Did Jesus Exist?

Authors

Introduction

This article is posted here mostly for reference purposes and for quotations for my writings.

THE BIBLE GOSPELS

The most “authoritative” accounts of a historical Jesus come from the four canonical Gospels of the Bible. Note that these Gospels did not come into the Bible as original and authoritative from the authors themselves, but rather from the influence of early church fathers, especially the most influential of them all: Irenaeus of Lyon who lived in the middle of the second century. Many heretical gospels existed by that time, but Irenaeus considered only some of them for mystical reasons. He claimed only four in number; according to Romer, “like the four zones of the world, the four winds, the four divisions of man’s estate, and the four forms of the first living creatures– the lion of Mark, the calf of Luke, the man of Matthew, the eagle of John (see Against the Heresies). The four gospels then became Church cannon for the orthodox faith. Most of the other claimed gospel writings were burned, destroyed, or lost.” [Romer]

Elaine Pagels writes: “Although the gospels of the New Testament– like those discovered at Nag Hammadi– are attributed to Jesus’ followers, no one knows who actually wrote any of them.” [Pagels, 1995]

Not only do we not know who wrote them, consider that none of the Gospels existed during the alleged life of Jesus, nor do the unknown authors make the claim to have met an earthly Jesus. Add to this that none of the original gospel manuscripts exist; we only have copies of copies.

The consensus of many biblical historians put the dating of the earliest Gospel, that of Mark, at sometime after 70 C.E., and the last Gospel, John after 90 C.E. [Pagels, 1995; Helms]. This would make it some 40 years after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus that we have any Gospel writings that mention him! Elaine Pagels writes that “the first Christian gospel was probably written during the last year of the war, or the year it ended. Where it was written and by whom we do not know; the work is anonymous, although tradition attributes it to Mark…” [Pagels, 1995]

The traditional Church has portrayed the authors as the apostles Mark, Luke, Matthew, & John, but scholars know from critical textural research that there simply occurs no evidence that the gospel authors could have served as the apostles described in the Gospel stories. Yet even today, we hear priests and ministers describing these authors as the actual disciples of Christ. Many Bibles still continue to label the stories as “The Gospel according to St. Matthew,” “St. Mark,” “St. Luke,” St. John.” No apostle would have announced his own sainthood before the Church’s establishment of sainthood. But one need not refer to scholars to determine the lack of evidence for authorship. As an experiment, imagine the Gospels without their titles. See if you can find out from the texts who wrote them; try to find their names.

Even if the texts supported the notion that the apostles wrote them, consider the low life expectancy of humans in the first century. According to the religious scholar, J.D. Crossan, “the life expectancy of Jewish males in the Jewish state was then twenty-nine years.” [Crossan] Some people think this age appears deceptive because of the high infant mortally rates at birth. However, at birth the inhabitants of the Roman Empire had an even lower life expectancy of around twenty-five years. [source] According to Ulpian, a Roman jurist of the early third century C.E., the average life expectancy at birth came even lower to around twenty-one. [Potter] Of course these ages represent averages and some people lived after the age of 30, but how many? According to the historian Richard Carrier: “We have reason to believe that only 4% of the population at any given time was over 50 years old; over age 70, less than 2%. And that is under normal circumstances. But the Gospels were written after two very devastating abnormal events: the Jewish War and the Neronian Persecution, both of which would have, combined, greatly reduced the life expectancy of exactly those people who were eye-witnesses to the teachings of Jesus. And it just so happens that these sorts of people are curiously missing from the historical record precisely when the Gospels began to be circulated.” [Carrier] Even if they lived to those unlikely ages, consider the mental and physical toll (especially during the 1st century) which would have likely reduced their memory and capability to write. Moreover, those small percentages of people who lived past 50 years were usually wealthy people (aristocrats, politicians, land and slave owners, etc.). However, the Gospels suggest that the followers of Jesus lived poorly, and this would further reduce the chances for a long life span. Although the New Testament does not provide the ages of the disciples, most Christians think their ages came to around 20-30 years old. Jesus’ birth would have to have occurred before Herod’s death at 4 B.C.E. So if Jesus’ birth occurred in the year 4 B.C.E., that would put the age of the disciples, at the time of the writing of the first gospel, at around age 60-70 and the last gospel at around age 90-100! Based on just life expectancies alone, that would make the probability unlikely they lived during the writing of the first gospel, and extremely unlikely any of them lived during the writing of the last gospel (and I have used only the most conservative numbers).

