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Did Jesus Exist or Is It All a Myth?

Updated on December 4, 2015
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Catherine Giordano is a writer and public speaker who often writes and speaks on topics related to science, philosophy, and religion.

Was Jesus God, Man, or Myth?

Some biblical scholars question whether or not a historical Jesus ever existed. Others are convinced that there was an actual Jesus although he was fully human and did not perform miracles. And, of course, most Christians believe that the entire Jesus story as told in the Bible is completely true.

Did Jesus exist or is it all a myth?
Did Jesus exist or is it all a myth? | Source

Biblical scholarship is a very complex field of study. One area of research delves into the question of whether or not Jesus ever existed as man or god. I've been researching this question and I'd like to layout the main reasons for skepticism about the existence of Jesus. The arguments and evidence could fill books—and they do—but I will just hit the highlights. I refer you to the books for the details.

We cannot use the Bible as an historical reference since the Bible is what is being examined. Additionally, the Bible shows itself to be an unreliable document because it reports myth as truth, and even when dealing with known facts of history, geography, and science, it gets some of those facts wrong.

Is Jesus “mythologized history” or “historicalized mythology”?

If we wish to know Jesus, the man, we must begin with the assumption that Jesus is not divine, not the son of God, and had no supernatural powers whatsoever. The question then becomes whether he was an actual person or whether his existence is entirely myth.

Did a man named Yeshua ben Yousef live in Bethlehem during the first century of the Common Era? Did he preach, did he have disciples, and was he crucified? Putting aside the stories of the virgin birth, the miracles, and the resurrection, was there an actual historical Jesus?

Some scholars say Yeshua ben Yousef existed, but the stories about him are “mythologized history.” The story of his life was conflated with various mythologies current during his time. The books Zealot by Reza Aslan and How Jesus Became God: by Bart D. Erhman take this approach. They try to strip away the myth and show us the man.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

A meticulously researched account speculates about the life of Jesus and comes to conclusions that challenge long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth.

 
How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee
How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee

Biblical scholar Bart. D. Erhman presents his thesis that the original disciples did not believe that Jesus was God—and it is not what Jesus claimed about himself. This book explains the evolution of a belief that looked very different in the fourth century than it did in the first.

 

Other scholars say the stories of Jesus are “historicalized mythology.” They believe the stories are 100% myth, fiction, and allegory. Myths existed, and then a fictional story of Jesus was added to these myths. This is the central claim of several books such as Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All, by David Fitzgerald and On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt by Richard Carrier.

Another hypothesis is that there were many Jewish preachers traveling about Bethlehem at that time, and their lives were made into a composite that was called Jesus.

I have even heard the theory that the story of Jesus arose from a play given by a traveling theater troupe. It’s an interesting theory because it would have been a way to spread an anti-Roman message under the guise of harmless entertainment.

On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt
On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt

Carrier re-examines the whole premise that Jesus existed as a real person and concludes that the Jesus story as we know it today is a blending of the historical, mythical, and theological. Carrier finds compelling reasons to suspect that the view of many religious scholars that Jesus actually existed is incorrect.

 
Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All
Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed at All

This book sheds light on ten beloved Christian myths.The author gathers evidence from historians across the theological spectrum, and shows how it points to a Jesus Christ created solely through the allegorical alchemy of hope and imagination; a messiah that is a theological construct-- in short, a Christ that is pure myth.

 

The story of Jesus is markedly similar to the stories of mythical heroes.

I began with the assumption that the Jesus of the Bible-- the virgin birth, the miracles, and the resurrection are all myth. Why did I make this assumption?

The virgin birth is based on a mistranslation--the word for young woman was mistranslated as virgin. Also in Greek and Roman mythology (and the mythology of other cultures), great men were frequently born from the union of a god with a human woman. Hercules, for instance, was the son of Zeus and a mortal woman. At a time when these myths were widely believed to be true, it is not surprising that Jesus would also be the son of a god.

Miracles and amazing feats are part of every hero’s journey. If a religion is to be founded upon the life of a man, he must be larger than life. Something has to separate him and make him superior to all others or else why should he be worshiped and followed. So stories are told about Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water, wrestling with demons, etc.

The story of Jesus’ life closely corresponds to the “Mythic Hero Archetype” found in the myths of all cultures. The birth of a divine hero is supernaturally predicted, and he is conceived in a supernatural way. As an infant, he escapes attempts to kill him. As a child, he shows precocious wisdom. As a young man, he is given a mission. He defeats monsters and/or demons and is hailed as a king. His success is short lived--he is betrayed, falls out of favor, and is executed, often on a hilltop. Finally, he is vindicated after his death and taken up to heaven. Countless myths tell this story with slight variations.

The Jewish Bible, the Old Testament, made many prophesies about the Messiah to come. Did Jesus fulfill those prophecies? Of course he did. It is only natural that the people who told the story of Jesus would make the story conform to the prophesies.

Jesus may be just myth that has become historicalized.
Jesus may be just myth that has become historicalized. | Source

There is no contemporaneous evidence of the existence of Jesus.

There are plenty of records available to us from the time of Jesus, but none of these records make any reference to him. There is no record of his birth, no record of his trial, no record of his death—no record of any type. None of the writers and historians of his time wrote even a single word about him. There are no artifacts attesting to his existence—as a carpenter he must have built or made something, and surely this would have been preserved by his followers.

According to the story, during his time on Earth Jesus "was bigger than the Beatles." He had thousands of followers and was alienating the ruling powers among both the Jews and the Romans. Surely someone somewhere for some reason would have written something at the time about a person who had gained that much attention, celebrity, and notoriety. Yet we have nothing.

(I do not cite the brief mention of Christ by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in 93CE because this reference to Christ is an obvious forgery. And I do not cite the Shroud of Turin because it is another well-proven forgery.)

You can read more about the forgeries of the early church in Jesus Who? The Historical Record Gives No Clue.

The New Testament gospels are a hodge-podge of conflicting stories.

There are no eyewitness accounts. The epistles written by Paul (Saul of Tarsas) were written about 52 CE. Paul explicitly states that he never met Jesus.

Paul apparently had no knowledge of Jesus at all. None of the epistle writers, including Paul, give biographical details of Jesus’ life--no mention of his teachings, no mention of his disciples, no mention of miracles, no mention of anything that happened before his death. All indications are that Paul thought of Jesus as a spiritual sky god, an intermediary between God and man, and not as an actual human being. Paul’s beliefs appear to be a mixture of Jewish Scripture, Zoroastrianism, and Mithraism. (Also, the vision that Paul had on the road to Damascus shows all the indications of being caused by an epileptic fit.)

All the things we think we know about the life of Jesus don’t begin to be written down until about 100 years after the presumed date of Jesus’ death. The details appear in the four gospels, Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John, but they were not written by them. The writers are apostles (messengers) and not disciples. The Gospels show evidence of being revised throughout the next centuries and into the Middle Ages. None of the original documents survive. We have only copies of copies, and the copies often differ from each other.

The gospel of Mark is thought to be the earliest “history” of Jesus. Luke and Matthew reworked Mark and added their own material. John was the last to be written and this Gospel adds more contradictions. They vary so much because they were written at different times for different audiences, and had different objectives.

Did the gospel writers make mistakes, were they attempting to write allegories, or was the whole thing outright fiction. No matter which, they are unreliable as biography. What we do know is that the story of Jesus changed over time, becoming more and more fantastical.

There were many competing versions of Christianity, but once an official version of the Bible was established by King Constantine in the fourth century, all competing scripture was banned and destroyed. The early Church had control of the documents and there is no way of knowing what they might have added, removed, or destroyed.

To make matters worse, the gospels contradict each other telling different versions of the same story and including and excluding different details. For example, Matthew says Jesus was born in Bethlehem, home of Joseph, during the reign of Herod the Great (who died in 5 or 4 BCE). Luke thinks Jesus was born in a stable during the census conducted by Quirinius in 6 CE. (They differ by nine years on the date of Jesus’ birth.)

The Gospels are a hodgepodge of conflicting stories which argues against their authenticity.
The Gospels are a hodgepodge of conflicting stories which argues against their authenticity. | Source

Modern scholars have widely different views of the historical Jesus.

The Jesus Seminar was a group of Biblical scholars with the mission to discover the “real” Jesus. Their conclusions run the gamut from alpha to omega. Different scholars described him differently: he is a cynic philosopher, a charismatic Hasid, a progressive Pharisee, a conservative rabbi, a zealous revolutionary, a non-violent pacifist, a messianic king, a Galilean sage, a Hellenistic shaman, and more. These contradictory interpretations can’t all be correct.

