Christ myth theory
- For discussion of Jesus in a comparative mythological and religious context, see Jesus in comparative mythology, and for the body of myths associated with Christianity, see Christian mythology. For the scholarly study of the life of Jesus, see Historical Jesus, for analysis of information supporting the historical existence of Jesus, see Historicity of Jesus and Sources for the historicity of Jesus, and for the debate over the validity of stories in the New Testament, see Historical reliability of the Gospels.
|Christ myth theory|
|Description||Jesus of Nazareth never existed; or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels.|
Richard Carlile (1790-1843)
Bruno Bauer (1809–1882)
Edwin Johnson (1842-1901)
Dutch Radical School (1880-1950)
Albert Kalthoff (1850–1906)
W. B. Smith (1850–1934)
J. M. Robertson (1856–1933)
Thomas Whittaker (1856-1935)
Arthur Drews (1865–1935)
Paul-Louis Couchoud (1879-1959)
Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880–1963)
|Modern proponents||G. A. Wells, Tom Harpur, Michael Martin, Thomas L. Thompson, Thomas L. Brodie, Robert M. Price, Richard Carrier, Earl Doherty|
|Subjects||Historical Jesus, Early Christianity, Ancient history|
The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the hypothesis that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, or if he did exist, no meaningful historical verification is possible, and he may have had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels. The Christ myth theory contradicts the mainstream historical view, which concludes that Jesus was a Jewish religious reformer.
Variations of the Christ myth theory may be asserted by different proponents of the theory. Typically, one or more of the arguments used are derived from or directly taken from the threefold argument first developed in the 19th century by Bruno Bauer, who is credited as the first scholar to deny the existence of Jesus.
Some of the arguments commonly used by Christ myth theory proponents are:
- that there are no extant—eyewitness or contemporary—accounts of Jesus.
- that the New Testament has no evidential value.
- that no evidential conclusion is possible—for the existence of Jesus—that is also independent of the New Testament.
- that Jesus agnosticism is the only evidential conclusion possible.
- that Christianity had pagan or mythical roots and that the Biblical Jesus was the product of downward euhemerization—from a deity to a supernatural human.
The Christ Myth Theory is a fringe theory, but is accepted by a small number of academics, some of whom—in terms given by Robert M. Price—hold the "Jesus agnosticism" viewpoint, while others go further and hold the "Jesus atheism" viewpoint. Some scholars have made the case that there are a number of plausible "Jesuses" that could have existed, that there can be no certainty as to which Jesus was the historical Jesus.
Despite this there remains a strong consensus in historical-critical biblical scholarship that a historical Jesus did live in that area and in that time period. However, scholars differ on the historicity of specific episodes described in the Biblical accounts of Jesus. There are two events whose historicity receives "almost universal assent": that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.
- 1 18–19th centuries proponents
- 2 20th century proponents
- 3 21st century proponents
- 4 Pauline epistles
- 5 Criticism
- 6 Books
- 7 Documentaries
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Sources
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
18–19th centuries proponents
Volney and Dupuis
The beginnings of the formal denial of the existence of Jesus can be traced to late 18th-century France, and the works of Constantin François Chassebœuf de Volney and Charles-François Dupuis. Volney and Dupuis argued that Christianity was an amalgamation of various ancient mythologies and that Jesus was a totally mythical character.
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. 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.
Volney argued that Abraham and Sarah were derived from Brahma and his wife Saraswati, and that Christ was related to Krishna. 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.
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. Despite its short term setbacks, the work of Volney gathered significant following among British and American radical thinkers during the 19th century.
In 1835, German theologian David Friedrich Strauss published his extremely controversial The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined (Das Leben Jesu). While not denying that Jesus existed, he did argue that the miracles in the New Testament were mythical retellings of normal events as supernatural happenings. According to Strauss, the early church developed these miracle stories to present Jesus as a fulfillment of Jewish prophecies of what the Messiah would be like. This rationalist perspective was in direct opposition to the supernaturalist view that the bible was accurate both historically and spiritually.
The book caused an uproar across Europe. Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury called the 1846 translation by Marian Evans "the most pestilential book ever vomited out of the jaws of hell," 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.
German Bruno Bauer, who taught at the University of Bonn, took Strauss' arguments further and became the first author to systematically argue that Jesus did not exist. Bauer's writings presented the first use of the threefold argument used in much of myth theory in later years (but often rediscovered independently). Bauer's three-fold arguments are that:
- The gospels were written many decades or even a century after Jesus' estimated year of death, by individuals who likely never met Jesus, and then were edited or forged over the centuries by unknown scribes with their own agendas.
- There are no surviving historic records about Jesus of Nazareth from any non-Jewish author until the second century, and Jesus left no writings or other archaeological evidence.
- 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, Mithra/Mithras, Prometheus, Dionysus, Osiris, Buddha, and Krishna, as well as Christ-like historical figures like Apollonius of Tyana.
Bauer initially left open the question of whether a historical Jesus existed at all. 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. 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.
English gentleman Godfrey Higgins studied Greek, Latin and law at Cambridge before becoming a soldier, archaeologist and author. His two-volume, 867-page book Anacalypsis: An Enquiry into the Origins of Languages, Nations, and Religions, was published posthumously in 1836. In his treatise, Higgins claims, "the mythos of the Hindus, the mythos of the Jews and the mythos of the Greeks are all at bottom the same; and ... are contrivances under the appearance of histories to perpetuate doctrines," and that Christian editors “either from roguery or folly, corrupted them all.”
