Desperately Seeking Jesus
Saving Face: In Search of the Historical Jesus
Similar to their grasping-at-straws Einstein ploy, Christian apologists cling to the “historical Jesus” method of bolstering their proof of god. (I’ll call him “HJ” for brevity from this point forward.)
Under the disingenuous facade of detached fairness, Christians will sometimes step out of their holy cloth and pretend to engage in the secular endeavor of finding the HJ. (They seem to think that this establishes their credibility as fair, unbiased, open-minded skeptics.)
Simply stated, if Christians can prove that Jesus (the man) existed through secular historical record, then the biblical account of his existence (as the savior) is somehow magically validated. No. Not gonna happen. Proving the man does not prove the savior. Doesn’t work that way.
Note that you’ll often see this particular method of proselytizing directed at Jews because they generally accept that Jesus did live during that time in human history. Most Jews won’t deny the historical existence of the man called Jesus. You know the rap. He was a good man, a Jew, a rabbi, a prophet, blah, blah, blah. To your average bible-punching Christian, this is a HUGE base lead (or so they think) in their attempt to win one over for Christ. It gets them one foot in the door before they’ve even uttered a single word of New Testament lore.
Know that my intent here is not to get into all the various historical proofs that refute the existence of the HJ as there are countless sources of related myth-busting information on the internet, admittedly much of which is shoddy if not outright false – chapter one of Zeitgeist being a perfect example. I’ll leave the scholarly endeavor to those who are qualified to make the case. All I’m doing is giving you a frivolous starting point and something to think about.
Disclaimer: In no way am I claiming to be an authority on the subject, nor do I offer anything on this page as absolute proof. My sole intent here is to propose the possibility that Jesus may very well be a mythological figure. It’s just something to chew on based on scattered pieces of compelling facts that may be dovetailed together to solve a very old puzzle. Unlike your average Christian apologist who fears that you just might stumble upon something to the contrary, I encourage your own independent research on the subject. Conclude as you please.
I’ve always maintained that what a person says, does, and believes isn’t nearly as important as why. To me, motive is everything. In the case of the HJ, I think that the case for him is driven by the need to bolster personal theology and protect intellectual integrity – not to validate history. I mean, doesn’t anyone remember this little thing called faith? People who try to prove that which is supposed to be founded in faith do so out of sheer insecurity. Any other reason given is just a bullshit rationalization.
I’m fascinated by the confirmation bias and other motivation theories. It’s a huge part of my dissection of the mechanics of belief. This kind of deeply personal bias has you seeing only what you want, or rather need, to see: that you’re a good parent, that Judy Bigjugs loves you, that Burger King openly mocks Allah, or that your silly imaginary god exists.
And yes, the bias even applies to atheists.
Could there be an atheistic bias to see that no god exists? You bet. But there’s a HUGE difference and there’s no getting around it.
Scholars who lay down the case against the HJ are obviously non-Christian, and most certainly most of them are atheists. Why is this so important to point out? Because they have absolutely nothing at stake theologically regardless of the outcome.
Maybe the historical Jesus really did exist, maybe he didn’t. So what?
Either way, the historical revelation doesn’t conflict with the atheistic position that god doesn’t exist and, therefore, that Jesus wasn’t his son. Okay, so the HJ existed. Big deal. So did the HO (Historical Oprah). But it’s not the same on the flip side of the coin, and that’s the whopper of a difference.
Building a House of Cards
If the person laying claim that HJ existed is a Christian, then the ENTIRE FOUNDATION of their belief system is at stake. The confirmation bias won’t allow them to be wrong. A historical Jesus that never existed is NOT an option, and so they see what they need to see, they find what they need to find. End of discussion.
Many love to argue that even Jewish theologians claim evidence for the HJ. So what? I’m neither impressed nor swayed. Why? Because even Jews have a vested interest in the historical existence of Jesus – but not for what his existence provides, but rather for what the problem of his non-existence presents.
To Jews, if the HJ did exist, the New Testament would be a valid historical account with obvious embellishments for miracles that could not have happened. But most importantly, the historic validity of the New Testament would pose absolutely no threat to Judaic doctrine. It would be a historically correct book about a guy who claimed to be the son of god but really wasn’t, and that would give historical credence to very old face-saving documents of religious doctrine.
To fundamentalist Jews, if the HJ never existed, then those 2000 year old tales would be complete works of fiction. Problem is, that wouldn’t bode well for the validity of the Pentateuch, which contains accounts that date back 5700 years to the creation.
Make no mistake about it. While it certainly wouldn’t destroy the pillars of Judaism, a fictitious Jesus would lay the foundation for plausible Old Testament mythology giving us a fictitious Abraham, Isaac, Ruth, Ester, and an imaginary jawbone of an ass. And fundamentalist Jews cannot allow for the possibility of that.
