Biblical Historicity – reading list

Authors

This is a brief list of books worth reading that is outside the box.

(1) there was no Jesus, there is no God by Raphael Lataster, Kindle £2.32

 2 Sept. 2013

In this unique book, sceptical Religious Studies scholar, Raphael Lataster, seeks to merge the accessibility of popular atheistic writings, with the rigorous scholarly research normally limited to academic journals and monographs. Avoiding the seemingly endless debates on the social impacts of religion, There Was No Jesus, There Is No God is only concerned with the evidence. The base content of this fully referenced tome of free-thought has been peer-reviewed by leading scholars in the fields of History, Philosophy, Biblical Studies and Studies in Religion.

Part 1 reveals the spurious nature of the sources used to establish the truth of Christianity and the existence of Jesus, and the equally spurious methods employed by many Biblical scholars. A brief interlude then leaves no doubt that the existence of the Christ of Faith is virtually impossible, and concludes that even the existence of a stripped-down Historical Jesus is uncertain. Bayesian reasoning is shown to justify sceptical views on many topics, including the existence of God.

Part 2 shifts the focus to the God of classical theism and monotheism, examining the evidence and arguments from scientific, historical, and philosophical perspectives. The inadequacy of the case for God is found to easily justify non-belief (atheism). Furthermore, considerations of alternative gods and conceptions of God, lead to game-changing concerns for Christians, Muslims and Jews.


About the Author

A former fundamentalist Christian, Raphael Lataster is a professionally secular PhD researcher (Studies in Religion) at the University of Sydney. His main research interests include philosophy of religion, sociology of religion, Christian origins, logic, epistemology, Bayesian reasoning, justifications and social impacts of atheism, Taoism, overpopulation and sustainability concerns, pantheism, and pandeism. Being passionate about education, Raphael hopes to eventually teach in Religious Studies and possibly Philosophy (critical thinking and philosophy of religion), and also to make every effort to engage with the public, through popular books, speaking engagements, public debates and websites. His other interests include rock-climbing and volunteering with the State Emergency Service. Raphael wrote his Master’s thesis on Jesus mythicism (the view that even a ‘historical’, non-miraculous Jesus may not have existed), concluding that historical and Bayesian reasoning justifies a sceptical attitude towards the ‘Historical Jesus’. For his doctoral work, Raphael is analysing the major philosophical arguments for God’s existence (as argued by William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga and Thomas Aquinas), attempts to demonstrate the logical implausibility of the monotheistic concept, explores the theological tendencies of Philosophy of Religion, considers the plausibility of pantheistic worldviews, and ponders the sociological impact of certain sophisticated apologists, such as Craig, whom he dubs the ‘New Theologians’.
  • Print Length: 198 pages
Format:Paperback

There Was No Jesus, There Is No God is one of the best books I’ve read dealing with issues surrounding the debate about the historical Jesus and the existence of god. While the author is a Religious Studies scholar, this particular book is his attempt to condense all of the scholarly material and make it easily understood by non-scholars. This is one reason why I enjoyed the book as much as I did. While I’m familiar with all of these issues, having studied many of these same sources the author uses myself, the author’s down-to-earth approach to the subject matter and his excellent explanations of the issues was very helpful in solidifying my existing knowledge and putting it in very clear terms. I even learned a few new tidbits of information that I found fascinating.

The book is broken up into two sections. The first two chapters detail the search for a “Historical” Jesus or a “Biblical” Jesus within the pages of history. The author outlines the issues surrounding this search, such as the sources Biblical scholars use to conduct their search and the methodology they use to investigate those sources in order to determine facts about Jesus’ life. The author then outlines the issues with the reliability of the Bible and questions whether or not anything meaningful can possibly be gleaned from the Bible about Jesus. The author, in that down-to-earth style demonstrates quite thoroughly – not to mention humorously – that there really is no reliable method of determining whether or not any kind of Jesus, historical or Biblical, really existed. The third chapter discusses in detail the evidence for a theory that is briefly mentioned in the previous chapters about a “non-literal,” “celestial” Jesus.Read more ›