American Kersey Graves was a school teacher and author who wrote the 1875 book The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors. Using Higgins as his main source, Graves claims that Jesus did not exist, and instead was based on demigods from different countries who were either crucified or who ascended into heaven. He also claimed that many of these figures shared similar stories, traits or quotes as Jesus. The validity of the claims in the book have been greatly criticized by Christ myth proponents like Richard Carrier and largely dismissed by biblical scholars.
Starting in the 1870s, English poet and author Gerald Massey became interested in Egyptology and reportedly taught himself Egyptian hieroglyphics at the British Museum. 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, and despite criticisms from Stanley Porter and Ward Gasque, Massey's theories regarding Egyptian etymologies for certain scriptures are supported by noted contemporary Egyptologists.
Radical Dutch school
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. 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 a historical figure, but later said the core of the gospels was genuine. The group wrote in Dutch and focused mostly on the Old Testament. They had some notable followers, but by the early part of the 20th century they had faded out.
In addition to the authors listed on this page, early Christ myth proponents included Swiss skeptic Rudolf Steck., English historian Edwin Johnson, English radical Rev. Robert Taylor and his associate Richard Carlile.
20th century proponents
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. 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 Judaism. 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."
The work of social anthropologist Sir James George Frazer has had an influence on various myth theorists, although Frazer himself believed that Jesus existed. 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.
In 1900, Scottish MP John Mackinnon Robertson argued that Jesus never existed but was an invention by a first-century messianic cult. In Robertson's view, religious groups invent new gods to fit the needs of the society of the time. Robertson argued that a solar deity symbolized by the lamb and the ram had long been worshiped by an Israelite cult of Joshua and that this cult had then invented a new messianic figure, Jesus of Nazareth. Robertson argued that a possible source for the Christian myth may have been the Talmudic story of the executed Jesus Pandera which dates to 100 BCE. 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.
The English school master George Robert Stowe Mead took a somewhat different position when publishing his book Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.? in 1903. Mead argued that Jesus had existed, but that he had lived in 100 BCE. Mead based his argument on the Talmud, which he meant pointed to Jesus being crucified c. 100 BCE. In Mead's view, this would mean that the Christian gospels are mythical. Tom Harpur has compared Mead's impact on myth theory to that of Bruno Bauer and Arthur Drews. 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.
In 1909, school teacher John Eleazer Remsburg published The Christ (Retitled The Christ Myth in a 2007 NuVision Publications reprint) which made a distinction between a possible historical Jesus ("Jesus of Nazareth") and the Jesus of the Gospels ("Jesus of Bethlehem"). Remsburg's thought that there was good reason to believe that the historical Jesus existed, but that the "Christ of Christianity" was a mythological creation. Remsburg compiled a list of 42 names of "writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time" who Remsburg felt should have written about Jesus if the Gospels account was reasonably accurate but who did not. The Remsburg List was improved upon in an article in Free Inquiry magazine in August 2014, citing 126 writers shortly after Jesus whom the author thought should have written about Jesus, but did not. The supporting evidence was presented in the appendix to the author's book.
Also in 1909, German philosophy professor Christian Heinrich Arthur Drews wrote The Christ Myth to argue that Christianity had been a Jewish Gnostic cult that spread by appropriating aspects of Greek philosophy and life-death-rebirth deities. In later books (The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus (1912) and The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present (1926)) Drews reviewed the biblical scholarship of his time as well as the work of other myth theorists, attempting to show that everything about the historical Jesus had a mythical character. Drews met with criticism from Nikolai Berdyaev who claimed that Drews was an anti-Semite who argued against the historical existence of Jesus for the sake of Aryanism. Drews took part in a series of public debates with theologians and historians who opposed his arguments.
Drew's work found fertile soil in the Soviet Union, where Marxist–Leninist atheism was the official doctrine of the state. Soviet leader Lenin argued that it was imperative in the struggle against religious obscurantists to form a union with people like Drews. 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. Public meetings asking "Did Christ live?" were organized, during which party operatives debated with clergymen. Drews also influenced French philosopher Paul-Louis Couchoud who 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. Charles Guignebert, an atheist professor of history at Sorbonne University criticized Couchoud's theory and defended the historicity of Jesus, first in an article in the Review of History of Religions (1926), then with his book entitled Jesus (1933).
In 1927, British philosopher Bertrand Russell stated in his lecture Why I Am Not a Christian that "historically it is quite doubtful that Jesus existed, and if he did we do not know anything about him, so that I am not concerned with the historical question, which is a very difficult one", though Russell did nothing to further develop the idea.
The British archaeologist and philologist John M. Allegro later argued in 1970 that Christianity began as a shamanistic cult. In his books The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (1970) and The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (1979), Allegro put forward the theory that stories of early Christianity originated in an Essene clandestine cult centred around the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms, and that the New Testament is the coded record of this shamanistic cult. Allegro further argued that the authors of the Christian gospels did not understand the Essene thought. When writing down the Gospels based on the stories they had heard, the evangelists confused the meaning of the scrolls. In this way, according to Allegro, the Christian tradition is based on a misunderstanding of the scrolls. He also argued that the story of Jesus was based on the crucifixion of the Teacher of Righteousness in the scrolls. Mark Hall writes that Allegro suggested the Dead Sea Scrolls all but proved that a historical Jesus never existed.