Christianity comes directly from Judaism, and both religions rely (not heavily but completely) on the validity of very old, directly related documents. So what happens here is nothing more than a little professional courtesy, theologically-speaking. The mutual historic validity of the Old and New Testaments is like two women misrepresenting their true age. You vouch for me, I’ll vouch for you. [elbow poke] Everybody wins, capice?
By the way, this kind of cross-doctrine validation is even seen in Christian apologetics when it appears to support their argument. Some apologists actually declare validity to parts of the Hindu bible (The Gita) and claim that it makes mention of the historical Jesus.
The Jesus Myth
We all know that the Bible was written by a bunch of power hungry men who wanted to control the masses and scare obedience into them. Every word of it a work of fiction – from start to finish. But since we’re exposing the Christ fantasy for what it is, let’s focus on that silly collection of fairy tales that we call the New Testament. It alone may prove that the historical Jesus never existed.
If you study your religious mythology (even poorly) you’ll find many savior gods whose life story closely matches that of Jesus. And here’s the clincher: all of them pre-date the historical Jesus, some by as many as 3,000 years. All of them. Every single one.
Bethlehem, we have a problem…
In his book, “The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama” (1956), Lord Raglan developed a 22-point common trait profile of mythic hero archetypes.
This list of traits represents the sum total of all significant life events and attributes of every mythical literary hero that Raglan could identify:
- Mother is a virgin
- Father is a king
- Often a near relative of his mother, but…
- Circumstances of his conception are unusual
- Reputed to be the son of a god
- At birth an attempt is made (often by his father) to kill him
- Is spirited away
- Reared by foster parents in a far country
- We are told nothing of his childhood
- Upon reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom
- After a victory over the king and/or giant, dragon, or wild beast…
- He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor
- Becomes a king
- Reigns uneventfully for a time
- Prescribes laws, but…
- Loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects
- Is driven from the throne and city
- Meets with a mysterious death…
- At the top of a hill
- His children, if any, do not succeed him
- Body is buried, but nevertheless
- Has one or more holy sepulchers
Out of 22 possible points, Jesus tied King Arthur with a score of 19. (Woo-hoo!) But they were both bested by Oedipus and Krishna who slam-dunked a nearly perfect score of 21, and by Theseus who finished with an impressive 20. Romulus and Hercules trailed behind with 17.
Of course this is proof of nothing, but it should give you something to consider. From a literary perspective, there is very little originality left in the world.
You can buy Raglan’s book on Amazon.com for about $12.
The Greatest Story Ever Re-Told
Remember all that crap they crammed down your throat in Sunday school? Well, let’s have a little review. Any of this sound familiar?
- Born of a virgin
- Born on December 25
- Stars appeared at his birth
- Visited by Magi from the East
- Turned water into wine
- Healed the sick
- Cast out demons
- Performed miracles
- Transfigured before followers
- Rode [a donkey] into the city
- Betrayed [for 30 pieces of silver]
- Celebrated a communal meal [with bread and wine to represent flesh and blood]
- Killed [on a cross or a tree]
- Descended into hell
- Resurrected [on the third day]
- Ascended into heaven [to forever sit beside father god]
- Become divine judge
Yeah, well guess what. What you just read is a list of some of the attributes of other historically documented savior gods, all of which pre-date Jesus.
“When we say that Jesus Christ was produced without sexual union, was crucified and died and rose again, and ascended to heaven, we propound from what you believe regarding those whom you call the sons of Jupiter.” – Justin Martyr, church father
Been There, Done That
Here are just a few (of many) historically documented mythological gods to get you started on your search for the origin of the Jesus myth:
- Mithra Attis (1200 BC)
- Osiris Dionysus (500 BC)
- Horus (3000 BC)
Admittedly, not all of the aforementioned attributes apply to each of the gods listed above. As previously conceded, my intent here is to illustrate the quantity of god myths and how closely the attributes align. And I’m not even suggesting that they’re identical – just close enough to warrant some introspection and interrogation. Given the age of these stories, no one would expect them to be absolutely identical in nature. The compelling factors are their amazing similarities and the fact that they all pre-date the savior god called Jesus.
Check it out for yourself. Google their names and read whatever you find even if it was written by a Christian apologist. (This is critical as even they won’t deny the existence and stark similarity of these myths.) The stories will bear a freakish resemblance to what you learned in Sunday school, but all by a different name and prior time in history.
The names, locales, and other minor points may vary, but what matters most is the fact that there are many of them, they are all historically documented, and they all pre-date the historical Jesus.
Remember, you won’t find even one other savior god myth that followed that of the alleged Jesus of Nazareth. His was the most recent incarnation of the fairytale. And it stuck.
Given all this, it’s the official response of the Christian apologist community that gives us cause to consider that what they fear most might actually be true.
Even the most rabid fundamentalist Christian won’t deny that these mythologies exist, that they’re dead-on accurate in far too many ways to dismiss them all as sheer coincidence, and that they all pre-date the historical Jesus. To argue any of the aforementioned would destroy their credibility and lose their audience. And as we all know, those who preach are all about the audience.