The gospel of Mark describes the first written Bible gospel. And although Mark appears deceptively after the Matthew gospel, the gospel of Mark got written at least a generation before Matthew. From its own words, one can deduce that the author of Mark had neither heard Jesus nor served as his personal follower. Whoever wrote the gospel simply accepted the story of Jesus without question and wrote a crude an ungrammatical account of the popular story at the time. Historians tell us of the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), Mark served as the common element between Matthew and Luke and provided the main source for both of them. Of Mark’s 666* verses, some 600 appear in Matthew, some 300 in Luke. According to Randel Helms, the author of Mark, stands at least a third remove from Jesus and more likely at the fourth remove. [Helms]

* Most Bibles show 678 verses for Mark, not 666, but many Biblical scholars think the last 12 verses came later from interpolation. The earliest manuscripts and other ancient sources do not have Mark 16: 9-20. Moreover the text style does not match and the transition between verse 8 and 9 appears awkward. Even some of today’s Bibles such as the NIV exclude the last 12 verses.

The author of Matthew had obviously gotten his information from Mark’s gospel and used them for his own needs. He fashioned his narrative to appeal to Jewish tradition and Scripture. He improved the grammar of Mark’s Gospel, corrected what he felt theologically important, and heightened the miracles and magic.

The author of Luke admits himself as an interpreter of earlier material and not an eyewitness (Luke 1:1-4). Many scholars think the author of Luke lived as a gentile, or at the very least, a Hellenized Jew. Many modern scholars think that the Gospel of Matthew and Luke came from the Mark gospel and a hypothetical document called “Q” .(German Quelle, which means “source”). [Helms; Wilson] . However, since we have no manuscript from Q, no one could possibly determine its author or where or how he got his information or the date of its authorship. Moreover, some scholars challenge its existence and those who do think that Q existed have problems explaining it. Again we get faced with unreliable methodology and obscure sources.

John, the last appearing Bible Gospel, presents us with long theological discourses from Jesus and could not possibly have come as literal words from a historical Jesus. The Gospel of John disagrees with events described in Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Moreover the unknown author(s) of this gospel wrote it in Greek near the end of the first century, and according to Bishop Shelby Spong, the book “carried within it a very obvious reference to the death of John Zebedee (John 21:23).” [Spong]

Please understand that the stories themselves cannot serve as examples of eyewitness accounts since they came as products of the minds of the unknown authors, and not from the characters themselves. The Gospels describe narrative stories, written almost virtually in the third person. People who wish to portray themselves as eyewitnesses will write in the first person, not in the third person. Moreover, many of the passages attributed to Jesus could only have come from the invention of its authors. For example, many of the statements of Jesus claim to have come from him while allegedly alone. If so, who heard him? It becomes even more marked when the evangelists report about what Jesus thought. To whom did Jesus confide his thoughts? Clearly, the Gospels employ techniques that fictional writers use. In any case the Gospels can only serve, at best, as hearsay, and at worst, as fictional, mythological, or falsified stories.

QUOTES FROM A FEW SCHOLARS:

Although the majority of scholars today believe that a Jesus lived on earth, the reasons for this appear suspicious once you consider the history and evolution of Jesus scholarship. Hundreds of years ago all Biblical scholars believed in God. Considering their Christian beliefs, they would, of course, believe in a historical Jesus. In the last two centuries, the school has loosened up a bit, and today they even allow atheists into their study rooms. But even today you had better allude to a historical Jesus even if you question the reliability of the sources, otherwise, you may not have a job. If, indeed, Bible scholars did allow skeptics of a historical Jesus into their studies, and they presented a convincing case, that could threaten the very branch of Jesus scholarship that studied a historical Jesus. It could very well disappear like that of euhermerism.