Allegro's theory of a shamanistic cult as the origin of Christianity was criticised sharply by Welsh historian Philip Jenkins who wrote that Allegro was an eccentric scholar who relied on texts that did not exist in quite the form he was citing them. Jenkins called the Sacred Mushroom and the Cross "possibly the single most ludicrous book on Jesus scholarship by a qualified academic". Based on the reactions to the book, Allegro's publisher later apologized for issuing the book and Allegro was forced to resign his academic post. A 2006 article discussing Allegro's work called for his theories to be re-evaluated by the mainstream. 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.
English professor of German George Albert Wells had a profound impact on the Christ myth theory; according to New Testament scholar Graham Stanton, Wells presented the most thoroughgoing and sophisticated arguments for the Christ myth theory in his books The Jesus of the Early Christians (1971), Did Jesus Exist? (1975), The Historical Evidence for Jesus (1982), The Jesus Legend (1996), The Jesus Myth (1999), Can We Trust the New Testament? (2004), and Cutting Jesus Down to Size (2009). British theologian Kenneth Grayston advised Christians to acknowledge the difficulties raised by Wells.
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.
In The Jesus Myth, Wells admitted that there might have been a minimally historical Jesus whose teachings were preserved in the Q document, a hypothetical common source for the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Biblical scholar Robert Van Voorst said that with this argument Wells had performed an about-face while Doherty presented it as another example of the view that the Gospel Jesus did not exist; 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, and Eddy-Boyd presented it as an example of a Christ myth theory book.
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. He argues, for example, that the story of the execution of Jesus under Pilate is not an historical account. 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."
Another proponent of the Christ myth theory, American scholar Alvin Boyd Kuhn founded his own publishing house, wrote more than 150 books and essays on religious history, and reportedly gave nearly 2,000 public lectures in the U.S. and Canada. 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.
The Christ myth theory also enjoyed brief popularity in the Soviet Union, where it was supported by Sergey Kovalev, Alexander Kazhdan, Abram Ranovich, Nikolai Rumyantsev, Robert Vipper and Yuri Frantsev. Later, however, several scholars, including Kazhdan, retracted their views about mythical Jesus and by the end of the 1980s Iosif Kryvelev remained as virtually the only proponent of Christ myth theory in Soviet academia.
21st century proponents
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.
Presenting the case that the gospels re-work ancient pagan myths, Harpur builds on 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.
The book received a great deal of criticism, including a response book, Unmasking the Pagan Christ: An Evangelical Response to the Cosmic Christ Idea. Fellow mythicist Robert M. Price gave the book a negative review. Harpur published a more scholarly sequel called Water Into Wine in 2007
Thomas L. Thompson
Thompson, Professor emeritus at the University of Copenhagen is the author of a number of books critical of the historicity of the Old Testament. While a student at University of Tübingen in the 1970s, his PhD dissertation on the quest for the historical Abraham was rejected by his examiner Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) since it went against Catholic theology. He was invited to finish his degree at Temple University in Philadelphia where he received his PhD summa cum laude. In his book The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David, Thompson argues that the biblical accounts of both King David and Jesus of Nazareth are mythical in nature and based on Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek and Roman literature. For example, he argues that the resurrection of Jesus is taken directly from the story of the dying and rising god, Dionysus. Thompson, however, does not draw a final conclusion if Jesus was real or not, and in a 2012 online article, 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.
During the 21st century, the Christ myth theory has become more widespread because of the Internet, but also met with greater criticism. Professor Bart D. Ehrman, rejecting CMT, states that "The view that Jesus existed is held by virtually every expert on the planet" but Ehrman also recognizes that there are "a couple of bona fide scholars" who support the Christ myth theory.
Thomas L. Brodie
In 2012, the Irish Dominican priest and theologian Thomas L. Brodie, holding a PhD from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and a co-founder and former director of the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick, published Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery. In this book, Brodie, who previously had published academic works on the Hebrew prophets, argued that the gospels are essentially a rewriting of the stories of Elijah and Elisha when viewed as a unified account in the Books of Kings. This view lead Brodie to the conclusion that Jesus is mythical. 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. Brodie then views the Elijah–Elisha story as the underlying model for the gospel narratives.
In early 2013, it was reported that the Dominican order had forced Brodie to resign his teaching job and banned him from writing and lecturing while under investigation for disputed teaching. The Dominican order disputed the story and stated that Brodie had already performed three terms as director at the institute and was not intending to serve a fourth, but that the book would be reviewed by a committee of scholars within the Irish Dominicans. The institute's website indicates the investigation is ongoing. The Dominican Biblical Institute closed in 2015. "There is an unjustifiable jump between methodology and conclusion" in Brodie's book, according to Gerard Norton, and "are not soundly based on scholarship." They are, according to Norton, "a memoir of a series of significant moments or events" in Brodie's life that reinforced "his core conviction" that neither Jesus nor Paul of Tarsus were historical.
Richard Carrier argues in his book On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, that there is insufficient Bayesian probability, that is evidence, to believe in the existence of Jesus. Furthermore, he argues that the Jesus figure was probably originally known only through private revelations and hidden messages in scripture which were then crafted into a historical figure, to communicate the claims of the gospels allegorically. These allegories then started to be believed as fact during the struggle for control of the Christian churches of the first century. He does allow for as much as 1/3 probability of Jesus' existence under the most liberal assumptions.
Canadian writer Earl Doherty wrote in 2009 that the Christ myth theory is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition." Doherty argues in The Jesus Puzzle (2005) and Jesus: Neither God nor Man—The Case for a Mythical Jesus (2009) that Jesus originated as a myth derived from Middle Platonism with some influence from Jewish mysticism, and that belief in a historical Jesus emerged only among Christian communities in the 2nd century.