But they can’t let this one slide by else the ENTIRE foundation of their belief system would be destroyed. No historical Jesus, no Christianity. Game over.
So where do they go from here? They need a defense and all they have are two options.
Option 1: SATAN!
Yes folks, the Devil did it. The official position of the church is that Satan created these myths long before Jesus was born and brought them to mankind.
Apparently, Satan planted this unholy seed in Trojan Horse style to weave these mythologies into the fabric of the modern culture of the time. This brilliant maneuver would make dumb schmucks like me and you debate the topic ad nauseum thousands of years later.
Your knee-jerk reaction is probably to reject this option as there’s no way any intelligent person would believe (let alone argue) this position. But if you think about it, it’s perfectly in keeping with Christian doctrine. These wackos believe that Satan is real. And he lies. The evil little fucker’s job is to draw man away from god, and this nefarious ruse is just one of the many ways in which he pulls that off.
Option 2: Distort & Delude
You might want to take a few hits of acid before continuing. You’ll have to lose touch with all reality in order to accept the mind-numbingly stupid rationalization they’re expecting you to buy.
While the first option is completely valid to even the most intelligent, articulate, and well-educated Christian apologist, they know that militant skeptics would just laugh at them the instant it rolls off their tongue. And so a more (seemingly) academic tactic is preferred.
This second option requires a profound distortion of Old Testament lore.
What these panicky apologists do is attempt to turn the tables. They actually argue that it was the authors of the older pagan doctrines who stole the story of Jesus! But wait a second. How is that possible? After all, we all know that pagan mythologies were authored long before Christ was even born.
Brace yourself kids. Apologists actually have the temerity to claim that these pagan religions stole the story of Jesus from the OLD Testament! (No lie.)
But how can they claim such a thing you ask? Like I said before, distort and delude.
For example, apologists claim that Psalm 22:1-18 speaks of the crucifixion. Read it and decide for yourself. They also claim proof in Zechariah 12:10. Read it twice folks, pay attention and take notes because you won’t find one word of it. Not a one. But we’re not done yet, kids. This is where the delusion part comes into play.
What you need to do now is reach down deep inside your heart and convince yourself that the following verse was used by several independent pagan religions to derive the crucifixion of a savior god who was to be born 1,300 years later:
“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”
Okay, let me get this straight. Whom they have pierced? His only son? That’s it? That’s the best you’ve got?
Listen up, morons. I admire your passion, but you have no argument here. Yours is the foundation of an incredibly wild stretch of a drug-altered imagination – at best.
The bible is allegedly the perfect, inerrant word of an all-powerful, all- knowing god. I think the skill set of such a well-equipped deity would include the ability to be a little clearer on the matter. After all, he certainly was in his New Testament account. Sorry, but you’re drawing a dead hand if you think such vague and unqualified generalities are going to stand as proof.
And all this notwithstanding, even if I were to buy such a weak interpretation of Zechariah 12:10, death by crucifixion is only one tiny part of all of the aforementioned dead-on accurate life events you’d have to account for.
But, okay. Fine. I might be swayed to concede a few minor points as sheer crazy coincidence, but to argue all of them as Christian apologists do would be the most offensive, shameful, and egregious act of special pleading in the history of mankind.
Of all the prior savior gods, Mithra is clearly the most threatening to the historical Jesus because of its dead-on accuracy. And it scares the shit out of your average Christian apologist – although they’re quite good at pretending otherwise. But playing it cool doesn’t make the problem go away. I challenge you to do your own research. Listen to every inane argument that the apologist of your choice vomit forth.
If you don’t know where to start, visit the folks over at Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM). Their top guy, Matt Slick, is a deeply religiously deluded fellow, but he’s awfully nice and will likely answer any question you may have. Study all of CARM’s evidences to support their collective confirmation bias. I strongly encourage you to examine each of their Old and New Testament cross-references and decide for yourself who stole what from whom.
Let their words be the strongest case against them.
Silence: The Final Nail in the Coffin
The fact that these ancient pagan myths are never taught in Sunday school is one of the most compelling reasons to reject all apologetic refutations. I mean, who sells a used car and volunteers that it was nearly demolished in an accident or that the transmission is three starts away from hitting asphalt?
Like a textbook defense attorney tactic, damning evidences are addressed only when those with something to hide are forced to defend against them.
Case in point (and this is just one of many), I present to you the disingenuous coward J.P. Holding. Read his pathetic attempt to “shatter” [his word] the Jesus Myth. Take note that there is not one single mention of the aforementioned savior gods. Not a one. This is decidedly convenient for the man as well as his delusion. The first sentence of his lecture begins with, “It is a sure sign of desperation…”
Yes Mr. Holding. It certainly is.
For those of you who are on the fence, I would encourage you to watch the documentary The God Who Wasn’t There (Brian Flemming, 2005). It covers in great detail all that we’ve discussed here. Buy it on Amazon.com for about 20 bucks.