(2)

The Christ-Myth Theory And Its Problems by Robert M. Price :Kindle £7.58

 7 Feb. 2012

The Christ-Myth theory … “Worse Than Atheism”? New Testament scholar Robert M. Price, one of America’s leading authorities on the Bible, has assembled in his book evidence that shows that almost the entire “biography of Jesus” is a conscious reworking of earlier literature.It is one thing to say “There are no gods” or “Jesus was not a god, just a man.” It is quite another thing to say “Jesus of Nazareth never existed at all” or that “Christ is a myth.” But scholars have been saying exactly that since at least 1793 when the Enlightenment scholar Charles Dupuis began to publish his 13-volume Origine de Tous les Cultes, ou Religion Universelle, which elucidated the astral origins not only of Christianity but of other ancient religions as well.

New Testament scholar Robert M. Price, one of America’s leading authorities on the Bible, here summarizes much of the scholarship that has led him and a growing number of modern scholars to conclude that Christ — a partial synonym for Jesus of Nazareth — is mythical. Most usefully, Price has assembled evidence that shows that almost the entire “biography of Jesus” has been created from Greek Old Testament stories and themes and even incorporates motifs from Homer, Euripides, and perhaps Aesop. Because readers will have a hard time “taking it on faith” that the Jesus biography is merely a reworking of previous material, broad swaths of “Old Testament” context are quoted in association with each New Testament equivalent, so readers can judge for themselves whether or not Dr. Price’s claim be true: the “Live of Christ” was not fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies; it was, rather, a conscious reworking of earlier literature.


  • Print Length: 427 pages
By A.
Format:Paperback
” Christ-Myth theory and it’s problems ” is one of my three favourite books by Robert M. Price, along with ” The reason driven life ” & ” Evolving out of Eden, christian responses to evolution ”
Price points out the possibility that many of the N.T. stories are a rewrite of O.T. fictions. The gospel writers
thought that a Christ figure would do similar things to the O.T. ” heroes ” like Elijah so they wrote Jesus as doing similar miracles, or greater. The N.T. ” history ” didn’t go looking for accounts from people who lived and talked to Jesus but rather raked through the Septuagint looking for ” answers ” to what probably happened.
Well it is more complicated than that hence the value of buying the book.

(3)

Jesus Is Dead by Robert M. Price Kindle £7.58

 7 Feb. 2012

Those who read this book almost certainly will agree that it is explosive in its argument that (1) not only is there no good reason to think that Jesus ever rose from the dead, (2) there is no good reason to suppose he ever lived or died at all. Readers will have material for hundreds of stimulating conversations and discussions. Better yet, they will have “ammunition” with which to counter the arguments of muscular apologists such as Gary Habermas, N.T. Wright, and William Lane Craig. Best of all, readers will be entertained by Professor Price’s deconstruction of the Da Vinci Code-type books that have flooded the religious book market in recent years — and provided the raw material for many a mirthful moment.

Robert M. Price was for a time an apologist of the sort he refutes in Beyond Born Again, Deconstructing Jesus, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, and Night of the Living Savior. He is also the author of The Widow Traditions in Luke-Acts, The Da Vinci Fraud, The Reason-Driven Life, and the monumental The Pre-Nicene New Testament. He holds a PhD in Systematic Theology from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a second PhD in New Testament from Drew University. He has served as Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College in North Carolina and is a member of the Jesus Seminar.

  • Print Length: 279 pages
Apologetics is dead after this book 30 Jun. 2007
By NAO – Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback

This book does a fine job of demolishing the arguments of Christian apologists. Price shows how apologists operate by getting you to buy into some very shakey assumptions – that the gospel narratives, minus the supernatural – are basically historically reliable. Then they use events and characters in the story to argue that Jesus really did rise from the dead.

However, upon closer inspection the gospel narratives are not even remotely historical accounts, and provide numerous internal clues to this effect. The apologist tactic is tantamount to proving the existence of Batman by quoting the words of Robin, the Boy Wonder.