According to Doherty, none of the major Christian apologists before 180 AD, except for Justin and Aristides of Athens, included an account of a historical Jesus in their defenses of Christianity. Instead Doherty suggests that the early Christian writers describe a Christian movement grounded in Platonic philosophy and Hellenistic Judaism, reaching the worship of a monotheistic Jewish god and what he calls a "logos-type Son". Doherty further argues that Theophilus of Antioch (c. 163–182), Athenagoras of Athens (c. 133–190), Tatian the Assyrian (c. 120–180), and Marcus Minucius Felix (writing around 150–270) offer no indication that they believed in a historical figure crucified and resurrected, and that the name Jesus does not appear in any of them.
Robert M. Price
American New Testament scholar and former Baptist pastor Robert McNair Price was a fellow of the Jesus Seminar, a group of writers and scholars who study the historicity of Jesus and who argue that the Christian image of Christ is a theological construct into which traces of Jesus of Nazareth have been woven. He was also a member of the Jesus Project. Price believes that Christianity is a historicized synthesis of mainly Egyptian, Jewish, and Greek mythologies.
Price questioned the historicity of Jesus in a series of books, including Deconstructing Jesus (2000), The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man (2003), Jesus Is Dead (2007), and The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems (2012), as well as in contributions to The Historical Jesus: Five Views (2009). He writes that everyone who espouses the Christ myth theory bases their arguments on three key points:
- There is no mention of a miracle-working Jesus in secular sources.
- The epistles, written earlier than the gospels, provide no evidence of a recent historical Jesus; all that can be taken from the epistles, Price argues, is that a Jesus Christ, son of God, lived in a heavenly realm (much as other ancient gods, e.g. Horus), there died as a sacrifice for human sin, was raised by God and enthroned in heaven.
- The Jesus narrative is paralleled in Middle Eastern myths about dying and rising gods; Price names Baal, Osiris, Attis, Adonis, and Dumuzi/Tammuz as examples, all of which, he writes, survived into the Hellenistic and Roman periods and thereby influenced early Christianity. Price alleges that Christian apologists have tried to minimize these parallels.
Price argues that if critical methodology is applied with ruthless consistency, one is left in complete agnosticism regarding Jesus's historicity: "There might have been a historical Jesus, but unless someone discovers his diary or his skeleton, we'll never know." 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).
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." In a discussion on euhemerism, Price cautiously asserts that "a genuine historical figure" may ultimately lie at the root of the Christian religion. 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." 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." Price acknowledges that he stands against the majority view of scholars, but cautions against attempting to settle the issue by appeal to the majority.
The Pauline epistles are generally dated to 50–60 CE (i.e. approximately twenty to thirty years after the generally accepted time period for the death of Jesus, around 30–36 CE), and are the earliest surviving Christian texts that may include information about Jesus. The Pauline letters at times refer to creeds, or confessions of faith, that predate their writings. For instance, 1 Corinthians 15:11 refers to others before Paul who preached the creed. These Pre-Pauline creeds date to within a few years of Jesus' death, and developed within the Christian community in Jerusalem. Scholars generally view these as indications that the existence and death of Jesus was part of Christian tradition a few years after his death and over a decade before the writing of the Pauline epistles. James Dunn states that 1 Corinthians 15:3 indicates that in the 30s Paul was taught about the death of Jesus a few years earlier.
Eddy and Boyd present a summary of information about Jesus' earthly life presented in the Pauline epistles. For example in Galatians 1:19, Paul refers to the "Lord's brother" who was alive at the time of Paul; another that 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 refers to those who had interacted with Jesus as Paul's contemporaries; and in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul refers to the Jews "who both killed the Lord Jesus" and "drove out us" as the same people, indicating that the death of Jesus was within the same time frame as the persecution of Paul.
Two more elements in the Pauline letters that pertain to the existence of Jesus and his being a Jew include Galatians 4:4 which states that he was "born of a woman" and Romans 1:3 that he was "born under the law".
Although Paul had met Apostle Peter and stayed with him for 15 days (Galatians 1:18), Paul had not met Jesus in person and only claims to have known him as the "risen Christ". Most scholars view the Pauline letters as essential elements in the study of the historical Jesus.
Myth theorists generally reject the usefulness of these letters. G. A. Wells criticized the infrequency of the reference to Jesus in the Pauline letters. He says there is no information in them about Jesus's parents, place of birth, teachings, trial, nor crucifixion.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. For Paul, Jesus may have existed many decades, if not centuries, before. 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". 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.
Richard Carrier argues that Paul is actually writing about a celestial deity named Jesus. He notes that there is relatively little detail about Christ's earthly life in the Pauline epistles. Carrier points out that according to Paul (Phil. 2. 7), Christ "came 'in the likeness of men' (homoiomati anthropon) and was found 'in a form like a man' (schemati euretheis hos anthropos) and (in Rom. 8.3) that he was only sent 'in the likeness of sinful flesh' (en homoiomati sarkos hamartias). This is a doctrine of a preexistent being assuming a human body, but not being fully transformed into a man, just looking like one..."
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, 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 (although some argue that "the only thing New Testament scholars seem to agree on is Jesus’ historical existence").
Christ Myth theories find virtually no support from scholars. According to New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman, most people who study the historical period of Jesus believe that he did exist, and do not write in support of the Christ myth theory.
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.