If there is so much disagreement, perhaps it is because they are all wrong. Perhaps they cannot agree because there is no historical Jesus. Each scholar cherry picks the part of the story that fits his ideas about Jesus.

Is Christianity a mix of Jewish scripture and myth?

Whether or not there was a Jewish rabbi or itinerant preacher by the name of Joshua ben Joseph roaming around Bethlehem in the first century CE is immaterial. It is highly likely that he is not the man who came to be known as “Jesus Christ” precisely because Jesus Christ is only a myth.

One hypothesis about the origins of Christianity is based on the belief that Jewish scripture melded with the Hellenistic and pagan myths and philosphies common to that era. The Jews around the beginning of the first century believed that they were living in the end-times—scripture had prophesized that a Messiah would lead them to the Promised Land. Many men were trying to fulfill the prophecy by claiming to be the Messiah. The Roman Empire was known to keep meticulous records, but we have no records of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. (Perhaps the records did not survive, but that raises the question of why the church did not preserve them.) The politics of the era also probably helped to shape the myth.

We may never know the true reasons for, and origins of, Christianity. Myths arise and take hold, and thus it has ever been since the earliest times of humanity.

References

In addition to the books cited above, you might want to read these articles that provided some of my source material. You will find a more detailed explaination of the points I have made along with additional recommendations for further reading.

5 Reasons to Suspect that Jesus Never Existed by Valerie Tarico

Did Jesus Really Exist? by Mark Thomas

Did a Historical Jesus Exist? By Jim Walker

You might also want to take a look at The Jesus Birther Movement for an extensive list of resources--articles and videos--about the existence of Jesus Christ.

For Further Reading

Many books have been written about mythicism--the idea that Jesus Christ never existed as a real person and that his story is based on earlier myths. For a reading list with brief book reviews, CLICK HERE.

You may also like two of my other articles on this topic.

Jesus Who? The Historical Record Gives No Clue

The Mythic Origins of Christianity: True or False?

What is your opinion about Jesus Christ?

Which statement best reflects your views about Jesus Christ?

See results

© 2015 Catherine Giordano

I welcome your comments on this topic.

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    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 4 weeks ago from Orlando Florida

      John Hanna: I'm a reporter; I don't do independent research, so, of course, there is nothing new. I rely on the research of others and then combine info from multiple sources into an article a lay person (as opposed to an academic) can enjoy and learn from.

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      John Hanna 4 weeks ago

      Nothing new here Catherine, Alvin Boyd Kuhn was saying the same many years ago and the same theme has been repeated many times since. The man of poor circumstances come to save the world .....bah humbug!

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      Catherine Giordano 2 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Rhoda Monihan: You present some interesting theories that I have not heard before. None of these are in Carrier's book "On the Historicity of Jesus." I do agree that other Biblical scholars should delve into the issue of the existence of Jesus.

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      Rhoda Monihan 2 months ago

      I think that in ancient times, around 1BC or 1CE, someone changed the right to medical science, or access to medicine, from being an exclusive entitlement of the rich and government officers and their families, to being available to all people, rich or poor. A doctor one day in Israel or thereabouts entered a poor or middle class family's house, rather than going into the rich area of Nazareth or somewhere else, and caused a kerfuffle and long term problem because cultural norms were denounced.

      I have no doubt, even though I've not yet done the research, that medicine was originally only for the wealth, although if I start studying ancient culture I can certainly be otherwise persuaded. When we define Jesus's occupation, it's not joinery, it's medicine and healing people over any time period, dramatically or slowly. So when analysing biblical and extrabiblical texts, we must be open to the possibility that they are a bouyant, full and colourful description of what happened in ancient Israel when this happened, when it's medical profession implemented an equality policy for the first time in any nation regarding any person's access to medical doctors. Even if you were disabled back then, you still couldn't be treated by a doctor if you weren't either rich or a Roman government employee. I presume. And perhaps that disqualified you.

      Jesus as god never existed, and Jesus as a man did not exist either if you name him Jesus. But did Ben Stada, a name meaning 'son of the unfaithful' or the son of a woman who committed adultery, maybe did because according to Richard Carrier in On the Historicity of Jesus, there's reports of him being called Jesus. This Ben Stada was also called Ben Pandera, or "panther", for being a bit of a lad and a good liver who had affairs, just as the Jesus who supposedly came later was called as well, the one we discuss between 0CE and 33CE. This person supposedly existed within 1BC. Were the 'Jesuses' just crucifiable around the time of 33CE when they became unwelcome by the Roman government?

      Either way you look at it, I agree with Richard Carrier that more research needs to be done on the historical Jesus and into the contextual meanings of the New Testament. Hope so.

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      Catherine Giordano 3 months ago from Orlando Florida

      timothehius: I won't deal with your objections here becau I hae already dealt with them in another essay. Please read my essay: Jesus Who?

      The Historical Record Gives No Clue. https://owlcation.com/humanities/Jesus-Who-The-His... I will restate one point--a mention of Christians is not a mention of Jesus Christ. No contemporary historian made any mention of anyone whose life resembled that of Jesus Christ. Also, the Bible is not a compilation of eye-witness accounts. Many of the stories in the Bible that are supposed to be about Jesus are just a rehash of pagan and Jewish stories.

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      Timothius 3 months ago from Jasper, GA

      If you are unwilling to except Tacitus in your proof of Jesus's existence, a man that hated Christians by the way and had no reason to mention them, then how do you explain the growth of Christianity? There wasn't a printing machine in those days so there wasn't any way to spread the Bible around, not to mention, the Bible, as we know it, wasn't even put together for another 300 or so years. All they had was a few letters and the testimony of eye witnesses to spread a religion with overwhelming force very quickly. Nobody had any proof then either. Do you not think that the thousands and thousands of converts (quickly) in that ancient era did not ask for proof? I think it's only human nature to want proof but most people want reasoning before converting.

      The proof you want is staring you in the face and you don't even know it. The Bible is nothing but the collection of documents from people who say they witnessed the trial and recorded the happenings. They are the recorded oral accounts of the witnesses. When Jesus died, they (the Apostles) didn't even believe he was the Son of God. Saul, a man that hated Christians with a passion, joining the Apostles later, saw Jesus approx 20 years after died and converted. Why would someone who hated Christians so much join those he hated?

      The Bible holds more weight than you realize. People that claim to be educated look to Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and other ancient poets or historians and value them higher when in fact, their writings are just as historical as the documents of the Bible. The only reason for their discredit is the fact that they are related to a religion.

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      Catherine Giordano 5 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Dennis B. Horvitz: It is impossible to say with 100% certainty whether or not the man we now call Jesus Christ existed or not or, if he did he exist, what he actually wanted.

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      Dennis B Horvitz 5 months ago

      I am not 100% convinced that Jesus did not exist. There may be a historical basis for Jesus and if so, I'm sure the last thing he wanted was to start a new religion based on himself.

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      Catherine Giordano 6 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you Betty Briley Fuller for your comment. This essay does not address whether or Jesus lived, but I have written here on that topic. Did Jesus Exist or Is It All A Myth. https://owlcation.com/humanities/Did-Jesus-Exist-o...

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      Betty Briley Fuller 6 months ago

      This is the first time I've ever read anything in my life this. Think Jesus may have lived, but was only known where he lived and travelled. That was a very small area, limited by very slow travel and communication. 100 yrs later people started writing about local heroes. Thanks so much for this writing.

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      Catherine Giordano 10 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Rex Jamesson: Thanks for taking the time to comment. I often here that Nazarene -Bethlehem argument. It is easily explained. If the myth placed Jesus in Nazarene and another variation had him in Bethlehem, then someone would have to add a new plot point to the story to get the two stories in sync. Another point: There are no records of a census being done at that time or of people having to travel back to the place of their birth for it. Thanks for making the point about Homer. I too have seen analysis of how closely the store of Jesus resembles the story of Odysseus. This book gives all the details. "The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark" by Dennis McDonald. And here is some objective historical reporting about this census. Long story short. It didn't happen. https://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/census.htm

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      Rex Jamesson 10 months ago

      Thank you, Catherine! I clicked "other" - I'm kind of in between categories. I don't think he's 100% myth, but if an actual Jesus existed who knows whether he'd have even been much of a good teacher. I guess I'm all for the 90% myth camp. The best argument towards there probably being some form of itinerant preacher/rabbi Jeshua at that time is from Bart Ehrman in a lecture. He made the point that the evangelists made such a laughable and contradictory bunch of birth narratives to either get a Bethlehem Jesus to Nazareth, or vice versa, that it speaks of an attempt to tie an actual Nazarene preacher to the legend. After all, if it was 100% made up, why not claim there was a Jesus of Bethlehem - or better yet, name him Emmanuel of Bethlehem. But was the Jesus of the gospels at all real? Again, there, I'd bet 10% at most - with Mark looking so much like Homeric fiction, and the rest borrowing from him, I'd say there's nothing there worth trusting.

