless, Christ Myth theories find relatively little support from scholars. According to Bart D. Ehrman (a former Evangelical Christian turned agnostic who has written extensively about the questionable accuracy and authorship of the gospels), 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.[209]

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

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.[210]

Maurice Casey likewise notes 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".[211]

Writing in 1977, classical historian Michael Grant said the Christ-myth theory "has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars'. In recent years 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus'—or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary."[212]


The following Wikipedia articles relate to books which support aspects of the Christ myth theory:


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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."
  2. ^ "Jesus Outside the New Testament" Robert E. Van Voorst, 2000, p=8-9
  3. ^ Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion. p. 122. ISBN 1-4303-1230-0. 
  4. ^ God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens, 2007, Chapter 8
  5. ^ "The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David" Thomas L. Thompson Basic Book Perseus Books' 2005
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34
  8. ^ Jesus by Michael Grant 2004 ISBN 1898799881 page 200
  9. ^ The Gospels and Jesus by Graham Stanton, 1989 ISBN 0192132415 Oxford University Press, page 145
  10. ^ Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence Eerdmans Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 16
  11. ^ Did Jesus Exist?:The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins, USA. 2012. ISBN 978-0-06-220460-8. 
  12. ^ B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ a b Davies' article Does Jesus Exist? at
  15. ^ 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".
  16. ^ a b Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus by William R. Herzog (4 Jul 2005) ISBN 0664225284 pages 1-6
  17. ^ a b Crossan, John Dominic (1995). Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne. p. 145. ISBN 0-06-061662-8. That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus ... agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact. 
  18. ^ a b Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell 1998 ISBN 0-664-25703-8 pages 168–173
  19. ^ Van Voorst, 2000, p=8-9
  20. ^ Dawkins, 2006, p. 96
  21. ^ Dawkins, 2006, p. 99
  22. ^ Who Chose the Gospels?: Probing the Great Gospel Conspiracy, by C. E. Hill, Oxford UP, 30 Sep 2010. pp. 164-165
  23. ^ a b c The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, by Gary R. Habermas, College Press, 1996. p.31-35
  24. ^ C.E. Hill, p.170
  25. ^ Harpur, 2006, p. 174
  26. ^ Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus by William R. Herzog (4 Jul 2005) ISBN 0664225284 pages 1-6
  27. ^ Ehrman, 2009
  28. ^ Bart D. Ehrman. Did Jesus Exist?:The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, HarperCollins, USA, 2012, p.47 ISBN 978-0-06-220460-8
  29. ^ Gerald O'Collins, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. 2009, pp. 1-3 ISBN 0-19-955787-X
  30. ^ Peder Borgen, Philo of Alexandria.1997, p. 14ISBN 9004103880
  31. ^ Allan, William (2014). Classical Literature: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0199665457. 
  32. ^ Ehrman, 2012, p.44
  33. ^ Timothy Barnes Pagan Perceptions of Christianity" in Early Christianity: Origins and Evolution to Ad 600. 1991, p. 232 ISBN 0687114446
  34. ^ Kennneth A. Olson, Eusebius and the Testimonium Flavianum. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 61 (2): 305, 1999
  35. ^ Eddy, Paul; Boyd, Gregory (2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. P. 129 ISBN 0-8010-3114-1
  36. ^ Robert M. Price. The Christ Myth Theory and it's Problems, Atheist Press, 2011, p.132, ISBN 9781578840175
  37. ^ Harry Elmer Barnes. The Twilight of Christianity. New York: Richard R. Smith, Inc., 1931. ISBN 0877000379
  38. ^ Guignebert, Charles (1956). Jesus. New York: University Books. p. 13. 
  39. ^ Lester L. Grabbe, "Jesus Who is Called Christ": References to Jesus Outside Christian Sources", Chapter 3 in Thompson and Verenna, Is This Not the Carpenter?: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus
  40. ^ Erik Hornung. The Secret Lore of Egypt and its Impact on the West, Cornell University Press, 2001, p.73 ISBN 0801438470