Additionally, Ehrman levies stronger criticism against the first "universally" agreed upon claim put forth by Price that there is no mention of a miracle working Jesus in secular sources. Ehrman points out that we don't have archaeological or textual evidence for the existence of most people in the ancient world; even famous people like Pontius Pilate, whom the Myth Theorists agree was involved. "And what records from that decade do we have from his reign," Ehrman asks, "what Roman records of his major accomplishments, his daily itinerary, the decrees he passed, the laws he issued, the prisoners he put on trial, the death warrants he signed, his scandals, interviews, his judicial proceedings? We have none. Nothing at all."
"The same is true of the Jewish historian, Flavious Josephus. Due to his treachery and betrayal of his own people, Josephus not only saved his skin during the Jewish War but also became a personal favorite of the Roman Emperor Vespian," says Robert Hutchinson, in his book Searching for Jesus. He continues, quoting Ehrman, "Yet despite being a personal friend of the emperor, how often is Josephus mentioned in Greek and Roman sources of his own day, the first century CE? Never."
Maurice Casey, theologian and scholar of New Testament and early Christianity, stated that the belief among professors that Jesus existed is generally completely certain. According to Casey, the view that Jesus did not exist is "the view of extremists" and "demonstrably false", and that "professional scholars generally regard it as having been settled in serious scholarship long ago".
Writing in 1977, classical historian and popular author Michael Grant concluded 'modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory.' In support of this, he quoted Roderic Dunkerley's 1957 opinion that the Christ-myth theory has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars'. At the same time he also quoted Otto Betz's 1968 opinion that in recent years 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus' — or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.'
R. Joseph Hoffmann, who had created the Jesus Project, which included both mythicists and historicists to investigate the historicity of Jesus, wrote that there were problems with the adherents to the Christ myth theory. They were asking to set up a separate section of the project for those committed to the theory, which Hoffmann felt signalled a lack of necessary skepticism. He noted that most members of the project did not reach the mythicist conclusion.
The following books support aspects of the Christ myth theory:
- Anacalypsis: An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions by Godfrey Higgins, 1836
- The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors (or Christianity Before Christ) by Kersey Graves, 1875
- The Christ Myth ( or Die Christusmythe) by Arthur Drews, 1909
- The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present ( or Die Leugnung der Geschichtlichkeit Jesu in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart) by Arthur Drews, 1927
- Did Jesus Exist? by George Albert Wells, 1975
- The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, 1999
- The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light (or The Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity?) by Tom Harpur, 2004
- The Jesus Puzzle by Earl Doherty, 2005
- God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (or God Is Not Great: The Case Against Religion) by Christopher Hitchens, 2007
- Nailed: 10 Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All by David Fitzgerald
Since 2005, several English-language documentaries have focused, at least in part, on the Christ myth theory:
- The God Who Wasn't There directed by Brian Flemming and featuring Richard Carrier and Robert M. Price (2005)
- The Pagan Christ produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and featuring Tom Harpur (2007)
- Zeitgeist: The Movie directed by Peter Joseph (2007)
- The Hidden Story of Jesus produced by Channel 4 and featuring Robert Beckford (2007)
- Religulous directed by Larry Charles and featuring Bill Maher (2008)
- Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill (2013)
- Bible conspiracy theory
- Biblical inerrancy
- Biblical literalism
- Christian mythology
- Criticism of the Bible
- Criticism of Christianity
- Criticism of Jesus
- Historical background of the New Testament
- Historical reliability of the Gospels
- Historicity of the Bible
- Josephus on Jesus
- List of messiah claimants
- Origins of Christianity
- Quest for the historical Jesus
- Rejection of Jesus
- Sources for the historicity of Jesus
- Tacitus on Christ
- Maurice Casey, Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014.
- Mitchell, Logan (1842). The Christian mythology unveiled, lectures. Cousins. p. 151.
Jesus Christ in the New Testament, has no reference whatever to any event that ever did in reality take place upon this globe; or to any personages that ever in truth existed: and that the whole is an astronomical allegory, or parable, having invariably a primary and sacred allusion to the sun, and his passage through the signs of the zodiac; or a verbal representation of the phenomena of the solar year and seasons. (Image of Title page & p. 151 at Google Books)
- 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."
- Carrier, Richard (2014). On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. Sheffield Phoenix Press Limited. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2.
[T]he basic thesis of every competent mythologist, then and now, has always been that Jesus was originally a god just like any other god (properly speaking, a demigod in pagan terms; an archangel in Jewish terms; in either sense, a deity), who was later historicized.
- Voorst, Robert Van (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-8028-4368-5.
Bauer laid down the typical threefold argument that almost all subsequent deniers of the existence of Jesus were to follow (although not in direct dependence upon him). First, he denied the value of the New Testament, especially the Gospels and Paul’s letters, in establishing the existence of Jesus. Second, he argued that the lack of mention of Jesus in non-Christian writings of the first century shows that Jesus did not exist. Neither do the few mentions of Jesus by Roman writers in the early second century establish his existence. Third, he promoted the view that Christianity was syncretistic and mythical at its beginnings.
- Lataster, Raphael (December 14, 2014). "Weighing up the evidence for the 'Historical Jesus'". The Conversation. The Conversation (website). Retrieved 28 August 2016.
There are no existing eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus. All we have are later descriptions of Jesus’ life events by non-eyewitnesses, most of whom are obviously biased.