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      Catherine Giordano 13 months ago from Orlando Florida

      @Avinash I do not have control over the font size. You can increase the font size of anything you are reading by using the settings on your device. Thanks for letting me know that you liked the essay.

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      rfm77 13 months ago

      Yes, there was. Please read the book or get the DVD for $4 - cannot summarize it all here. They were indeed common names, but think of it this way. Let's say all the names I will mention next are part of your family. I say "I found an article on the internet about Albert - must be your father". You say "It's a very common name". "Yes, but the article also mentions Beatrice - your mother's name". "That's also a common name". "Yes, but there's also mention of Carl, Diana and Elisa, probably your cousins". How many names do you need before you conclude that this article is about YOUR family?

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      Randy Godwin 13 months ago

      These were common names at the time. But correct me if I'm wrong because wasn't there also a hitherto unknown family member in the tomb as well?

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      rfm77 13 months ago

      In the end, SI cannot prove that he has found Jesus' family tomb; no one can, even if we had the bones - because there is no way to identify the man. What he has found is a family tomb that seems period-appropriate, is certainly authentic, and has ossuaries with interesting names.

      The whole argument is this: if Jesus and his extended family were buried together, their tomb would look like the one in Talpiot. I think this part holds pretty well under scrutiny. And if the people buried in Talpiot are not them, it is a remarkable coincidence, given the odds that all these names would end up together. The latter argument is missed by a lot of superficial readers who may not understand how probabilities work. They stop at noticing that each of the names is common on its own, but fail to understand the unlikelihood of finding them in the same family.

      But the whole argument hinges on the names, so I wanted a scholarly discussion on how well we have read the names, and their relative frequency in the period, and which ones are recognizable from the gospels.

      I got a good read out of the three links I posted. I hope other people do too, and I hope they read the book and form an opinion for themselves.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 13 months ago from Orlando Florida

      There are articles on every side of every issue. I worked hard to find an objective source. I guess we can all just pick and choose.

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      rfm77 13 months ago

      My interest is precisely in actual evidence. I had searched for serious discussions of the book's claims, and I had found superficial articles like the one you posted, which jump all over the place without addressing the points raised in the book in any depth.

      I was looking for at this intellectual level:

      https://smile.amazon.com/gp/review/R1I7S15T66D7ES?...

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/world/middleeast...

      http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2007/02/proble...

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 14 months ago from Orlando Florida

      ffm7: I guess you have no interest in actual evidence because you have apparently refused to search for it. So I did it for you. You'd rather write snarky comments than spend five minutes on research. http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/09/living/jesus-tomb-ta...

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      rfm77 14 months ago

      @CatherineGiordano The facts contradict the myth, therefore must be false. I see.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 14 months ago from Orlando Florida

      rfm77 Google it. I don't have the links at hand. It's a hoax and has no standing among respected Biblical scholars. Think about it. Why would Jesus have a tomb. He ascended to heaven.

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      rfm77 14 months ago

      @CatherineGiordano Discredited how? Do you have a link to some public documents about this?

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 14 months ago from Orlando Florida

      rfm77 : I have heard about this "tomb" evidence. It is a discredited claim.

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      Alan 14 months ago from Tasmania

      Welcome to HubPages.

      It's good to see a question from an open mind - at least from the historical point of view.

      I wonder what that "leader of a cult" would think of the claims made about his life today.

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      rfm77 14 months ago

      I am an atheist, and do not harbor the least belief that Jesus was divine / performed miracles / was resurrected / etc.

      However, I have read Simcha Jacobovici's book and find his arguments compelling, especially the computation of probabilities of coincidence.

      If he is right, we have found Jesus' tomb and his bones. I know that the archaeological community has avoided his research like a hot potato - but is it because his arguments are flawed or because nobody has the courage to handle such a topic? Is it because his methods are unscientific, or because he did not go through the peer review process?

      I am asking honestly: do you know of a proper scientific review / critique / refutation of his work?

      If the book is right, there was a man named Jesus, son of Joseph, who was buried in Jerusalem in the first years of the common era - and we have found his family tomb and his bones.

      From this, of course, does not follow any claim of divinity, or accuracy of the gospels, etc. It is entirely possible that he was a preacher and that a cult was later built around him, after his death. The book's only claim is that we have found his bones.

      What do you know about this?

      Book: "The Jesus Family Tomb: The Evidence Behind the Discovery No One Wanted to Find

      by Simcha Jacobovici, Charles Pellegrino"

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: I found Ehrman's quote in Wikiquotes (and many other places.) "There are more differences among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament." You are correct. He is referring to how many variations that are found when all extant copies of the NT are considered. The estimate is 400,000. If the same passage (or sentence, or word) has 100 variations, does that count as 1 error or 100 errors. (I don't know how he counted.) Most of the variations are minor and insignificant, but often they are major and have great significance, changing the whole understanding of the text. (Especially when whole passages are added or deleted.) In any event, no one knows what the original NT said, and going back even further, what the original manuscripts that eventually made it into the NT said when they were first written.

      Every time one of these 400,000 variations is found the translator, (editor, publisher) must decide which one to accept. That's a lot of guess work.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: You say people make mistakes. I say the exact same thing. Mistakes are made all the time and the Bible is not exempt. To err is human... but the Bible is divine. You say Erhman is talking about all the mistakes made in every copy of the Bible that is extant? I'll have to find the sentence from his book I am referencing and see if that is what he meant. And I don't think that includes deliberate additions and deletions of whole passages. Also neither you nor anyone else has given me a source for your numbers so I can check them. (Objective sources only.)

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      Lawrence Hebb 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Its interesting that you use Bart Ehrman like this but when you actually read what he says its quite different to what you portray!

      Yes he does say 400,000 errors, but spread across 25,000 documents! That makes an average (so Erhman says) of 16 per document.

      Naturally there will be more in the bigger ones but answer this, how many grammar mistakes are there in this hub and comments? and this hub is nowhere near as long as the New Testament (I know there were at least five that I corrected in this comment alone!).

      If you take that into account (average of 16 per document) then dan's figures would be pretty conservative and it would be more like 99.999%

      Merry Christmas

      Lawrence

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      Alan 22 months ago from Tasmania

      Catherine, you set a good example here, by keeping an open mind to the propositions of others.

      Alas, there are individuals who cannot keep such an open mind.

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      matsterp 22 months ago

      are people out there actually not knowing that christ is alive and out there i met the guy he looks like hes in his thirthies 6 foot 2 to 6 foot 5 skinny and lights act really strange and flash like crazy i met him 2 years ago and some one lady called out his name not jesus not christ but brian and this guy wasnt there from the start of where we were he came over started shaking everyones hand even came over to me saying that he loves the energy which was my mania and i was scaring alot people but any way later on i went right to him for some strange reason and he asked me do you know who i am im like nope then he said are you here to kill me im like no then he told me... bro im christ he said bro alot i said the f word in front him like alot but i wasnt my self so basically he told me i was scaring the people around me and that i shouldnt mess with free will and he would appreciate that i would go to church the next day got to talk to him for an hour very busy person handy guy cooler than any celebrity alive but the chances of meeting him are like winning the lottery but that day was filmed at school wont say which its impossible to get the film and no would post such a video of the dude

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      dan: Thanks for commenting. First, the gospels wee not eyewitness reports and they are not even reports of eyewitness reports. No one knows who actually wrote them, but they appear to have been written no earlier than about 70 CE and some say later.

      Second, the scribes often made mistakes, some deliberate and some accidental. Bart Erhman, a famous Biblical scholar who has written several books on the lack of accuracy in the Bible, said that there are more errors in the Bible than there are words in the Bible. (This statement astounded me--I'm not sure how he counted.) Where did you get your figure of "99.5% pure." I want to check that out to see if the source is reliable.