  41. ^ John M. Robertson. Christianity and Mythology, Watts & Co., London, 2001, p.73 ISBN 0766187683
  42. ^ 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
  43. ^ Arthur Drews. The Christ Myth, 1909
  44. ^ Robert M. Price.The Christ Myth Theory and it's Problems 2011, p.132, ISBN 9781578840175
  45. ^ Zacharias P. Thundy. Buddha and Christ: Nativity Stories and Indian Traditions, Brill Academic Pub, 1993, pp.80-81 ISBN 9004097414
  46. ^ Nigel Leask. British Romantic Writers and the East Cambridge Univ Press, 2004' pp.104-105 ISBN 0521604443
  47. ^ a b Ehrman, 2013, p. 208
  48. ^ a b c The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, by Craig S. Keener, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2012. p.336
  49. ^ Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?, by Maurice Casey, A&C Black, 16 Jan 2014. p. 155
  50. ^ Jesus and His Contemporaries: Comparative Studies, by Craig A. Evans, BRILL, 1 Jul 2001. p.48
  51. ^ a b Casey, 150
  52. ^ Price, 2011, p.425
  53. ^ a b What Is Christianity?: An Introduction to the Christian Religion, by Gail Ramshaw, Fortress Press, 1 Jul 2013. pp. 52-54
  54. ^ a b God and Caesar: Troeltsch's Social Teaching as Legitimation, by Constance L. Benson, Transaction Publishers. p.55
  55. ^ The Heroic Ideal: Western Archetypes from the Greeks to the Present, by M. Gregory Kendrick, McFarland, 25 May 2010. p.43
  56. ^ Dawkins, 2006, p. 97
  57. ^ Thomas L. Brodie. Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2012 ISBN 978-1907534584
  58. ^ Price, 2011, p. 381
  59. ^ *Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method, by Sidney Greidanus, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999.
    • The Old Testament and the Significance of Jesus: Embracing Change--maintaining Christian Identity : the Emerging Center in Biblical Scholarship, by Fredrick Carlson Holmgren, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1 Jan 1999.
    • The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament, by Edmund P. Clowney, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, 1 Jul 1991.
    • Four Portraits of Jesus: Studies in the Gospels and Their Old Testament Background, by Elizabeth E. Platt, Paulist Press, 2004
    • The Great Argument, Or, Jesus Christ in the Old Testament; by William H. Thomson, Harper and Brothers, 1884.
    -- all en passim.
  60. ^ a b Weaver 1999, p. 45-50.
  61. ^ Schweitzer 2001, p. 355ff.
  62. ^ Voorst 2000, p. 8.
  63. ^ a b c Wells 1969.
  64. ^ British Romantic Writers and the East by Nigel Leask (Jun 24, 2004) ISBN 0521604443 Cambridge Univ Press pages 104 -105
  65. ^ By Tristram Stuart, "The Bloodless Revolution", p. 591.
  66. ^ a b Stephen Prickett in the Companion Encyclopedia of Theology edited by Peter Byrne, Leslie Houlden (Dec 4, 1995) ISBN 0415064473 page 154-155
  67. ^ The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined by David Friedrich Strauss 2010 ISBN 1-61640-309-8 pages 39–43 and 87–91
  68. ^ The Making of the New Spirituality by James A. Herrick 2003 ISBN 0-8308-2398-0 pages 58–65
  69. ^ Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth by Michael J. McClymond (Mar 22, 2004) ISBN 0802826806 page 82
  70. ^ The historical Jesus question by Gregory W. Dawes 2001 ISBN 0-664-22458-X pages 77–79
  71. ^ See Douglas R McGaughey, "On D.F. Strauß and the 1839 Revolution in Zurich"
  72. ^ 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 pages 7-11
  73. ^ 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.
  74. ^ Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Fortress, 2001; first published 1913, pp. 124–128, 139–141.
  75. ^ 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.
  76. ^ In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images by Clinton Bennett (Dec 1, 2001) ISBN 0826449166 Continuum page 204
  77. ^ Tom Harpur, 2004, p. 30
  78. ^ Tom Harpur, 2004, p. 59
  79. ^ a b Tom Harpur, 2004, p. 200
  80. ^ Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier (2003)
  81. ^ Tom Harpur, 2004, The Pagan Christ
  82. ^ Harpur's response to Porter and Gasque
  83. ^ 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
  84. ^ a b Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Fortress, 2001; first published 1913, pp. 356–361, 527 n. 4.
  85. ^ Arthur Drew, 1926, The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present
  86. ^ Arvidsson, Stefan. Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science. University of Chicago Press, 2006, pp. 116–117.
  87. ^ Klausner, Joseph. Jesus of Nazareth. Bloch, 1989; first published 1925, pp. 105–106.