Price takes on quite a few specific big name apologists such as N.T. Wright, William Lane Craig, Glenn Miller, and Gary Habermas. He provides slam-dunk refutations for specific arguments, with observations on the general principle behind apologetic flim-flam tactics.

If you ever have to participate in a debate, THIS ONE BOOK is THE BOOK to read.

(4)

Behind the Myths – the Foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by John Pickard Kindle £2.39

 11 Jan. 2013

There has never been a more important time for a study of the social, economic and political origins of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the three important world religions that share a common root. This book adopts a Marxist, that is a materialist, view of human development so it takes as its starting point the idea that gods, angels, miracles and other supernatural phenomena do not exist in the real world and therefore cannot be taken as explanations for the origin and rise of these faiths. It looks instead at the material conditions at appropriate periods in antiquity and the social and economic forces that were at work, to outline the real foundations of these three doctrines. In doing so, it challenges the historicity of key figures like Moses, Jesus and Mohammed.

This is a unique book which draws on the research, knowledge and expertise of hundreds of historians, archaeologists and scholars to create a new synthesis that is both coherent and completely based on a materialist world outlook. It is a book written by an unbeliever for other unbelievers, as a contribution to a discussion among atheists and secularists as to the real origins of the so-called Abramic faiths. It will be a revelatory read, even to those already firmly of an atheist or secularist persuasion, underpinning their non-religious views and it will provide a valuable resource for all those who might be coming to question the hold that organised religion has had on human society.

  • Print Length: 605 pages
By Mags
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading this eye-opening book! Having read a few books on this topic recently, I was totally unprepared for the sheer depth of lies and deception that we have been force-fed in the last two and a half thousand years. I have to say that the words “gob-smacked” are probably the most appropriate here. Whether you choose to believe any of the stories that organised religion will have you believe, this book closes the door for me on all of it. If everyone in the world were to read this book and see religion for what it is – a way to control the masses and keep the people ignorant and downtrodden – they would all walk away and never turn back. Religious brain-washing from birth and throughout time has truly been the cause of most of the problems that we have here on earth and the sooner that people wake up the better. Did I enjoy this book? You bet I did! It has been the final lifting of the curtain for me and I will thoroughly recommend it to anyone seeking the truth. Thank you John Pickard

(5)

The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ by D.M. Murdock Kindle £0.99

 25 Jan. 2011

Around the world over the centuries, much has been written about religion, its meaning, its relevance and contribution to humanity. In the West particularly, sizable tomes have been composed speculating upon the nature and historical background of one of the main characters of Western religions, Jesus Christ. Many have tried to dig into the precious few clues as to Jesus’s identity and come up with a biographical sketch that either bolsters faith or reveals a more human side of this godman to which we can all relate. Obviously, considering the time and energy spent on them, the subjects of Christianity and its legendary founder are very important to the Western mind and culture, and increasingly to the rest of the world as well.

Despite all of this literature continuously being cranked out and the significance of the issue, in the public at large there remains a serious lack of formal and broad education regarding religion and mythology, and most individuals are highly uninformed in this area. Concerning the issue of Christianity, for example, the majority of people are taught in most schools and churches that Jesus Christ was an actual historical figure and that the only controversy regarding him is that some people accept him as the Son of God and the Messiah, while others do not. However, whereas this is the raging debate most evident in this field today, it is not the most important. Shocking as it may seem to the general populace, the most enduring and profound controversy in this subject is whether or not a person named Jesus Christ ever really existed.

  • Print Length: 60 pages

Review: “The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for Historical Jesus” by D.M.Murdock & Acharya S

I highly recommend this precise, condensed book which was easy to read and contained all the essentials to show how Christianity began. It also argues that Jesus was in all probability an allegorical figure created from the image of some much earlier deity like Horus or Osiris. Thus Jesus of the Bible was a mythological personality. The whole of Christianity was based on much older myths from other older religious beliefs such as the Egyptian religions and beliefs. But such connections were severely suppressed for centuries.

The early scribes and Christian fathers of the Old and New Testaments were ignorant and superstitious and were guided by the only available known biological and scientific knowledge of their day and they were never guided by the wisdom of an omniscient God.