Although some secular freethinkers and atheists accept a historical Jesus (minus the miracles), they, like most Christians, simply accept the traditional view without question. As time goes on, more and more scholars have begun to open the way to a more honest look at the evidence, or should I say, the lack of evidence. So for those who wish to rely on scholarly opinion, I will give a few quotes from Biblical researchers and scholars, past and present:

When the Church mythologists established their system, they collected all the writings they could find and managed them as they pleased. It is a matter altogether of uncertainty to us whether such of the writings as now appear under the name of the Old and New Testaments are in the same state in which those collectors say they found them, or whether they added, altered, abridged or dressed them up.

-Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason)

The world has been for a long time engaged in writing lives of Jesus… The library of such books has grown since then. But when we come to examine them, one startling fact confronts us: all of these books relate to a personage concerning whom there does not exist a single scrap of contemporary information — not one! By accepted tradition he was born in the reign of Augustus, the great literary age of the nation of which he was a subject. In the Augustan age historians flourished; poets, orators, critics and travelers abounded. Yet not one mentions the name of Jesus Christ, much less any incident in his life.
-Moncure D. Conway [1832 – 1907] (Modern Thought)

It is only in comparatively modern times that the possibility was considered that Jesus does not belong to history at all.

-J.M. Robertson (Pagan Christs)

Many people– then and now– have assumed that these letters [of Paul] are genuine, and five of them were in fact incorporated into the New Testament as “letters of Paul.” Even today, scholars dispute which are authentic and which are not. Most scholars, however, agree that Paul actually wrote only eight of the thirteen “Pauline” letters now included in the New Testament. collection: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Virtually all scholars agree that Paul himself did not write 1 or 2 Timothy or Titus– letters written in a style different from Paul’s and reflecting situations and viewpoints in a style different from those in Paul’s own letters. About the authorship of Ephesias, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians, debate continues; but the majority of scholars include these, too, among the “deutero-Pauline”– literally, secondarily Pauline– letters.”

-Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, (Adam, Eve, and the Serpent)

We know virtually nothing about the persons who wrote the gospels we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

-Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, (The Gnostic Gospels)

Some hoped to penetrate the various accounts and to discover the “historical Jesus”. . . and that sorting out “authentic” material in the gospels was virtually impossible in the absence of independent evidence.”

-Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University

The gospels are so anonymous that their titles, all second-century guesses, are all four wrong.

-Randel McCraw Helms (Who Wrote the Gospels?)

Far from being an intimate of an intimate of Jesus, Mark wrote at the forth remove from Jesus.

-Randel McCraw Helms (Who Wrote the Gospels?)

Mark himself clearly did not know any eyewitnesses of Jesus.

-Randel McCraw Helms (Who Wrote the Gospels?)

All four gospels are anonymous texts. The familiar attributions of the Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John come from the mid-second century and later and we have no good historical reason to accept these attributions.

-Steve Mason, professor of classics, history and religious studies at York University in Toronto (Bible Review, Feb. 2000, p. 36)

The question must also be raised as to whether we have the actual words of Jesus in any Gospel.

-Bishop John Shelby Spong

But even if it could be proved that John’s Gospel had been the first of the four to be written down, there would still be considerable confusion as to who “John” was. For the various styles of the New Testament texts ascribed to John- The Gospel, the letters, and the Book of Revelations– are each so different in their style that it is extremely unlikely that they had been written by one person.

-John Romer, archeologist & Bible scholar (Testament)

It was not until the third century that Jesus’ cross of execution became a common symbol of the Christian faith.

-John Romer, archeologist & Bible scholar (Testament)

What one believes and what one can demonstrate historically are usually two different things.