  88. ^ In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images by Clinton Bennett (Dec 1, 2001) ISBN 0826449166 Continuum page 205
  89. ^ Deconstructing Jesus by Robert M. Price (2000) ISBN 1573927589 page 207
  90. ^ Russell, Bertrand. "Why I am not a Christian", lecture to the National Secular Society, Battersea Town Hall, March 6, 1927, Retrieved 2010-08-02.
  91. ^ Harpur, 2004, p. 163
  92. ^ A Timeline of Jesus Mythicism
  93. ^ 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
  94. ^ J.M. Robertson, 1856-1933 by G.A. Wells (1 Jan 1987) ISBN 0301870020 pages 162-163
  95. ^ Christianity And Mythology by John M. Robertson London: Watts 1900 ISBN 0766187683 (reprinted by Kessinger 2004) page 34
  96. ^ A Short History of Christianity by John M. Robertson 1902 London: Watts ISBN 0766189090 (reprinted by Kessinger 2004) page 72
  97. ^ Robertson, J. M. A Short History of Christianity. Watts, 1902, pp. 6–12, 14–15.
  98. ^ A Short History of Christianity by John M. Robertson 1902 London: Watts ISBN 0766189090 (reprinted by Kessinger 2004) page 18
  99. ^ J.M. Robertson, 1856-1933 by G.A. Wells (1 Jan 1987) ISBN 0301870020 page 149
  100. ^ Brown, Marshall G.; Gordon Stein (1978). Freethought in the United States: A Descriptive Bibliography. Published by Greenwood Press, University of California. p. 52. ISBN 0-313-20036-X. 
  101. ^ The Christ by John Remsburg 1909, Chapter 1: "Christ's Real Existence Impossible"
  102. ^ The Christ Myth by John Remsburg 1909, Chapter 2: "Silence of Contemporary Writers"
  103. ^ Holding, James Patrick (2008). Shattering the Christ Myth. Xulon Press. p. 52. ISBN 1-60647-271-2. 
  104. ^ Hotema, Hilton (1956). Cosmic Creation. Health Research. p. 178. ISBN 0-7873-0999-0. 
  105. ^ King, Jawara D. (2007). World Transformation: A Guide to Personal Growth and Consciousness. AuthorHouse. p. 35. ISBN 1-4343-2115-0. 
  106. ^ O'Hair, Madalyn Murray (1969). What on earth is an atheist!. Austin, Texas: American Atheist Press. p. 246. ISBN 1-57884-918-7. 
  107. ^ Norman, Asher; Tellis, Ashley (2007). Twenty-six reasons why Jews don't believe in Jesus. Black White and Read Publishing. p. 182. ISBN 0-9771937-0-5. 
  108. ^ Murdock, D. M. and Price, Robert M. (2011). Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ. Seattle: Stellar House. p. 296. ISBN 978-0979963100. 
  109. ^ Zindler, Frank (2003). The Jesus the Jews Never Knew. Cranford: American Atheist Press. p. 524. ISBN 1-57884-916-0. 
  110. ^ Leedom, Tim (2007). The Book Your Church Doesn't Want You to Read. New York: Cambridge House Press. p. 446. ISBN 0939040158. 
  111. ^ Paulkovich, Michael (2014). "The Fable of the Christ". Free Inquiry 34 (5): 56. 
  112. ^ Paulkovich, Michael (2012), No Meek Messiah, Spillix Publishing, pp. 330–355, ISBN 0988216116 
  113. ^ a b Voorst 2000, p. 11.
  114. ^ a b c The historical Jesus in the twentieth century, 1900–1950 by Walter P. Weaver, 1999 ISBN Continuum Publishing Group, 1999, pages 54-56
  115. ^ Smith, William Benjamin. Der vorchristliche Jesu. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2010; first published 1906.
    • Also see Smith, William Benjamin. Ecce Deus: Die urchristliche Lehre des reingöttlichen Jesu. Diederichs, 1911; first published 1894.
    • Smith, William Benjamin. The Birth of the Gospel, 1911.
  116. ^ Case, Shirley Jackson. "The Historicity of Jesus: An Estimate of the Negative Argument", The American Journal of Theology, volume 15, issue 1, 1911.
  117. ^ Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Fortress, 2001; first published 1913, p. 375ff.
  118. ^ The historical Jesus in the twentieth century, 1900–1950 by Walter P. Weaver 1999 ISBN 1-56338-280-6 page 49–51
  119. ^ Drews' book was reviewed by A. Kampmeier in The Monist, volume 21, Number 3 (July 1911), pages 412–432. [1]
  120. ^ 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.
  121. ^ Berdyaev, Nikolai, "The Scientific Discipline of Religion and Christian Apologetics", Put' / Путь vol. 6, 1927
  122. ^ 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.
  123. ^ "Jesus never lived, asserts Prof. Drews", The New York Times, February 6, 1910.
  124. ^ Thrower, James. Marxist-Leninist "Scientific Atheism" and the Study of Religion and Atheism. Walter de Gruyter, 1983, p. 426.
  125. ^ Nikiforov, Vladimir. "Russian Christianity" in Leslie Houlden (ed.) Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2003, p. 749.
  126. ^ Peris, Daniel. Storming the Heavens. Cornell University Press, 1998, p. 178.