      Also, not all copies were made by professional scribes--some were made by "volunteers."

      Finally, this is not revisionist history. This is taking the null hypothesis and taking a fresh objective look at the evidence and concluding that there is nothing to prove that Jesus existed. The reasons for my conclusion are given in the essay and in the links included in the essay.

      Therefore, the null hypothesis stands, Jesus did not exist. If there is new evidence, the conclusion might change.

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      dan 22 months ago

      You could say the same thing for just about anyone of historical significance without physical proof of their existence. Our historical evidence is predicated on written, eyewitness accounts of the time. That applies to EVERYONE from history prior to the invention of photography... " Gospel accounts are very accurately transmitted from then to now. Let me illustrate something. When a Gospel was written, it was copied very carefully by scribes. Their living depended on their accuracy and competency in making copies. These copies would be disseminated throughout the Mediterranean area. So, for example, one copy of the Gospel of Matthew was sent to one area, and another copy was sent somewhere else hundreds and hundreds of miles away. Then copies of those copies would be made with the same meticulous precision. Archaeologists have uncovered thousands of such copies, and they have compared them. The New Testament documents are better than 99.5% textually pure. That means less than one-half of 1% of the copies, 5,000 of them, have any textual variation in their copying. That is incredible and far more accurate than anything dealing with Plato, Socrates, etc." [sic] Matt Slick "Is there proof Jesus existed?" So I suppose as far as believing in Jesus goes, that also goes for believing in everyone else in history as well. I personally believe Jesus was a real person, however I have my doubts about all of the accounts of his life. I hate to say it, but this article sounds a bit like revisionist history to me.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      ErlendM: I have been thinking about the things you said that Paul said about Jesus Christ. Most of them refer to Jesus' character and could be as true for a celestial being as a mortal man. As for the rest, very few give concrete details. And even the vague things that are mentioned-- how did he learn these things? Paul says everything I know I know through revelation. If he wasn't an eye-witness himself and no one told him, where did these details come from? According to you he knows minutiae, like some disciples were married, but no mention of the major stories that could be true like interfering with the stoning of a woman accused of adultery. Also, are all the references you gave me from the letters that are attributed to Paul and not the ones that are generally considered to have been written by someone else?

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks, jonnycomelately: I am also in favor of keeping the debate fact-based. Some here have made comments about a different understanding of some facts, and these comments have spurred me to do more research. I have even made some minor edits based on things I have learned in the comments. I enjoy and welcome a fact-based debate.

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      Alan 22 months ago from Tasmania

      I reason that, in the context of this discussion, what Catherine has said in opening the discussion is very relevant here.

      "We cannot use the Bible as an historical reference since the Bible is what is being examined. Additionally, the Bible shows itself to be an unreliable document because it reports myth as truth, and even when dealing with known facts of history, geography, and science, it gets some of those facts wrong."

      Prior to that, "....I'd like to layout the main reasons for skepticism about the existence of Jesus."

      Therefore, I contend this is an objective discussion. It is not appropriate to bring in the subjective beliefs about Jesus's existence. The subjective gets more than adequate expression elsewhere in other discussions and hubs.

      As a person with atheist ways of thinking, I am not against anyone having those subject views, even when I don't agree with them. But when there seems to be a fear associated with the those subjective views, the proponents tend to fight to be heard and put their views in a very forceful, argumentative manner.

      It appears as a sort of philosophical bullying, in my opinion, as if no other view is going to be acceptable.

      Anyway, I hope the objective assessment of Catherine's questions can continue.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Skeletor: Interestingly, you deny my interpretation, but offer nothing to support your own interpretation. Paul does not tell us anything in his epistles about the life of Jesus while he was on Earth. Paul never tells any of the stories that we find in the Gospels and other parts of the Bible. Paul tells us that he founded Christianity based on a vision he had, and he specifically states that it was not based on anything he was told about Jesus. Additionally, Paul never states that he met Jesus as a live human being. Also, as you probably know, only about half of the writings that we have that are attributed to Paul are believed by scholars to actually have been written by him. So before you call my research false, please cite at least one sentence written by Paul that describes Jesus as a human being on Earth.

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      Skeletor 22 months ago

      "All indications are that Paul thought of Jesus as a spiritual sky god, an intermediary between God and man, and not as an actual human being."

      Totally false. I wish mythicists would stop saying this. Either they haven't actually read the writings of Paul or they have read them but they have a selective memory. Paul, most certainly, assumes Jesus the man existed.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      ErlendM: I don't think I misread Erhman. I think he was quite clear. I don't have time now to go and find quotes from the book so I can cite them here. I remember being shocked to read them so they have stayed in my mind. Maybe Erhman is trying to walk back his statements.

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      ErlendM 22 months ago

      "I've only read one book by Erhman and he makes it clear that the Bible was willfully altered in order to conform to whatever message the current generation of Churchmen wanted it to conform to. His titles also give his thesis away. For instance "Forgeries." It seems to me Erhman is back-tracking on the claims he made in his earlier books. Maybe he has edited his websites accordingly."

      I think you might have misread Ehrman, or taken some of his more bold statements that he then went on to significantly qualify. I know some atheists have claimed and proof-texted him to make him sound like this was his stance, but he never had this view of the transmission being so uncontrolled or fluid as has just been characteristized. No textual critic would- the evidence for that is just not there. If you google you can listen to a discussion between Ehrman and my one time teacher (and very well known textual scholar) Dr Peter Williams of Cambridge on this topic from a few years back when his "Misquoting" came out, from memory, will highlight this. Incidentally, before his book on Jesus mythcism Ehrman was proof-texted and referenced regularly by online atheists as if he was a mythicist!

      If you have a genuine interest on textual criticism (aside from that radio discussion I just mentioned) there are lots of introductory books on this topic e.g. 1) Comfort "Encountering the Manuscripts: An Introduction to New Testament Paleography & Textual Criticism ", 2005, 2) Ehrman and Metzger "The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration" 2005, (by the way the use of "restoration" there is important indication of Ehrman and Metzger's views...), 3) Parker "An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and their Texts". Elliot's "New Testament Textual Criticism The Application of Thoroughgoing Principles " might also be of interest to you.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: Only one of a virgin birth!!! That is the one of the most common elements of the myths. See my hub: "The Mythic Origin of Christianity."

      Also if the "incarnations" stories are myths, why isn't the virgin birth also a myth.

      I've only read one book by Erhman and he makes it clear that the Bible was willfully altered in order to conform to whatever message the current generation of Churchmen wanted it to conform to. His titles also give his thesis away. For instance "Forgeries." It seems to me Erhman is back-tracking on the claims he made in his earlier books. Maybe he has edited his websites accordingly.

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      Lawrence Hebb 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      I've been reading more of the articles he's written online, I wouldn't agree with everything he says but I do like a lot of it.

      For example he says that of the 25,000 manuscripts and fragments there are 400,000 'mistakes' and mistranslations (an average of 16 per copy) I thought there were only 16,000 manuscripts and fragments!

      He goes on to say that of those 'mistakes: only about .001% are serious enough to get a mention in a study Bible's footnotes and none of them affect the message of the Bible!

      I got this from a site criticising him but went on to his blogsite and what I read I found fascinating as it agrees with what I just illustrated here!

      He does say that there are many stories of divine beings being 'incarnated' but only one of a virgin birth-that of Jesus!

      That was his latest blog

      Lawrence

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      tirelesstraveler: Thank you for your comment. I find the topic fascinating as I try to unravel the origins of Christianity. I'm glad to hear that you also have an interest in this topic and that the resources I cited are useful to you as you do your own investigation.

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      Judy Specht 22 months ago from California

      I've been thinking a lot about this hub. I have been studying this subject for some time. You site a rather limited number of resources on a subject that been under scrutiny for thousands of years. All your references were entirely new to me. I must examine some of them.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: We definitely muct have read different Erhman books. I read "Misquoting Jesus" and he said we have no idea what the original gospels said, and that there were more errors in the Bible than words. That sentence was such a shocker that I had to read it three time to be sure it really said that. He did.

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      Lawrence Hebb 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Bart Eherman for one! Donald A Carson is another (Carson is evangelical). My statement was that the gospels are (scholars are sure) 99% what the original writers wrote!

      If I was to include 20th century Theologians no longer alive the list would include FF Bruce, Donald Guthrie, Karl Barth.