-Robert J. Miller, Bible scholar, (Bible Review, December 1993, Vol. IX, Number 6, p. 9)

When it comes to the historical question about the Gospels, I adopt a mediating position– that is, these are religious records, close to the sources, but they are not in accordance with modern historiographic requirements or professional standards.

-David Noel Freedman, Bible scholar and general editor of the Anchor Bible series (Bible Review, December 1993, Vol. IX, Number 6, p.34)

Paul did not write the letters to Timothy to Titus or several others published under his name; and it is unlikely that the apostles Matthew, James, Jude, Peter and John had anything to do with the canonical books ascribed to them.

-Michael D. Coogan, Professor of religious studies at Stonehill College (Bible Review, June 1994)

A generation after Jesus’ death, when the Gospels were written, the Romans had destroyed the Jerusalem Temple (in 70 C.E.); the most influential centers of Christianity were cities of the Mediterranean world such as Alexandria, Antioch, Corinth, Damascus, Ephesus and Rome. Although large number of Jews were also followers of Jesus, non-Jews came to predominate in the early Church. They controlled how the Gospels were written after 70 C.E.

-Bruce Chilton, Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College (Bible Review, Dec. 1994, p. 37)

James Dunn says that the Sermon on the Mount, mentioned only by Matthew, “is in fact not historical.”

How historical can the Gospels be? Are Murphy-O-Conner’s speculations concerning Jesus’ baptism by John simply wrong-headed? How can we really know if the baptism, or any other event written about in the Gospels, is historical?

-Daniel P. Sullivan (Bible Review, June 1996, Vol. XII, Number 3, p. 5)

David Friedrich Strauss (The Life of Jesus, 1836), had argued that the Gospels could not be read as straightforward accounts of what Jesus actually did and said; rather, the evangelists and later redactors and commentators, influenced by their religious beliefs, had made use of myths and legends that rendered the gospel narratives, and traditional accounts of Jesus’ life, unreliable as sources of historical information.

-Bible Review, October 1996, Vol. XII, Number 5, p. 39

The Gospel authors were Jews writing within the midrashic tradition and intended their stories to be read as interpretive narratives, not historical accounts.

-Bishop Shelby Spong, Liberating the Gospels

Other scholars have concluded that the Bible is the product of a purely human endeavor, that the identity of the authors is forever lost and that their work has been largely obliterated by centuries of translation and editing.

-Jeffery L. Sheler, “Who Wrote the Bible,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

Yet today, there are few Biblical scholars– from liberal skeptics to conservative evangelicals- who believe that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John actually wrote the Gospels. Nowhere do the writers of the texts identify themselves by name or claim unambiguously to have known or traveled with Jesus.

-Jeffery L. Sheler, “The Four Gospels,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

Once written, many experts believe, the Gospels were redacted, or edited, repeatedly as they were copied and circulated among church elders during the last first and early second centuries.

-Jeffery L. Sheler, “The Four Gospels,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

The tradition attributing the fourth Gospel to the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee, is first noted by Irenaeus in A.D. 180. It is a tradition based largely on what some view as the writer’s reference to himself as “the beloved disciple” and “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Current objection to John’s authorship are based largely on modern textural analyses that strongly suggest the fourth Gospel was the work of several hands, probably followers of an elderly teacher in Asia Minor named John who claimed as a young man to have been a disciple of Jesus.

-Jeffery L. Sheler, “The Four Gospels,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

Some scholars say so many revisions occurred in the 100 years following Jesus’ death that no one can be absolutely sure of the accuracy or authenticity of the Gospels, especially of the words the authors attributed to Jesus himself.

-Jeffery L. Sheler, “The catholic papers,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

Three letters that Paul allegedly wrote to his friends and former co-workers Timothy and Titus are now widely disputed as having come from Paul’s hand.

-Jeffery L. Sheler, “The catholic papers,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

The Epistle of James is a practical book, light on theology and full of advice on ethical behavior. Even so, its place in the Bible has been challenged repeatedly over the years. It is generally believed to have been written near the end of the first century to Jewish Christians. . . but scholars are unable conclusively to identify the writer.