  127. ^ However Drews was a believer, and a religious activist who wanted to replace obsolete Christianity with a truer, modern form of religion based on his monistic Idealism. The acceptance of his ideas in Moscow and the Soviet Union did not save Drews, a believer, from Lenin's attacks, for being a "reactionary, openly helping the exploiters to replace old and rotten prejudices with new, still more disgusting and base prejudices". In Edyth C. Haber, "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.
  128. ^ a b c d The historical Jesus in the twentieth century, 1900–1950 by Walter P. Weaver, 1999 ISBN Continuum Publishing Group, 1999, pages 300-303
  129. ^ See, for example, Couchoud, Paul Louis. Enigma of Jesus, translated by Winifred Stephens Whale, Watts & co., 1924.
  130. ^ The Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus by Craig A. Evans (Apr 3, 2008) ISBN 0415975697 page 231
  131. ^ Bolland, G. J. P. J. De Evangelische Jozua, 1907.
  132. ^ Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers by Stuart Brown, Diane Collinson and Robert Wilkinson (Oct 13, 2002) entry for "Gerardus Bolland" ISBN 0415286050 Routledge
  133. ^ G. R. S. Mead and the Gnostic Quest by Clare Goodrick-Clarke (Aug 10, 2005) ISBN 155643572X pages 1-3
  134. ^ Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.? by G. R. S. Mead (1903) ISBN 1596053763 (Cosimo Classics 2005) pages 10-12
  135. ^ Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? by Tom Harpur (2006) ISBN 0802777414 p 163
  136. ^ 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.
  137. ^ John Allegro, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross 1970 ISBN 978-0-9825562-7-6
  138. ^ John Allegro The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth 1979 ISBN 978-0-879-75757-1
  139. ^ 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
  140. ^ The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea by Joan E. Taylor (Dec 14, 2012) ISBN 019955448X Oxford University Press p. 305
  141. ^ 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
  142. ^ Hall, Mark. "Foreword," in Allegro, John M. The Dead Sea Scrolls & the Christian Myth. Prometheus 1992, first published 1979, p. ix.
  143. ^ Jenkins, Philip. Hidden Gospels. Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 180.
  144. ^ A History of the Middle East by Saul S. Friedman (Mar 15, 2006) ISBN 0786423560 page 82
  145. ^ Hoffman, Michael., ed. by Dr. Robert Price., "Wasson and Allegro on the Tree of Knowledge as Amanita" in Journal of Higher Criticism, 2006.
  146. ^ The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, 40th anniversary edition by John M. Allegro, Gnostic Media, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9825562-7-6
  147. ^ a b c d Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ by Alvar Ellegård 1999 ISBN 0879517204 pages 1-4
  148. ^ a b Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ by Alvar Ellegård 1999 ISBN 0879517204 pages 13-15
  149. ^ a b Ellegård, Alvar. "Theologians as historians", Scandia, 2008, p. 171–172, 175ff.
  150. ^ Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ by Alvar Ellegård 1999 ISBN 0879517204 pages 108-111
  151. ^ Stanton, Graham. The Gospels and Jesus. Oxford University Press, 2002; first published 1989, p. 143.
  152. ^ Martin, Michael. The Case Against Christianity. Temple University Press, 1993, p. 38.
  153. ^ Wells, GA (September 1999). "Earliest Christianity". New Humanist 114 (3): 13–18. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  154. ^ Wells, G. A. The Jesus Myth. Open Court, 1999.
  155. ^ Van Voorst, Robert E. "Nonexistence Hypothesis", in James Leslie Holden (ed.) Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2003, p. 660.
  156. ^ Doherty, Earl (1999). "Book and Article Reviews, The Case of the Jesus Myth: Jesus — One Hundred Years Before Christ by Alvar Ellegard". Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  157. ^ Carrier, Richard (2006). Did Jesus Even Exist? Stanford University presentation. May 30, 2006.
  158. ^ Eddy and Boyd (2007), The Jesus Legend, p. 24.
  159. ^ 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.
  160. ^ Wells, G.A. in Tom Flynn. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Prometheus Books, 2007, p. 446ff.
  161. ^ 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.
  162. ^ Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Ph.D. A Biographical Sketch of his life and work, by Richard Alvin Sattelberg, B.A., M.S.., 2005