      By the way I've read some of Eherman's writing on the net and while I may not agree totally I have a new appreciatoin for him.

      Yes I have read your hub Atheists in the pulpit and we did swap comments when it first came out, I basically liked and still like what it says.

      Regards

      Lawrence

      By the way it was Bart Eherman said the Bible is 99% accurate to what was written!

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      larwrence01: Once the printing press came into usage, it was much harder fr errors, deliberate or accidental, to get into the texts. I understand that the errors probably cold not be helped for the very reasons you state, but this does not change the fact that there are many many errors. What scholars are you talking about who say the Bible in 99% percent stone-cold truth? All the miracle stuff is 100% truth? Or do you mean that the Bible we have to day is 99% the way it was first written? Both of those conclusions would be totally wrong and I don't think serious scholars would make them.

      Have you read my hub "Atheists in the Pulpit." many people, Bart Erhman for one, go into the seminary as true believers Then they for the first time study the Bible and the History of the Church and learn the truth. So many people have told me they were one of those disillusioned ones or their pastors have admitted to them that they don't believe it.

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      Kiss andTales 22 months ago

      Jonny are you forgetting this is hp website.

      You are in control of your computer, you do not have to read or respond to my answer

      That is clear. But as an example you do not set it right telling people what to do , where to go, does that make you correct in your choice of words. I never address you in this untasteful manor . Nor do I argue but I will speak to you say to say that you are out of line telling me what to do.

      What my belief is has not been mention in this subject , yet you are the one making it an issue, what example are you showing in a negative way.

      If you do not want to hear what another has to say mock their words , tell them to go away. The words I share existed before my birth and yours and so far they still exist .

      It is not personal with me but the true owner of the message.

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      Alan 22 months ago from Tasmania

      Kiss and tales, can't you take no for an answer? You are representing the worst of JW salesmanship tactics, trying to keep your foot in the door so people can't close it on you.

      If you wish to engage in those sort of arguments, you are free to do so, of course. But please take them elsewhere, they are not appropriate here in Catherine's hub, in my opinion.

      You know full well that I am not interested in your "message," so go away, stop bothering people, please!

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      Lawrence Hebb 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Catherine

      Thank you for your reply. I just want to take up a couple of points you make in the reply.

      You'd be right to say Paul didn't 'write' most of his letters as the evidence suggests that his 'thorn in the flesh' was something to do with his eyes (I think its the letter to the Galatians he says "See what large letters I'm using" and he also says "you were so good to me that if you could have plucked your own eyes out and given them to me you would have") so I doubt he was up to much writing and usually dictated the letters.

      This would explain some of the subtle differences in the letters.

      As for the 'mistakes' and large amount of copying errors, there are quite a few, but let's remember this was 1,400 years before the printing press and 1,800 years before any kind of photocopier so there would naturally be errors, many of the scribes would have been working in their second language (not everyone spoke Greek or Latin as their 'mother tongue') but the key is that 99% of scholars are agreed that the gospels are 99% accurate (the 1% they are not sure about is the end of Mark's gospel and 100% of scholars say no major teaching of the NT is affected). The tomb is left empty and the disciples are left wondering " What just happened?"

      Hope this explains a few things

      Lawrence

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      Kiss andTales 22 months ago

      Jonny thank you for verifying this fact, example of a gold bar, it is solid gold with no change posible to silver, aluminum , brass, there is no other possibilities of it reality . You can call it what you want , but does the truth change , no it is solid gold. The story here is if some one gave you the gold bar , you would be in so disbelief because you could not believe that some could hand you this kind of value with no strings attached. And out of disbelief you mock the giver and say he gave me this gold bar and even calls it gold, he should have enough sense to think of another name to call it.

      Well that person even shows disrepect for the gold bar how he handles it.

      Does it change the gold bars reality that it is solid gold no,

      Will the value change even though the one

      See it different no!

      The real value of the truth is worth more then gold, because its values is to keep us alive throughout eternity.

      There is no greater value in anything else that is only temporary.

      The gift giver of this wants others to recieve and appreciate the sacrifice it took to make this possible, surely no human could accomplish love to this degree.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      ErlendM: Thank you for your comments. Should I have said many scholars--it depends on your definition of many. But since it is currently a minority of scholars, I will change the word to "some."

      I have read, and I don't think this claim is disputed by objective scholars, that Paul only wrote about half of the letters attributed to him. I don't know if any of your citations come from those letters that were not written by him. The letters attribute to Paul were written over a period of years. The story had started to be embellished. If Paul wrote those things, perhaps he was influenced by these embellishments. And, of course, we have to consider the massive number of forgeries, interpolations, copying errors, and deliberate, as well as accidental, insertions and deletions. I learned about this from Bart Erhman. Knowing this, even after the fantastical elements of the Bible stories are dismissed, can I trust even mundane claims made in the Bible?

      I strive for accuracy in my essays. I read what atheist, apologist, and objective sources say and try to come up with the truth. It is , of course, my opinion of what the truth is. The point is I don't rely only on Carrier or other atheist sources. (By the way Carrier's book has extensive footnotes to document his case.) Now that Carrier has broken the ice, so to speak, perhaps other scholars will feel free to direct their research in the same vein. Carrier challenges people to refute him with objective evidence; I don't think anyone has.

      Let's start with the null hypothesis. Christ did not exist. Can anyone prove he did? No fair using the Bible unless you have other documentation for anything in it.

      I don't think we can have 100% certainty until we have time travel and perhaps not even then. We all know even eye-witnesses can get things wrong. Still maybe the time travelers could get a look at the documents that we know existed, but which have not survived. I think once the Church came to power, they destroyed anything (as much as they could) that did not agree with the official view.

      I appreciate your comments.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      lawrence01: Thanks for adding useful information about the use of 'the" in the Greek language.

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      Lawrence Hebb 22 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Interesting

      I haven't been on this hub for a while so it's interesting for me to come back as see where the discussion is going!

      One thing I'll pick up on though is Jonnycomelately's comment about the use of the definite article. You're right that the Englaish translations do make much more use of it than the Greek, that's simply to help make sense of the Greek as often the definite article isn't written but is implied as it is sometimes actually absorbed into the Greek word (I think the phrase is called a 'possesive participle')

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      Alan 22 months ago from Tasmania

      There is no mocking from me, K&T. Only an enlightening discussion.

      I am not discussing beliefs, only looking for new possibilities.

      If your beliefs shield your mind from new possibilities, then why even enter the room for discussion?

      In fact I believe (that word in a different context) you have put your opinions numerous times before and they don't ever change.....so we learn nothing new from you.

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      Kiss andTales 22 months ago

      The question was open to anyone as a posted hub.

      And I contributed to an answer. Which I think is a very valid answer, what I consider and many others consider is proof is way enough, yet if you feel different as said that is respected.

      But if you open a hub and ask questions about the subject of Jesus then why would you not expect and answer ? Or is it that you want to convence people to think like you, if you want people to respect your beliefs, then why mock people for their own by asking these kind of questions you do not believe in.

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      ErlendM 22 months ago

      Catherine,

      Thanks for removing that. A word of caution if I can be so bold. I could tell from some of your arguments (some now modified such as that one, and others that remain in your article) that you have been reading and trusting amateur/biased, actually often spurious, sources such as that website, or self-published atheist apologetics. Again does that mean these sources are wrong? Not necessarily, but they should be trusted just as much as Christian apologetics on science or history.

      I am aware of Carrier's journey and I do not discredit it or his work- or you raising it to your readers. But there is a vast number of Biblical historians who are secular atheists. None of them have proclaimed support for Carrier. Again it doesn't mean he is wrong, but this is the fringe, the extreme fringe, of historical theories that has almost invisible support. If you still want to claim to your readers that "many" Biblical or ancient historian scholars support mythicism well that is okay I wont labour the point.