Five men named James appear in the New Testament: the brother of Jesus, the son of Zebedee, the son of Alphaeus, “James the younger” and the father of the Apostle Jude.

Little is known of the last three, and since the son of Zebedee was martyred in A.D. 44, tradition has leaned toward the brother of Jesus. However, the writer never claims to be Jesus’ brother. And scholars find the language too erudite for a simple Palestinian. This letter is also disputed on theological grounds. Martin Luther called it “an epistle of straw” that did not belong in the Bible because it seemed to contradict Paul’s teachings that salvation comes by faith as a “gift of God”– not by good works.

-Jeffery L. Sheler, “The catholic papers,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

The origins of the three letters of John are also far from certain.

-Jeffery L. Sheler, “The catholic papers,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

Christian tradition has held that the Apostle Peter wrote the first [letter], probably in Rome shortly before his martyrdom about A.D. 65. However, some modern scholars cite the epistle’s cultivated language and its references to persecutions that did not occur until the reign of Domitian (A.D. 81-96) as evidence that it was actually written by Peter’s disciples sometime later.

Second Peter has suffered even harsher scrutiny. Many scholars consider it the latest of all New Testament books, written around A.D. 125. The letter was never mentioned in second-century writings and was excluded from some church canons into the fifth century. “This letter cannot have been written by Peter,” wrote Werner Kummel, a Heidelberg University scholar, in his highly regarded Introduction to the New Testament.

-Jeffery L. Sheler, “The catholic papers,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

The letter of Jude also is considered too late to have been written by the attested author– “the brother of James” and, thus, of Jesus. The letter, believed written early in the second century.

-Jeffery L. Sheler, “The catholic papers,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

According to the declaration of the Second Vatican Council, a faithful account of the actions and words of Jesus is to be found in the Gospels; but it is impossible to reconcile this with the existence in the text of contradictions, improbabilities, things which are materially impossible or statements which run contrary to firmly established reality.

-Maurice Bucaille (The Bible, the Quran, and Science)

The bottom line is we really don’t know for sure who wrote the Gospels.

-Jerome Neyrey, of the Weston School of Theology, Cambridge, Mass. in “The Four Gospels,” (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

Most scholars have come to acknowledge, was done not by the Apostles but by their anonymous followers (or their followers’ followers). Each presented a somewhat different picture of Jesus’ life. The earliest appeared to have been written some 40 years after his Crucifixion.

-David Van Biema, “The Gospel Truth?” (Time, April 8, 1996)

So unreliable were the Gospel accounts that “we can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus.”

-Rudolf Bultmann, University of Marburg, the foremost Protestant scholar in the field in 1926

The Synoptic Gospels employ techniques that we today associate with fiction.

-Paul Q. Beeching, Central Connecticut State University (Bible Review, June 1997, Vol. XIII, Number 3, p. 43)

Josephus says that he himself witnessed a certain Eleazar casting out demons by a method of exorcism that had been given to Solomon by God himself– while Vespasian watched! In the same work, Josephus tells the story of a rainmaker, Onias (14.2.1).

-Paul Q. Beeching, Central Connecticut State University (Bible Review, June 1997, Vol. XIII, Number 3, p. 43)

For Mark’s gospel to work, for instance, you must believe that Isaiah 40:3 (quoted, in a slightly distorted form, in Mark 1:2-3) correctly predicted that a stranger named John would come out of the desert to prepare the way for Jesus. It will then come as something of a surprise to learn in the first chapter of Luke that John is a near relative, well known to Jesus’ family.

-Paul Q. Beeching, Central Connecticut State University (Bible Review, June 1997, Vol. XIII, Number 3, p. 43)

The narrative conventions and world outlook of the gospel prohibit our using it as a historical record of that year.

-Paul Q. Beeching, Central Connecticut State University (Bible Review, June 1997, Vol. XIII, Number 3, p. 54)

Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it.