  163. ^ "The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light" by Tom Harpur, Thomas Allen Publishers, Toronto, 2004, ISBN 0-88762-145-7
  164. ^
  165. ^ "Jesus Was Caesar" by Francesco Carotta, 2005, Uitgeverij Aspekt b.v., Soesterberg, The Nederlands or Kirchzarten, Germany
  166. ^ Ehrman, 2013, Bibliography
  167. ^ Barber, Nigel (2014). "If Jesus Never Existed, Religion May Be Fiction". Huffington Post (December 19). Retrieved Dec 19, 2014. 
  168. ^ Raphael Lataster academic staff profile at the University of Sydney
  169. ^ Did historical Jesus really exist? The evidence just doesn’t add up.
  170. ^ Paulkovich, Michael (2014). = "The Fable of the Christ". 'The American Rationalist (September/October): 6. 
  171. ^ Thomas L. Brodie "Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery" Sheffield Phoenix Press (September 6, 2012) ISBN 978-1907534584
  172. ^ 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
  173. ^ "Richard Carrier Recommends: Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery: Product Description"., Inc. Retrieved 2013-12-25. 
  174. ^ The Limerick Reader. "Priest was not ‘forced to quit’ teaching job over controversial book on Christ" by Mike Dwayne, January 25, 2013
  175. ^ Dominican Biblical Institute website accessed March 15, 2014
  176. ^
  177. ^ a b Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion. p. 122. ISBN 1-4303-1230-0. 
  178. ^ Playboy Interview; Richard Dawkins by Chip Rowe, August 20, 2012.
  179. ^ Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Houghton Mifflin, 2006, pp. 202–203.
  180. ^ Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12,
  181. ^ Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, by Earl Doherty, pp. vii-viii),
  182. ^ Doherty, Earl. "The Jesus Puzzle", Journal of Higher Criticism, volume 4, issue 2, 1997.
  183. ^ Tom Harpur, The Pagan Christ (Toronto: Thomas Allen Publishers, 2004)
  184. ^ Price's review of 'The Pagan Vgrist'
  185. ^ a b God is Not Great Chapter 8, Christopher Hitchens, 2007
  186. ^ Fora.TV video of Hitchens at Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, DC, May 10, 2007 00:45:00
  187. ^ a b YouTube video of FreedomFest debate with Dinesh D'Souza, Las Vegas, July 11, 2008, 00:52:00
  188. ^ Brahman: A Study of the Solar Rituals of the Indo-Europeans by Alexander Jacob, Georg Olms Verlag, 2012, pp. 88-89
  189. ^ Casey, p.168
  190. ^ 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."
  191. ^ Van Biema, David; Ostling, Richard N.; and Towle, Lisa H. "The Gospel Truth?". Time magazine. April 8, 1996.
  192. ^ Price, Robert M. "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, pp. 55–56.
  193. ^
  194. ^ 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.
  195. ^ 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.
  196. ^ Irenaeus (c. 180 CE). Demonstration (74).
  197. ^ 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.
  198. ^ Price, Robert M. (2000). Deconstructing Jesus, pp. 15–16.
  199. ^ Price, Robert. Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus Books. p. 250. ISBN 1-57392-758-9. 
  200. ^ Price, Robert. Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus Books. p. 261. ISBN 1-57392-758-9. 
  201. ^ Price, Robert M. (2000). Deconstructing Jesus, p. 86.
  202. ^ 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.
  203. ^ Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth American Atheist Press (April 7, 2013)
  204. ^ Carrier Ph.D., Richard; D.M. Murdock; René Salm; Earl Doherty; David Fitzgerald (2013-04-07). Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth (Kindle Locations 8218-8227). American Atheist Press.
  205. ^ Casey, 170
  206. ^ Thompson's op-ed about critical scholarship on bible
  207. ^ Thompson's response to Bart Ehrman on
  208. ^ "Is This Not the Carpenter?: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus". Retrieved December 29, 2013. 
  209. ^ Ehrman 2012, p. 2.
  210. ^ "Did Jesus Exist?". Huffington Post. 
  211. ^ Casey, Maurice, Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian's Account of His Life and Teaching (T&T Clark, 2010), pp.33, 104 & 499.
  212. ^ Michael Grant (1977), Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels. Charles Scribner's Sons, p. 200.


Habermas, Gary; Licona, Michael (2004). The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Kregel Publications. 
Wells, G. A. (1969). "Stages of New Testament Criticism". Journal of the History of Ideas (JSTOR) 30 (2). 

Further reading[edit]

Books and papers

External links[edit]

  • 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