      Regarding Paul, I think you might want to qualify your statement that αδελφός (brother) is used in the New Testament in a way that can mean non-biological brother. I think this is clear from a simple reading of the verses where it is utilized, i.e. it is eisegesis, not exegesis to suggest this. The expert of kinship address in ancient Greek is Eleanor Dickey, a Classical and not Biblical historian. Her doctoral thesis is "Greek Forms of Address: From Herodotus to Lucian" (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996), and she has also published KYRIE, ΔΕΣΠΟΤΑ, DOMINE: Greek Politeness in the Roman Empire,” Journal of Hellenic Studies 121 (2001): 1-11, “Literal and Extended Use of Kinship Terms in Documentary Papyri,” Mnemosyne 57 (2004): 131-76, and “The Greek Address System of the Roman Period and Its Relationship to Latin,” Classical Quarterly 54, no. 2 (2004): 494-527. Despite being the leading authorities on this topic I have never seen these works being mention in mythicist works, which is a shame for they would prevent them for making this argument. This is just one example of why professional historians who look at mythicist arguments find them, despite their bluster and energy, unsophisticated, lacking in depth, and knowledge.

      Also, are you certain Paul really doesn't talk about Jesus' life?

      Gal 3:16 -- Jesus was born a Jew

      Gal 4:4 -- Jesus lived under Jewish Law

      Rom 1:3 -- Jesus was from the house of David

      1 Cor 9:5 -- Jesus had brothers

      1 Cor 15:7 -- One of his brothers was James

      1 Cor 15:7 -- Jesus had twelve disciples

      1 Cor 15:7 -- Some of Jesus' disciples had wives

      2 Cor 8:9 -- Jesus was poor

      Phil 2:5 -- Jesus was a servant who acted with humility

      2 Cor 10:1 -- Jesus acted with meekness and gentleness

      Rom 15:3 -- Jesus didn't act on his own behalf, but was accused by others

      1 Cor 5:7 -- Paul alludes to the Passion week

      Rom 6:6 -- Jesus was crucified

      1 Thes 2:14-15 -- Jesus crucifixion was brought on by Jewish instigation

      Rom 4:25 -- Paul speaks of Jesus' death

      Rom 6:4, 8:29; Col. 2:12 -- Paul talks about the nature of the resurrection.

      Paul's knowledge of Jesus’s teachings:

      1 Cor 7:10-11 -- About divorce and remarriage

      1 Cor 9:14 -- Ministers being paid wages

      Rom 13:6-7 -- Paying taxes

      Rom 13:9 -- We are to love our neighbors as ourselves

      Rom 14:14 -- Ceremonial cleanliness

      1 Thes 4:15 -- Paul said to be vigilant in light of Jesus' second coming

      1 Thes 5:2-11 -- The second coming would be like the thief in the night

      1 Cor 7: 10;9:14;11:23-25 -- Paul refers to Jesus' words.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      jonnycomelately: Thank you for your comment. I wonder why K&T comes back over and over with Bible verses. Does the phrase "she doth protest too much" spring to mind?

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      Alan 22 months ago from Tasmania

      K&T, Catherine has put up some interesting and sensible questions about what is found written in the bible. She has clearly shown where her thinking has come from and how it is influenced. The Hub is mainly a collection of questions, not so much statements of fact.

      So, why do you need to bring in "beliefs" at this point? Can you not do some research of your own, then come up with references and discussions which keep to the subject matter?

      If you want to hang on to your beliefs, that's fair enough. If those beliefs are strongly held, you should not be worried that they will be dislodged because, as you have so rightly stated, "You have the choice to believe as you wish."

      So surely there is no need for you to worry about what others might think. We all have our choices.

      It seems to me most, if not all, the arguments brought in above about "a brother" or "the brother" only come from individuals who, like yourself, have beliefs and want to simply protect those beliefs. They have no useful input to the discussion, only a perpetuation of argument.

      I might be mistaken, but that's how it appears to me.

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      Kiss andTales 22 months ago

      Catherine if your name exist , then Jesus also exist.

      I never seen you a day in my life and I never seen Jesus a day in my life .but as I witness your writtings here on Hp

      It is proof of you.

      The bible is also wriitings of devine origin

      No man could preserve this knowledge of history on their own , human life is not long enough.

      You have the choice to believe as you wish.

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      Alan 22 months ago from Tasmania

      Now we are all shivering in fear as tsad declares his judgement!

      Concerning use of the Definite Article, you will be aware that, when speaking the English language, people of the Indian subcontinent frequently omit "the" in their manner of speech.

      Could it be that in translation of the bible by English scribes, they have used English English in which we are apt to use Definite Article sometimes too profusely?

      Are there other languages which also imply the Definite or Indefinite article by other means within a sentence?

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      TSAD 22 months ago from maybe (the guy or girl) next door

      If Jesus did not exist, it makes Christianity a much more incredible phenomena than if he did.

      One day you and all those who promote doubt that he did exist will discover to your terrible dismay that he did exist, that he lives still, and that you will spend an eternity without him. Heed what he said:

      "Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."

      It's your choice, don't believe the lies.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Mark Zima: I can't prove my interpretation of "brother of Christ" any more than you can prove yours. I have read Bart Erhman's book, "Misquoting Jesus" and he says there are more errors in the Bible than there are words in the Bible. Copying errors, mistranslations, deliberate additions and deletions, forgeries, etc. Who knows whether the word "the" was in there or not. No one can say for sure. The very earliest copies of the books of the Bible are not extant. We only have copies of copies of copies according to Erhman.

      As for disciples and apostles, disciples can be apostles but not all apostles are disciples. If Paul meant the very few men who could claim the honor of having been disciples, why did he not use that term instead of apostles. Or maybe he did and it is just another one of those errors.

      I think Ehrman and Carrier had very similar views until recently when Erhman seems to have reversed himself and is returning to his fundamentalist roots somewhat.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Kiss nTales: Did you ever think that the genealogy was just made up (like most everything else in the Bible) in order to give Jesus a lineage going back to Kings David and Solomon? This genealogy appears nowhere but in the Bible.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Mark Zima: It sounds like a reasonable explanation. So you are saying that Paul did learn about Jesus from others, but didn't want to admit it because it would lower his prestige. So you are saying he is actually lying when he swears that his words are not a lie. If he is such a blatant liar, why should we believe anything that he says.

      You can't have it both ways. Either Paul knows nothing about Jesus' life or he does know but does not want to tell anyone what he knows because it would discredit his claim to have direct contact with God through revelation.

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Kiss nTales: Did you ever think that the genealogy was just made up (;ole everything else in the Bible) in order to give Jesus a lineage going back to King David. This genealogy appears no where but in the Bible.

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      Kiss andTales 22 months ago

      The key to the list of this genealogy is the names of King David , and his son Solomon,

      Did they exist is their historical proof Yes !

      Notice.

      Discovery of official clay seals support existence of biblical kings David and Solomon, archaeologists say

      Date:

      December 16, 2014

      Source:

      Mississippi State University

      Summary:

      Six official clay seals found by an archaeological team at a small site in Israel offer evidence that supports the existence of biblical kings David and Solomon. Many modern scholars dismiss David and Solomon as mythological figures and believe no kingdom could have existed in the region at the time the Bible recounted their activities. The new finds provide evidence that some type of government activity was conducted there in that period.

      So what is written has been proven with no bible connection,

      But what is valid is Mt 1:6 Jesʹse became father to David the king. David became father to Solʹo·mon by the wife of U·riʹah;

      No reason to think that Jesus was not a descendent.

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      Mark Zima 22 months ago

      Galatians is a hard letter to understand because it is half of an ongoing conversation. The original intended reader would know the whole conversation, but the modern reader has to try to reconstruct both sides of the conversation from the one side that we have.

      Fortunately, it is possible to make a very coherent reconstruction of the full conversation, but this isn't the place for me to give a step-by-step essay explaining how to do this in a convincing manner. I'll just give my off-of-the-top-of-my-head summary of what the first chapter is about.

      Paul is in a power struggle with those Christian authority figures that came before him. He wants there to be nobody that can contradict him, therefore he absolutely must not be second in rank to anybody. This is extremely important to Paul. He justifies such a rank for himself by claiming that his teaching came directly from Christ (after his death, but nonetheless directly). Because there was no intermediate person transmitting Jesus's teaching to Paul, nobody ranks above Paul (in his eyes). If Paul had any other teacher than Jesus, Paul would rank below that teacher. That's how it worked, apparently. It was a hierarchy of transmission.

      In Galatians, Paul seems to be defending himself against a claim that he received teachings from some Apostle in Jerusalem who was neither Peter nor James. Paul is making his case that this claim is not true. As I said, this is important to Paul because if it was true that he received teachings from Apostles in Jerusalem, then he would rank below those Apostles, because he was their student. Paul has to admit that he met Peter and James when he was in Jerusalem, but he makes a big point that they were the only ones he met (and thus not the Apostle or Apostles that are claimed by somebody to have taught him). This is why Paul writes: "19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie." He is swearing a serious oath that he saw none of the other apostles. Why should that be so important that he would swear such an oath? Because--as he writes shortly before--none of his teaching come from anywhere besides Christ directly.