- "Hector Avalos: Who was the historical Jesus?". Ames Tribune. GateHouse Media. Mar 2, 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
[ Hector Avalos, professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University] My own opinion, as an academic biblical scholar, is that there is not enough evidence to settle the question one way or the other. I am an agnostic about the existence of the historical Jesus. A main problem continues to be the lack of documentation from the time of Jesus to establish his existence definitively. Jesus is supposed to have lived around the year 30. But there is no mention of him anywhere in any actual document from his own time or from the entire first century.
- Lataster, Raphael (2015). "Questioning the Plausibility of Jesus Ahistoricity Theories — A Brief Pseudo-Bayesian Metacritique of the Sources". The Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies. 6:1: 68.
Scholar of religion James Tabor (University of North Carolina) also notes Paul’s spurious sources: "This mean the essentials of the message Paul preaches are not coming from those who were with Jesus, whom Paul sarcastically calls the “so-called pillars of the church,” adding “what they are means nothing to me” (Galatians 2:6), but from voices, visions, and revelations that Paul is “hearing” and “seeing.” For some that is a strong foundation. For many, including most historians, such “traditions” cannot be taken as reliable historical testimony."(James Tabor, “Paul as Clairvoyant,” accessed 21/09/2012, http://jamestabor.com/2012/05/23/paul-as-clairvoyant-2).
- Thompson, Thomas L. (20 April 2009). "Historicizing the Figure of Jesus, the Messiah". The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David. Basic Books. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7867-3911-0.
The assumptions that (1) the gospels are about a Jesus of history and (2) expectations that have a role within a story’s plot were also expectations of a historical Jesus and early Judaism, as we will see, are not justified.
- Lüdemann, Gerd (2010). "Paul as a Witness to the Historical Jesus". In R. Joseph Hoffmann. Sources of the Jesus Tradition: Separating History from Myth. Prometheus Books. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-61614-189-9.
In short, Paul cannot be considered a reliable witness to either the teachings, the life, or the historical existence of Jesus.
- Lataster, Raphael (November 12, 2015). "Afterword by Richard Carrier". Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists. p. 418. ISBN 1514814420.
[T]here is no independent evidence of Jesus’s existence outside the New Testament. All external evidence for his existence, even if it were fully authentic (though much of it isn’t), cannot be shown to be independent of the Gospels, or Christian informants relying on the Gospels. None of it can be shown to independently corroborate the Gospels as to the historicity of Jesus. Not one single item of evidence. Regardless of why no independent evidence survives (it does not matter the reason), no such evidence survives.
- Price, Robert M. Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus Books, Publishers. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-61592-120-1.
Generations of Rationalists and freethinkers have held that Jesus Christ corresponds to no historical character: There never was a Jesus of Nazareth. We might call this categorical denial “Jesus atheism.” What I am describing is something different, a “Jesus agnosticism.” There may have been a Jesus on earth in the past, but the state of the evidence is so ambiguous that we can never be sure what this figure was like or, indeed, whether there was such a person.
- Tom Dykstra (2015). "Ehrman and Brodie on Whether Jesus Existed: A Cautionary Tale about the State of Biblical Scholarship". The Journal of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (JOCABS). 8 (1): 29.
As for the question of whether Jesus existed, the best answer is that any attempt to find a historical Jesus is a waste of time. It can’t be done, it explains nothing, and it proves nothing. [Vol. 8, No. 1 (2015)]
- Carrier, Richard (August 2014). "The Bible and Interpretation - Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt: Should We Still Be Looking for a Historical Jesus?". www.bibleinterp.com. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
Christianity, as a Jewish sect, began when someone (most likely Cephas, perhaps backed by his closest devotees) claimed this [Celestial deity] “Jesus” had at last revealed that he had tricked the Devil by becoming incarnate and being crucified by the Devil (in the region of the heavens ruled by Devil), thereby atoning for all of Israel’s sins. [...] It would be several decades later when subsequent members of this cult, after the world had not yet ended as claimed, started allegorizing the gospel of this angelic being by placing him in earth history as a divine man, as a commentary on the gospel and its relation to society and the Christian mission.
- Dr. Richard Carrier. "Questioning the Historicity of Jesus". Strange Notions. Brandon Vogt. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
The hypothesis that Jesus never really existed has started to gain more credibility in the expert community. Some now agree historicity agnosticism is warranted, including Arthur Droge (professor of early Christianity at UCSD), Kurt Noll (associate professor of religion at Brandon University), and Thomas Thompson (renowned professor of theology, emeritus, at the University of Copenhagen). Others are even more certain historicity is doubtful, including Thomas Brodie (director emeritus of the Dominican Biblical Centre at the University of Limerick, Ireland), Robert Price (who has two Ph.D.’s from Drew University, in theology and New Testament studies), and myself (I have a Ph.D. in ancient history from Columbia University and have several peer reviewed articles on the subject). Still others, like Philip Davies (professor of biblical studies, emeritus, at the University of Sheffield), disagree with the hypothesis but admit it is respectable enough to deserve consideration.
- Lataster, Raphael (29 March 2016). "IT'S OFFICIAL: WE CAN NOW DOUBT JESUS' HISTORICAL EXISTENCE". Think. 15 (43): 65–79. doi:10.1017/s1477175616000117.
Think, Volume 15, Issue 43, Summer 2016, Published online by Cambridge University Press
- 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
- 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
- Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34
- Jesus by Michael Grant 2004 ISBN 1898799881 page 200
- The Gospels and Jesus by Graham Stanton, 1989 ISBN 0192132415 Oxford University Press, page 145
- 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
- Did Jesus Exist?:The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins, USA. 2012. ISBN 978-0-06-220460-8.