-C. Dennis McKinsey, Bible critic (The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy)

The gospels are very peculiar types of literature. They’re not biographies.

-Paula Fredriksen, Professor and historian of early Christianity, Boston University (in the PBS documentary, From Jesus to Christ, aired in 1998)

The gospels are not eyewitness accounts

-Allen D. Callahan, Associate Professor of New Testament, Harvard Divinity School

We are led to conclude that, in Paul’s past, there was no historical Jesus. Rather, the activities of the Son about which God’s gospel in scripture told, as interpreted by Paul, had taken place in the spiritual realm and were accessible only through revelation.

-Earl Doherty, “The Jesus Puzzle,” p.83

Before the Gospels were adopted as history, no record exists that he was ever in the city of Jerusalem at all– or anywhere else on earth.

-Earl Doherty, “The Jesus Puzzle,” p.141

Even if there was a historical Jesus lying back of the gospel Christ, he can never be recovered. If there ever was a historical Jesus, there isn’t one any more. All attempts to recover him turn out to be just modern remythologizings of Jesus. Every “historical Jesus” is a Christ of faith, of somebody’s faith. So the “historical Jesus” of modern scholarship is no less a fiction.

-Robert M. Price, “Jesus: Fact or Fiction, A Dialogue With Dr. Robert Price and Rev. John Rankin,” Opening Statement

It is important to recognize the obvious: The gospel story of Jesus is itself apparently mythic from first to last.

-Robert M. Price, professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute (Deconstructing Jesus, p. 260)

CONCLUSION

Belief cannot produce historical fact, and claims that come from nothing but hearsay do not amount to an honest attempt to get at the facts. Even with eyewitness accounts we must tread carefully. Simply because someone makes a claim, does not mean it represents reality. For example, consider some of the bogus claims that supposedly come from many eyewitness accounts of alien extraterrestrials and their space craft. They not only assert eyewitnesses but present blurry photos to boot! If we can question these accounts, then why should we not question claims that come from hearsay even more? Moreover, consider that the hearsay comes from ancient and unknown people that no longer live.

Unfortunately, belief and faith substitute as knowledge in many people’s minds and nothing, even direct evidence thrust on the feet of their claims, could possibly change their minds. We have many stories, myths and beliefs of a Jesus but if we wish to establish the facts of history, we cannot even begin to put together a knowledgeable account without at least a few reliable eyewitness accounts.

Of course a historical Jesus may have existed, perhaps based loosely on a living human even though his actual history got lost, but this amounts to nothing but speculation. However we do have an abundance of evidence supporting the mythical evolution of Jesus. Virtually every detail in the gospel stories occurred in pagan and/or Hebrew stories, long before the advent of Christianity. We simply do not have a shred of evidence to determine the historicity of a Jesus “the Christ.” We only have evidence for the belief of Jesus.

So if you hear anyone who claims to have evidence for a witness of a historical Jesus, simply ask for the author’s birth date. Anyone whose birth occurred after an event cannot serve as an eyewitness, nor can their words alone serve as evidence for that event.


Sources (click on a blue highlighted title if you’d like to obtain it or read it):

Briant, Pierre, “Alexander the Great: Man of Action Man of Spirit,” Harry N. Abrams, 1996

Carrier, Richard, “Reply to McFall on Jesus as a Philosopher (2004)

Crossan, J.D., “Jesus: a revolutionry biography,” HarperOne, 1995

Doherty, Earl, “The Jesus Puzzle,” Canadian Humanist Publications, 1999

Flavius, Josephus (37 or 38-circa 101 C.E.), Antiquities

Gauvin, Marshall J., “Did Jesus Christ Really Live?” (from: http://www.infidels.org/)

Gould, Stephen Jay “Dinosaur in a Haystack,” (Chapter 2), Harmony Books, New York, 1995

Graham, Henry Grey, Rev., “Where we got the Bible,” B. Heder Book Company, 1960

Helms, Randel McCraw , “Who Wrote the Gospels?“, Millennium Press, 1997

Irenaeus of Lyon (140?-202? C.E.), Against the Heresies

McKinsey, C. Dennis “The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy,” Prometheus Books, 1995

