I will only post a few paragraphs of this artile here but the links will lead to many useful references useful for future research and reference.
[PS: I dd not reqalise that that this article had restrictions so In apologise if you are unable to read it in full. I have given up!]
The majority of people in the world today assume or believe that Jesus Christ was at the very least a real person. Perhaps he wasn’t really “the Messiah”, perhaps he was not “The Son of God”, and perhaps he didn’t actually perform miracles and rise from the dead, but he really was a great moral teacher who traveled around Galilee with followers and got arrested by the Jews and crucified by the Romans right?
Not likely. In fact, a close examination of the evidence shows that the best explanation for the story of “Jesus Christ” is what we call “mythology”. The case that I will be outlining here is that there never was any “Jesus Christ” nor any meaningful real life basis for the story of “Jesus Christ”. Like many other religious figures, “Jesus Christ” began as a theological concept, was later used as a character in allegorical stories, and was then historicized as someone whom people believed really existed. The belief in a literal “human” Jesus most likely emerged as eucharist rituals and theology developed around the concept of the “flesh” and “blood” of Christ and these concepts merged with allegorical narratives about the figure.
What is the basis for the claim that “Jesus never existed”?
Actually, there are many important facts that support this conclusion. First let’s look at an outline of some of the major points in this case:
- The Gospel of Mark was the first story of Jesus that was written, and all others are dependent on it
- The Gospel of Mark shows clear signs of being written as an allegorical fiction
- Virtually every detail of the life of Jesus comes from “Old Testament” scriptures
- Some of the details of the life of Jesus are based on mistranslations of the Hebrew scriptures
- Jesus’ crucifixion on Passover defies historical believability, yet makes perfect sense metaphorically
- The Gospels make many claims that are contradicted by the historical record
- The earliest writings about Jesus, from Paul and others, contain no details of his life
- Many statements in the letters of Paul only make sense if Paul does not view Jesus Christ as a historical person
- There is not one single writing from or about Jesus during his supposed lifetime
- Philo, a prolific Jewish writer who lived from 20 BCE to 50 CE, wrote extensively about the political and theological movements throughout the Mediterranean, and his views foreshadowed Christian theology, yet he never once wrote anything about Jesus. Not only this, but he actually wrote about political conflicts between the Jews and Pontius Pilate in Judea
- All of the non-Christian references to Jesus can be shown to have either been introduced later by Christian scribes or were originally based on Christian claims
- There is no evidence of any knowledge of a tomb of Jesus (empty or occupied) prior to the Gospel stories
- There were many conflicting beliefs about who Jesus Christ was in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries, including beliefs that he had never existed on earth “in the flesh”
- The Catholics made purely theological arguments as to why Jesus Christ had to have existed “in the flesh”
None of these points are meant to stand on their own, but collectively they provide a very strong argument against the story of Jesus Christ being based on a real person.
It is important to note that we have one, and only one, source of information about the life of Jesus and that is the Christian Gospels. The Gospels are the sole source of information about this figure; everything that we “know” about “him” depends on these sources.
There are two basic views of the Biblical Jesus as a real person today, the religious Christian view and the secular historical view. The religious Christian view takes the Gospels as accurate and reliable accounts of the life of Jesus, including all of the miracles. The religious Christian view demands that Jesus Christ was a popular and well known figure in the region, who drew crowds of thousands of people and performed great miracles, who was such a revolutionary figure that the Jewish priesthood was compelled to have him arrested and put to death in dramatic fashion before hundreds or thousands of witnesses.
The secular historical view, which may also be held by some Christians, takes the Gospels as exaggerated accounts of the life of a real Jesus. The secular historical view basically starts with the Gospels and then removes the fantastic or “supernatural” claims in the Gospels and accepts what is left as history. The secular historical view tends to minimize the role of Jesus in the region, stating instead that he was barely noticed by others. Secular historians who believe that Jesus existed rely on the Gospels as essentially historical, but inflated, accounts of his life.
But are the Gospels reliable historical accounts?The origin of the Gospels has always been unknown. At no point has anyone (that we know of) reallknown who wrote any of the Gospels, when they were written, or even where they were written. Eacthe Gospels could have been written anywhere from Egypt to Rome, and the estimated dates for thwriting range from around 50 CE at the earliest estimates to about 150 CE at the latest, with a minor of people proposing dates into the 4th century.The traditional explanation for the origin of the Gospels has been that they were each writtenindependently by people who were either disciples of Jesus or who received their information fromdisciples of Jesus. This is called the apostolistic tradition, and according to the apostolistic traditionGospel could only be considered “authentic” if it had a direct lineage to an apostle, thus the namesassigned to each of the Gospels were given in order to help establish their authenticity.It has not always been believed, however, that each of the Gospels is an eyewitness account. Indeethe Gospel of Luke explicitly states that it is compiled from the research of the author.The earliest account for the origin of some of the Gospels comes to us from the early church leader Papias, from about 130 CE:Mark being the interpreter of Peter, whatsoever he recorded he wrotewith great accuracy, but not, however, in the order in which it wasspoken or done by our Lord, for he neither heard nor followed our Lord,but, as before said, was in company with Peter, who gave him suchinstruction as was necessary, but not to give a history of our Lord’sdiscourses. Wherefore Mark has not erred in any thing, by writing somethings as lie has recorded them; for lie was carefully attentive to onething, not to pass by any thing that he heard, or to state any thingfalsely in these accounts. … Matthew composed his history in theHebrew dialect, and every one translated it as he was able.–Papias, 130 CEHere Papias states that the Gospel called Mark was written by someone named Mark, and that Mar recorded his Gospel from the apostle Peter. He then goes on to state that the Gospel called Matthewas written by someone named Matthew who wrote his Gospel in “the Hebrew dialect”, which wouldhave been Aramaic. We’ll go ahead and look at one more early explanation for the origin of the Gosand then analyze these statements.Around 175 CE the early church leader Irenaeus expounded upon the information of Papias when hgave an account of the origin of each of the four Gospels that later became canon.Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their owndialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying thefoundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the discipleand interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what hadbeen preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in abook the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of theLord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospelduring his residence at Ephesus in Asia.–Irenaeus; Against Heresies, 175 CEHere Irenaeus basically repeats the statement of Papias, most likely getting his information from Paand then adds a statement about the Gospel called Luke and the Gospel called John. There are seproblems with what Papias and Irenaeus state, but first let’s see what they are saying and why theysaying it.Early Christian theologians believed the Gospel of Matthew to be the first Gospel that was written, aby many accounts, the most important (of course there was disagreement among them, as there waall doctrinal issues). The reason that Matthew was viewed by many as the earliest Gospel and the mimportant was because it contained the virgin birth story and the lineage to David, and the Gospel oLuke was self-described as not an eyewitness account, so it could not have been the first. Some peclaimed that they had seen the original copy of Matthew, and that it was in Aramaic, but the realmotivation behind this story of being written“in the language of the Hebrews”was an effort to establiits primacy and authority. It makes sense that an account would be written in the same language thJesus spoke to his followers, yet all of the Gospels were written in Greek, so this idea of an originalHebrew or Aramaic Gospel had a lot of draw to it. Jesus was presumed to have spoken in Aramaicbecause the Gospels “quote him” as saying things in Aramaic, such as his last words in the crucifixi
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