- B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285
- Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell 1998 ISBN 0-664-25703-8 page 181
- 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".
- Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus by William R. Herzog (4 Jul 2005) ISBN 0664225284 pages 1-6
- 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.
- Weaver 1999, p. 45-50.
- Schweitzer 2001, p. 355ff.
- Voorst 2000, p. 8.
- Wells 1969.
- British Romantic Writers and the East by Nigel Leask (Jun 24, 2004) ISBN 0521604443 Cambridge Univ Press pages 104 -105
- By Tristram Stuart, "The Bloodless Revolution", p. 591.
- Stephen Prickett in the Companion Encyclopedia of Theology edited by Peter Byrne, Leslie Houlden (Dec 4, 1995) ISBN 0415064473 page 154-155
- The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined by David Friedrich Strauss 2010 ISBN 1-61640-309-8 pages 39–43 and 87–91
- The Making of the New Spirituality by James A. Herrick 2003 ISBN 0-8308-2398-0 pages 58–65
- Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth by Michael J. McClymond (Mar 22, 2004) ISBN 0802826806 page 82
- The historical Jesus question by Gregory W. Dawes 2001 ISBN 0-664-22458-X pages 77–79
- See Douglas R McGaughey, "On D.F. Strauß and the 1839 Revolution in Zurich"
- 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
- Beilby, James K. and Eddy, Paul Rhodes. "The Quest for the Historical Jesus", in James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.). The Historical Jesus: Five Views. Intervarsity, 2009, p. 16.
- See Strauss, David. "The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, Calvin Blanchard, 1860.
- Dawkins, 2006, p. 96
- Bart D. Ehrman. Did Jesus Exist?:The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, HarperCollins, USA, 2012, p. 47 ISBN 978-0-06-220460-8
- Gerald O'Collins, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. 2009, pp. 1–3. ISBN 0-19-955787-X
- Erik Hornung. The Secret Lore of Egypt and its Impact on the West, Cornell University Press, 2001, p. 73. ISBN 0801438470
- John M. Robertson. Christianity and Mythology, Watts & Co., London, 2001, p. 73, ISBN 0766187683
- 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
- Arthur Drews. The Christ Myth, 1909
- Robert M. Price.The Christ Myth Theory and its Problems 2011, p. 132, ISBN 9781578840175
- Zacharias P. Thundy. Buddha and Christ: Nativity Stories and Indian Traditions, Brill Academic Pub, 1993, pp. 80–81 ISBN 9004097414
- Nigel Leask. British Romantic Writers and the East Cambridge Univ Press, 2004' pp. 104–105 ISBN 0521604443
- Ehrman, 2013, p. 208
- Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Fortress, 2001; first published 1913, pp. 124–128, 139–141.
- 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.
- In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images by Clinton Bennett (Dec 1, 2001) ISBN 0826449166 Continuum page 204
- Tom Harpur, 2004, p. 30
- Tom Harpur, 2004, p. 59
- Kersey Graves and The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Richard Carrier (2003)
- Tom Harpur, 2004, The Pagan Christ
- Tom Harpur, 2004, p. 200
- Harpur's response to Porter and Gasque
- 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
- Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Fortress, 2001; first published 1913, pp. 356–361, 527 n. 4.
- Arthur Drew, 1926, The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present
- Arvidsson, Stefan. Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science. University of Chicago Press, 2006, pp. 116–117.
- Klausner, Joseph. Jesus of Nazareth. Bloch, 1989; first published 1925, pp. 105–106.
- In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images by Clinton Bennett (Dec 1, 2001) ISBN 0826449166 Continuum page 205
- Deconstructing Jesus by Robert M. Price (2000) ISBN 1573927589 page 207
- 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
- J.M. Robertson, 1856-1933 by G.A. Wells (1 Jan 1987) ISBN 0301870020 pages 162-163
- Christianity And Mythology by John M. Robertson London: Watts 1900 ISBN 0766187683 (reprinted by Kessinger 2004) page 34
- A Short History of Christianity by John M. Robertson 1902 London: Watts ISBN 0766189090 (reprinted by Kessinger 2004) page 72
- Robertson, J. M. A Short History of Christianity. Watts, 1902, pp. 6–12, 14–15.
- A Short History of Christianity by John M. Robertson 1902 London: Watts ISBN 0766189090 (reprinted by Kessinger 2004) page 18
- J.M. Robertson, 1856-1933 by G.A. Wells (1 Jan 1987) ISBN 0301870020 page 149
- G. R. S. Mead and the Gnostic Quest by Clare Goodrick-Clarke (Aug 10, 2005) ISBN 155643572X pages 1-3
- Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.? by G. R. S. Mead (1903) ISBN 1596053763 (Cosimo Classics 2005) pages 10-12
- Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? by Tom Harpur (2006) ISBN 0802777414 p 163
- 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.
- The Christ by John Remsburg 1909, Chapter 1: "Christ's Real Existence Impossible"
- The Christ Myth by John Remsburg 1909, Chapter 2: "Silence of Contemporary Writers"
- Paulkovich, Michael (2014). "The Fable of the Christ". Free Inquiry. 34 (5): 56.
- Paulkovich, Michael (2012), No Meek Messiah, Spillix Publishing, pp. 330–355, ISBN 0988216116
- Drews' book was reviewed by A. Kampmeier in The Monist, volume 21, Number 3 (July 1911), pages 412–432. 
- 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.