      And, if you understand this, then you understand why Paul absolutely would NOT be expected to have acknowledged ANY transmission to him of information about the historical Jesus. That would open Paul up to claims that those who knew the historical Jesus ranked above Paul. Paul will have none of it. In his view, what he teaches are the only teachings that matter, and anyone who teaches anything to the contrary is damnable. Paul acknowledges that he did not know Christ before he died, and rather than let that make him lower in rank than those who did, he diminishes those who did and raises himself as the one whom Christ came to from after his death to teach directly, the last and therefore first-in-rank Apostle.

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      Mark Zima 22 months ago

      Catherine, it sounds like you are following Richard Carrier's bad arguments without questioning them. There is a good reason why Carrier hasn't swayed academic New Testament scholars.

      First, the word "apostle" does not exclude disciple.

      Second, context clearly rules out "brother" being used as a mere indicator of being part of an in-group. James is not called "a brother of Christ" he is called "the brother of Christ". If this was about "brothers in Christ", then he would be "a brother of Christ" not "the brother of Christ". And if this was a term about being part of an in-group, why then isn't Peter ever called the brother of Christ, or why isn't anybody else ever called the brother of Christ in any of the epistles? It is a very special indicator being "the" brother of Christ, and this is supported by the fact that, in Galatians, Peter is depicted as being intimidated by James, and reversing his stance, because James disapproves, about non-Jewish Christians being allowed to eat with Jewish Christians as Paul wants to do.

      And you can't just claim an interpolation exists just because something is evidence against your thesis. That is a desperate way for one to interpret a text to come out the way one wants it to, not a compelling way.

      And if you (and this also applies to Carrier whose argument you are giving) actually understood what the first chapter of Galatians is actually about, you would see that it actually explains why Paul absolutely would NOT have written down stories about Christ that he had heard from others. This takes longer to explain. I'll put something about it in my next comment (I've been losing material to Shockwave Flash crashing, so I'm going to post this much while I can).

      (And, by the way, I'm an atheist not a Christian apologist. It is no skin off of my nose either way whether there was a historical Jesus or not.)

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      Catherine Giordano 22 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Mark Zima: He doesn't say anything about what they told him about Jesus. Apostles means the ones who teach Christ's message. Paul was an apostle, but not a disciple (someone who literally followed Christ. In the passage you cited he refers to them as apostles. Brother may refer to a person who is part of your in-group, not necessarily a biological brother. Or it may be an interpolation added by someone at a later date. Just as a similar interpolation was made in the writings of Josephus. The passage is consistent with the conclusion that Christ was a sky-god, an angel, who this new sect was worshipping. If Paul had met people who actually walked with Jesus Christ surely they would have had stories to tell about Christ and Paul surely would have written those stories down.

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      Mark Zima 22 months ago

      What you wrote about Paul making no mention of Jesus's disciples, nor referring to Jesus as a historical man, is not true. Not only does Paul mention spending time with Peter (referred to as Cephus, both Cephus and Peter are different language renditions of "rock"), but Paul also speaks of Jesus having a brother, James:

      Galatians 1: 18-20

      "18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie."

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      Tricia Mason 23 months ago from The English Midlands

      I know what you mean about Ehrman. I think that he can be a bit arrogant. Actually, I felt that he seemed rather uncomfortable discussing his book which asserted that Jesus was real. And he seemed to chang his mind on some points.

      It was Ehrman's assertion that there was more evidence for Jesus than for Caesar that made me contact the English expert on Tome - and then write my hub on the subject.

      I invited Ehrman to respond, but he won't consider the views of 'non-experts' - even highly-qualified ones - so he certainly wouldn't be interested in my thoughts on the subject. So, yes, I think that this might be considered arrogance :)

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      tirelesstraveler: I didn't exactly choose what to believe about Jesus. I researched the issue and went where the evidence led me. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      Judy Specht 23 months ago from California

      The cool thing about Jesus is what you believe about him is your choice. I am most curious about the books you cite.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Trish M: I think Erhman is very arrogant. I'm basing this on two interviews I saw him do. He is very demeaning to anyone who disagrees with him. If you have studied a subject extensively and have demonstrated mastery of the subject, I think you can be considered a scholar. P.S.: In those interviews I heard Erhman say things I knew to be untrue, and then just shout down anyone who tried to question his assertions.

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      Tricia Mason 23 months ago from The English Midlands

      The subject of who can be considered an expert is interesting. I certainly accept that Bart Ehrmann is one (and I like his work), but I am not convinced by his definition of who can be considered one. I have written to an English expert in Roman history and archaeology and used his responses to help me with my hub about Jesus Christ / Julius Caesar but by Ehrman's narrow definition this man would not be accepted as an expert.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      ErlandM: Carrier has degrees in ancient history. He approached the question as a historian. He began as a doubter of the mythicism theory, but his research led him to accept that it as much more probable that Jesus did not exist than that he did. I give his research more credence because he approaches it as a historian and without the biases of Christian scholars. Most Biblical scholars who research Christianity are Christian and most likely are biased.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      ErleanM: This is where I most likely got the information about Roman records of crucifixions. http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm There is no footnote so I don't know where the author got his information. I tried researching this further. There appears to be some who say there are records, and some who say there are no records. Some say there were records because we have references to these records, but the records themselves have not survived. (This brings us to the question of why the church did not preserve the records of Jesus' trial and execution.)

      However, there is a lot of detail about how crucifixion was done. http://www.bible.ca/d-history-archeology-crucifixi...

      I doubt that I have substantiated this point to your satisfaction. However, I made my case on the preponderance of the evidence, not on this one factoid. However, since I can not substantiate it, I will remove it.

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      ErlendM 23 months ago

      To my knowledge only Carrier would reasonably meet the criteria of scholar. Given there are hundreds of atheist, secular historians of early Christianity that is notable, and not the reality that you introduce this article with by saying "many scholars" are mythicists. (Also, if one wanted to be very strict in what is a Biblical scholar then actually Carrier would't qualify- his job is to work for an atheist advocacy group, not a University.)

      I think I have tried my best to look at this topic dispassionately. Is there some merit in mythicism? Yes there is. But it is far from convincing me or many other people with an academic interest in the topic that it is the best hypothesis. Anyway, keep up the research and interest. Don't let the "hit and run" objectors get you down.

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      ErlendM: If I was snarky, I apologize. I don't see a recent comment from you that I replied to and I can't do a search to find you comment. There are almost 500 comments.

      Right now there are only a small number of scholars researching and writing about mythicism. I think this segment will grow rapidly in the next few yews because the case is so compelling. I gave some of my sources in the article itself, but since this was not written to be an academic paper, I didn't do footnotes. This is just an essay discussing ideas.

      I have been doing a lot of additional research since I first wrote and this and everything that I learn convinces me even more that I got it right. I think there is not much on this topic because no one was even willing to ask the question. They always started with the assumption that Jesus existed. Try starting with no assumptions and then see where the evidence takes you. Try reading the books and writings of the scholars making these claims--they will have footnotes that you can check.

      People always get upset when treasured long-held ideas are challenged. No one liked it very much when Copernicus said the Earth revolved around the sun.

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      ErlendM 23 months ago

      Apologies to be posting twice in quick succession, and if my previous remarks came across as abrasive as I think they might have unfortunately done. There is so much that intrigues and excites me in what you have written Catherine. Details about gospel origins, textual criticism, Pauline influences, all of which (despite 11 years of academic research) find no mention in the reams of academic, secular scholarship that is produced every year.

      One claim you made was this: " Indeed, Roman records show that several would-be messiahs were executed," This is remarkable. It, of course, ties in with the premise of your arguments surrounding the apparent lack of contemporary references to Jesus, that there are, well, contemporary sources from Palestine that we can look at! I have occasionally critiqued Jesus mythicists for showing a woeful understanding of the provision of ancient sources from the the times of Jesus (thereby essentially undercutting the assumption of their argument). This though is a fascinating claim you are making and offering to your audience. What Roman records about Jewish executions are you alluding to? Where can they be found?