Metzger, Bruce,”The Text of the New Testament– Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration,” Oxford University Press, 1968

Pagels, Elaine, “The Gnostic Gospels,” Vintage Books, New York, 1979

Pagels, Elaine, “Adam, Eve, and the Serpent,” Vintage Books, New York, 1988

Pagels, Elaine, “The Origin of Satan,” Random House, New York, 1995

Potter, David Stone, Mattingly, Dr. David J., “Life, Death, and Entertainment in the Roman Empire, Univ. of Michigan Press, 2010

Price, Robert M.,” Deconstructing Jesus,” Prometheus Books, 2000

Pritchard, John Paul, “A Literary Approach to the New Testament,” Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1972

Robertson, J.M. “Pagan Christs,” Barnes & Noble Books, 1966

Romer, John, “Testament : The Bible and History,” Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1988

Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, “A History of Biblical Literature,” New American Library, 1962

Spong, Bishop Shelby, “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism,” HarperSanFrancisco, 1991

Tacitus (55?-117? C.E.), Annals

Wilson, Dorothy Frances, “The Gospel Sources, some results of modern scholarship,” London, Student Christian Movement press, 1938

The Revell Bible Dictionary,” Wynwood Press, New York, 1990

King James Bible, 1611

U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990

Various issues of Bible Review magazine, published by the Biblical Archaeology Society, Washington D.C.

Online sources:

[1]  Epistle of James, from Theopedia

[2]  Epistles of John, Wikipedia

[3]  First Epistle of Peter, from Theopedia

[4]  Second Epistle of Peter, from Theopedia [1]

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NO HISTORICAL EVIDENCE OF JESUS

Christianity-Revealed

 

There is no historical reference to Jesus’ life, death or the crucifixion―nothing at all. John E. Remsburg, in his classic book The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence1 lists the following contemporary historians/writers who lived during the time, or within a century after the time, that Jesus was supposed to have lived:

Apollonius Persius                                    Appian Petronius
Arrian Phaedrus                                        Aulus Gellius Philo-Judaeus
Columella Phlegon                                    Damis Pliny the Elder
Dio Chrysostom Pliny the Younger             Dion Pruseus Plutarch
Epictetus Pompon Mela                             Favorinus Ptolemy
Florus Lucius Quintilian                             Hermogones Quintius Curtius
Josephus Seneca                                       Justus of Tiberius Silius Italicus
Juvenal Statius                                          Lucanus Suetonius
Lucian Tacitus                                           Lysias Theon of Smyran
Martial Valerius Flaccus                             Paterculus Valerius Maximus
Pausanias

According to Remsburg,

“Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.”

Nor, we may add, do any of these authors make note of the disciples or apostles; increasing the embarrassment from the silence of history concerning the foundation of Christianity. In other words, the only information of the life of Jesus comes from Christian believers.

Reason would dictate that if all the miracles which Jesus supposedly performed or surrounded him:

1. Being born of a virgin mother;

2. Three Magi following the brightest star forever to see the demigod;

3. The slaying of the innocent babies;

4. Raising the dead, healing the blind and lame;

4. Having the sky turn to blackness when Jesus died;

5. Earthquakes in the region;

6. The zombie saints coming out of their graves going to Jerusalem; and

7. The Resurrection.

that at least one of these world headline news events would have at least a small mention by at least one of the foregoing historian and writers. But, NO, they are totally silent!

Only Christian writers wrote about this. Do you think they were biased? Were the stories true or did these writers just continue the myth? Were they trying to promote a new religion, based upon Paul using the Jesus’ myth? And so the fiction continues to this day.

Pastors today, often when they talk to a disbelieves in Jesus, often ask; ― not expecting an answer, but designed to throw the missionary ‘target’ off balance ― “Was Jesus a fraud, a liar, a lunatic?” Isn’t it strange that they never mention that the Christian bible records that even Jesus’ direct family thought he was mad? And Mary, his mother never thought of him as “divine.”