- Berdyaev, Nikolai, "The Scientific Discipline of Religion and Christian Apologetics", Put' / Путь vol. 6, 1927
- 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.
- "Jesus never lived, asserts Prof. Drews", The New York Times, February 6, 1910.
- Thrower, James. Marxist-Leninist "Scientific Atheism" and the Study of Religion and Atheism. Walter de Gruyter, 1983, p. 426.
- Also see Haber, Edyth C. "The Mythic Bulgakov: 'The Master and Margarita' and Arthur Drews's 'The Christ Myth'", Slavic & East European Journal, volume 43, issue 2, 1999, p. 347.
- Nikiforov, Vladimir. "Russian Christianity" in Leslie Houlden (ed.) Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2003, p. 749.
- Peris, Daniel. Storming the Heavens. Cornell University Press, 1998, p. 178.
- The historical Jesus in the twentieth century, 1900–1950 by Walter P. Weaver, 1999 ISBN Continuum Publishing Group, 1999, pages 300-303
- Russell, Bertrand. "Why I am not a Christian", lecture to the National Secular Society, Battersea Town Hall, March 6, 1927, Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- John Allegro, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross 1970 ISBN 978-0-9825562-7-6
- John Allegro The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth 1979 ISBN 978-0-879-75757-1
- The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls by Peter Flint and James VanderKam (Jul 10, 2005) ISBN 056708468X T&T Clark pages 323-325
- The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea by Joan E. Taylor (Dec 14, 2012) ISBN 019955448X Oxford University Press p. 305
- 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
- Hall, Mark. "Foreword," in Allegro, John M. The Dead Sea Scrolls & the Christian Myth. Prometheus 1992, first published 1979, p. ix.
- Jenkins, Philip. Hidden Gospels. Oxford University Press, 2002, p. 180.
- A History of the Middle East by Saul S. Friedman (Mar 15, 2006) ISBN 0786423560 page 82
- Hoffman, Michael., ed. by Dr. Robert Price., "Wasson and Allegro on the Tree of Knowledge as Amanita" in Journal of Higher Criticism, 2006.
- The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, 40th anniversary edition by John M. Allegro, Gnostic Media, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9825562-7-6
- Stanton, Graham. The Gospels and Jesus. Oxford University Press, 2002; first published 1989, p. 143.
- Wells, G. A. The Jesus Myth. Open Court, 1999.
- Van Voorst, Robert E. "Nonexistence Hypothesis", in James Leslie Holden (ed.) Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, 2003, p. 660.
- 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.
- Carrier, Richard (2006). Did Jesus Even Exist? Stanford University presentation. May 30, 2006.
- Eddy and Boyd (2007), The Jesus Legend, p. 24.
- 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.
- Wells, G.A. in Tom Flynn. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Prometheus Books, 2007, p. 446ff.
- 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.
- Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Ph.D. A Biographical Sketch of his life and work, by Richard Alvin Sattelberg, B.A., M.S.., 2005
- А. В. Андреев (2015). "Дискуссия об историчности Иисуса Христа в советском религиоведении" (PDF). Вестник ПСТГУ (in Russian). Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- Гололоб Г. "Богословие и национальный вопрос" (in Russian). Библиотека Гумер. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light" by Tom Harpur, Thomas Allen Publishers, Toronto, 2004, ISBN 0-88762-145-7
- Tom Harpur, The Pagan Christ (Toronto: Thomas Allen Publishers, 2004)
- Price's review of 'The Pagan Vgrist'
- Thompson's op-ed about critical scholarship on bible intern.com
- Thompson's response to Bart Ehrman on bibleinterp.com
- Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 4
- Brodie, Thomas L. (2012). Beyond the quest for the historical Jesus: memoir of a discovery. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press. ISBN 978-1907534584.
- Brodie, Thomas L. (2000). The crucial bridge: the Elijah-Elisha narrative as an interpretive synthesis of Genesis-Kings and a literary model of the Gospels. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. pp. 1–3. ISBN 9780814659427.
- Dwayne, Mike (January 25, 2013). "Priest was not 'forced to quit' teaching job over controversial book on Christ". limerickleader.ie. The Limerick Reader. Archived from the original on 2014-03-15.
- Treacy, Bernard (2013-01-21). "Statement from the Dominican Order on the book Beyond the quest for the historical Jesus: memoir of a discovery, by Thomas L. Brodie, O.P." (Press release). Limerick, IE: Dominican Biblical Institute. Archived from the original on 2014-12-19. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
- Clifford, Brendan; Norton, Gerard (2015-09-03). "The Dominican Biblical Institute will cease from September 2015" (Press release). Limerick, IE: Dominican Biblical Institute. Archived from the original on 2016-01-10. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
- Barry, Cathal (2014-04-10). "Cleric faces dismissal over claim that Jesus Christ 'did not exist' ". irishcatholic.ie. Dublin: Irish Catholic. Archived from the original on 2016-04-12. Retrieved 2016-04-12.
- Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12,
- Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, by Earl Doherty, pp. vii-viii),
- Doherty, Earl. "The Jesus Puzzle", Journal of Higher Criticism, volume 4, issue 2, 1997.
- 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."
- Van Biema, David; Ostling, Richard N.; and Towle, Lisa H. "The Gospel Truth?". Time magazine. April 8, 1996.
- Price, Robert M. "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, p. 55ff.
- Also see Price, Robert M. Book review of "Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection". 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
- 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.
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- Religious Tolerance General outline of range of views on Jesus from classical Christian to Jesus a mere man and Jesus entirely mythical