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      ErlendM 23 months ago

      Catherine,

      I think your reply to me is a bit snarky, but anyway =)

      Well you could be right that my, and all other historians who have looked at this issue, are wrong, but that still doesn't alter that, unless your definition of scholar is so loose to be almost meaningless, you are misrepresenting the field.

      I do think it should cause you to pause whether your arguments and sources (which looking at them again I find need to be so heavily qualified that they almost entirely loose their force) are misleading you. I am sure you have convinced yourself that you are wrong. But in this regard the company you are keeping is most accurately paralleled with creationists, global-warming deniers, 9/11 conspiracy theorists etc... etc.. that profilerate around the internet. Actually I think most of those aforementioned fields get more scholarly, secular support than the theory you are arguing for!

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      Catherine Giordano 23 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Erlend: Unless you have a very lose definition of "true," you would not accept the existence of Jesus on evidence available (which is mostly no evidence.)

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      Erlend 23 months ago

      "Many biblical scholars question whether or not a historical Jesus ever existed"

      Unless you have a very loose definition of "scholar" that is quite evidently not true.

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      Suzette Walker 23 months ago from Taos, NM

      Very interesting and fascinating write. The Bible is of course a book of faith not a book of fact even though there are many that take it as fact. You make some strong arguments for the myth scenario. But, then we are suppose to believe through faith in these stories. You are correct there are no birth records and no burial because conveniently Jesus rose from the dead. We will never know for certain, but your myth argument is a strong one.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Jean Bakula: I am vaguely aware of the Maeve Chronicles. It sounds like a fun read. I'm writing fact, not fiction. This was the first article I wrote on the topic and as I do more and more research, I have become firmly convinced that Jesus story is a myth. I read Bart Ehrman's' book "Misquoting Jesus" and even tho Erhman believes Jesus was a real man, he shows how the Bible was deliberately changed over and over to suit whatever belief the forger wanted to promote. From there it is only a small step to say it is all made up. It was written as metaphor.

      I think those who argue that there was no J in the alphabet are making a weak argument. That is how his name has come to be spelled in English in modern times.

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      Jean Bakula 2 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello Catherine,

      I am just getting ready to read Zealot, and wondered if anyone had reviewed it here at HP. You seem to have done a great job. Although I believe a man named Yeshua Ben Joseph existed, I don't believe in virgin births (as you said, the word has been mistranslated) and find it ridiculous he was the son of God. I don't know if you like historical fiction, but the Maeve Chronicles are a 4 book set who take place during the time Jesus is not mentioned in the Bible. He was in Bard School, near Britain/Ireland, where Joseph of Arimathea planted the bush near the first church. He was only a teen then, and a regular, but very smart and psychic person, who had relationships with women, in particular, Maeve, who grows up to be Mary Magdalene. The author, Elizabeth Cunningham, cites many research sources, and the books give what I believe to be a more accurate picture of who Jesus, the man, really was.

      I saw in the thread that there was no "J" sound. Early in the Chronicles, he goes by the name, "Esus."

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Guiseppe: Thank you for providing this interesting theory. Perhaps other scholars will comment on it.

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      Giuseppe 2 years ago

      It's intriguing but I see that prof Klinghardt (university of Dresda) argues now that the Gospel used by Marcion and marcionites (but not written by him, meaning it didn't reflect originally his 'heretic' theology) was the unique primary and independent source of ALL the other Gospels (canonical and heretical). The source Q didn't exist. Unfortunately, Klinghardt's book is published only in German (at moment).

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Giuseppe: Thanks for the link to Nazarenus, a play written by Seneca. There are no extant copies, but there are some mentions of it in the works of others. This may be the play that I was referencing.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Trish M: The theory that the details of the passion of Jesus come from a play by Seneca is intriguing. There are a few mentions of this play but no extant copies. If true, it would explain a lot. Specifically, the gospel writers got their knowledge of Jesus from this play. Which leads to the next question: Was the play based on the actual person of Jesus or on Paul's vision of Jesus.

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      Tricia Mason 2 years ago from The English Midlands

      I, too, read that it all might have been based on a Seneca play. Certainly an interesting idea.

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      Giuseppe 2 years ago

      Thanks!

      To be honest, I have thought about this:

      http://www.nazarenus.com/

      Did Seneca invent Jesus?

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Giuseppe: It was a theory told to me by Jay Raskin, someone I used to know slightly. He gave a presentation to a secular humanist group that I used to run. (I went through my old files from that group dating back to 2006 to find his name for you.) He wrote a book, "The Evolution of Christs and Christianities." The theory may be in there. It struck me as such a fun idea--Christianity beginning as a play. I don't know that I would put too much credence in it. His amazon bio says he moderates a Yahoo discussion group JesusMysteries and teaches at the University of Phoenix. You can probably track him down and ask him for more information.

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      Giuseppe 2 years ago

      Hi Catherine, hello from Italy,

      I read:

      I have even heard the theory that the story of Jesus arose from a play given by a traveling theater troupe. It’s an interesting theory because it would have been a way to spread an anti-Roman message under the guise of harmless entertainment.

      Can you give more info about who is the proponent of this particular version of Jesus myth theory? I am very curious.

      Very thanks.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Charitot1962: Thanks for your comment. If the message is appealing, it will spread. If the state puts its force behind the message, it will spread. People believe lots of things that aren't true. Islam will soon be the largest religion in the world. When Islam has more followers than Christians, do you think all the Christians must convert? If not, you have just understood the logical fallacy of "argumentum ad populum"--saying something is true because large numbers of people believe it.

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      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 2 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Hello, Ms. Catherine. Thank you, first of all, for presenting such interesting insights here.

      But no matter what the scholars say, I firmly believe that Jesus Christ did exist, that He performed miracles, and that He died on the cross to save us from sin.

      If not, Christianity would not have spread, and the Catholic Church would not exist today.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Jean Bakula: How exciting to see your mention of The Passover Plot. I read it decades ago shortly after graduating from college. It may have shaped my thing about religion. It was fiction but a very plausible account of how things might have happened. I read a similar book about Moses and the Exodus, but I can't recall the name.

      The Maeve book sounds like a historical romance novel. I assume Yeshua was portrayed as psychic revolutionary in the book. sounds like a fun read.

      I kind of stumbled into writing about religion. I think it is like a fascinating puzzle to try to figure out what really happened.

      The JesusPages is a itty and funny way to describe people who lacked the ability to produce original content and so just copied out the Bible. .

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      Jean Bakula 2 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi Catherine,

      You were brave to write these pieces on what I used to call Jesuspages when I first began writing here. People used to copy whole groups of scriptures from the Bible, and I thought it broke the "duplicate content" rule. I don't know your taste in reading (although I read The Passover Plot a long time ago). But if you like fiction, The Maeve Chronicles are hysterical.

      Maeve is a young Celtic maiden who meets Yeshua in Bard school near the British Isles, during his years unaccounted for in the Bible. She gets to know him as a real person, and her observations, and their life long love affair, are very interesting. I think he was the most psychic man who ever lived, and a revolutionary for his message of love, but just a man.

      He felt he had a mission, but was haunted by that almost until his death, and so she was parted from him most of the time. A lot of research went into the books, there are four, so it's not like a Da Vinci code. Anyway, best of luck to you.

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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks once again for your comment. I don't think jonnycomelately meant to be insulting; he just made some generalized observations. I'm glad to hear your university encourages thinking "outside the box" and uses Carrier's text. (Carrier has a few Phd's, but he is not a professor at any college. maybe they will next want to use his other book, "On the Historicity of Jesus.")

      You don't have to be particularly brave to say the Josephus passage is a forgery. Based on my research, that is a widely accepted idea going back for centuries.

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      ErlendM 2 years ago

      jonnycomelately:

      I am in a history department at one of the leading secular Universities in the United Kingdom, so I do not understand your question at all. The "Divinity" part of the department indicates that we also study Christian history- which is not surprising given the huge influence it has had over the West. If you must know one of our scholars is Steve Mason, who mythicists like to cite because he argues that the book of Acts was made in the second century, and plagarized Josephus (again the idea that scholars are constrained to only say palatable things to the church is wrong). In our first year course on the historical Jesus the assigned text (because it is extremely useful) is Carrier's "Proving History". As far as I know we are the first University to have the course text book for a course by a proponent of mythicism. So I have a knowledge and appreciation of this position. So what do you mean "how would you dare to say anything..." ? That is really far too strong a tone, let alone one that has no bearing on reality! Otherwise thank you for the welcome.