ABC News, and Peter Jennings could not go far enough in their presentation a few years ago of the Historical Jesus. Jennings presentation did not convince his audience without any benefit of doubt that Jesus existed, other than in mythical form.  Dr. James Kennedy, of Orlando, Fla. (The famous Presbyterian minister with several Doctorate degrees in Theology and former aid to Billy Graham) also, could not come up with any real evidence on his TV show to refute Peter Jennings or others from Oxford University on the lack of historical evidence.

Evangelical Christians will not accept real proof, for they feel the professors at Oxford and anywhere else who claim Jesus did not exist are liberals or atheist of sorts.

Christians have said to Jews who reject Jesus, ‘OK...let’s see you providehistorical evidence for the existence of characters in theHebrew bible. i.e. Moses or Noah. However, in this line of reasoning, Christians forget that they have already accepted the Hebrew bible; that the episodes  told therein actually happened. That is why a version of the Old Testament is located at the front of the Christian bible for reference and authority.

Those 21 great writers of the Greco-Roman world, whose combined work would fill a library did not write or allude to any thesis that god became man, walked the earth, died, was resurrected, and is now the Invisible Man in the Sky. There is not a single third party historical witness for confirmation, and not one single mention of a god walking the earth in any of the volumes of the combined work from the great writers of the period.

Again, I restate the obvious, yet in this mass of literature, “aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.” Nor, do any of these authors make note of the disciples or apostles; increasing the embarrassment from the silence of history concerning the foundation of Christianity. In other words, the only information on the life of Jesus comes from Christian believers.

This alone should make anyone think twice before swallowing―hook, line and sinker―the Christian dead man-god myth ― or, for that matter, any Abrahamic Derivative Religion (ADR), for they are all F3 ― False, Fictitious and Foolish.

The Hebrew bible, like the Christian New Testament, is fictitious; from a 6-day creation of the universe; a cunning, walking, talking snake; big fish tales; world flood and an “Invisible Man in the Sky” ― it is all fiction, a bold sham perpetrated on mankind.

“You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep-seated need to believe.” -Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

 FOOTNOTE:

1. The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His ExistenceJohn E. Remsburg, The Truth Seeker Company, NY, pp. 24-25), [2]

Paul’s References to Historical Jesus is From the Scriptures

Conclusion

When we allow Paul to speak for himself, rather than impose upon him the narrative world of the evangelists, we find a consistent picture throughout the letters. The governing force in his life’s work, as it is with all the competing apostles who roam the byways of the empire preaching the divine Christ, is the power of God’s Spirit, manifested through revelation and a study of scripture. No historical man who had recently begun the movement hovers in the background of Paul’s thought. His gospel comes from God, and its subject matter is the Christ, the intermediary Son who is the hallmark of the religious philosophy of the age. Everything Paul has to say about his Christ Jesus (including his features “according to the flesh”) comes from scripture, that window onto the higher spiritual world of God and his workings (see Part Two of the Main Articles).

Paul occasionally feels himself in direct contact with his Christ Jesus in heaven, receiving instruction from him, as in that handful of pronouncements which scholars call “words of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11, 9:14, 11:23, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). And he, like all contemporary Christians, awaits the arrival of this Son and Lord from heaven at the imminent End, when they shall set eyes on his person for the first time. In 1 Corinthians itself, Paul refers three times to the coming, the “revealing” of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:7, 11:26, 16:22). In not one of them, nor in any of the other dozen occurrences throughout the Pauline corpus, do we sense any suggestion that this will be a second coming, the return of a figure who had previously walked the earth in Paul’s own lifetime. [3]

Reference

[1] Did Jesus Exist? http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm

[2] No Historical Evidence of Jesus: http://jdstone.org/cr/files/nohistoricalevidenceofjesus.html

[3] Everything Paul as to say about Jesus is from the Scriptures: http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/supp06.htm

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