The Gospels are full of contradictions, and there is even evidence of forgery. The Gospels were the works of fictitious ghost writers. The fact that Paul never mentioned the historical background of Jesus in all his discourses is indeed very significant and suspicious. Also, as no literary persons of Jesus’ time has ever mentioned Jesus in their writings, nor has any documents of that period ever found to have mentioned Jesus it makes it rather convincing that Jesus did not live at the time claimed for his existence in the Bible. So either Jesus is a fictitious figure or he is a character portraying a deity of an earlier period.

Even Jesus’ disciples appear to be characters representing personalities of a much earlier period. The Ten Commandments are a variation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Baptism, Pharaohs born of the Sun God and were Gods themselves, the concept of resurrection, the Trinity, are all concepts directly traceable to Egyptian religious beliefs and rituals.

In conclusion, the authors do not believe that a historical Jesus ever lived.

(6)

The Study Guide to Did Moses Exist? by D.M. Murdock Kindle £2.14

 3 May 2014

This Study Guide consists of information relevant to the biblical story of Moses, the Exodus, Conquest of Canaan and the origin of the Hebrews, Israelites and Jews. In this regard, this ebook provides a number of texts from antiquity, including some in their original languages, discussed in my book “Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver.” These primary sources were too voluminous to attach as appendices thereto; hence, this present work. These various appendices thus supplement and clarify remarks in DME, which is why the present work is a “study guide.”

The pertinent page numbers from “Did Moses Exist?” (“DME”) for each chapter here are included under the section’s title or next to subsection headings, and the reader will wish to refer back to the original text for clarification.

Much additional material from “The Dionysus Connection” chapter in DME also is included here, demonstrating a significant body of literature on that subject which was left by the wayside even though it constitutes one of the most fascinating developments in the field of comparative religion and mythology.

  • Print Length: 143 pages
By George W. West – Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

The companion book to “DID MOSES EXIST: THE MYTH OF THE ISRAELI LAW GIVER” is a helpful guide.

I knew the Gilgamesh story of several thousand years ago preceded the Moses story, but I didn’t realize how much of a myth the Jews thought Moses was. Israeli archaeologists have combed the Sinai for clues of his, and some 600,000 Jews and their hungry animals, and found not the tiniest sliver of evidence that any tribe remained there for even an overnight camp out, let alone 40 years. After all of that manna from heaven in the form of doves there has to be at least thousands of tiny bones scattered about….but nothing exists.

(7)

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchins – Kindle £5.79

 1 Nov. 2011
God Is Not Great is the ultimate case against religion. In a series of acute readings of the major religious texts, Christopher Hitchens demonstrates the ways in which religion is man-made, dangerously sexually repressive and distorts the very origins of the cosmos. Above all, Hitchens argues that the concept of an omniscient God has profoundly damaged humanity, and proposes that the world might be a great deal better off without ‘him’.
[320 pages]

Christopher Hitchens, as usual, presents a well aimed, reasoned take down of his target; religion.

Erudite, witty, forceful, scornful and unapologetic, Hitchens delivers a coup-de-grace to the festering, multi-headed dragon of various religions and the myths that have founded them. With no extra fat. it is a clear and understandable essay through the reasons why and how religions begin, thrive and die and why, ultimately, they are man made. A must have for your bookshelf and a call to arms for freethinkers, atheist, agnostics and skeptics alike.

(8)

The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q & Christian Origins by Burton L. Mack kindle £5.99, 288 pages

review:

Introdduction

Like some others, I began to search for the “Historical Jesus” and the “Historical Gospel Authors” in my quest to rationalise the Biblical stories found in the Gospels and to my surprise I discovered that many theologians and academics had already been along this same path in recent years. But this continued search for the origins and truth of our Biblical history has only surfaced in more recent years with the majority of theologians and scholars confining their search from within the ‘box,’ Biblical writings, so that they would not be immediately rejected as heretics. Authors like D.M.Murdock who wrote, “The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ” was published in January 2011, or James K. Bielby and Paul R. Eddy who wrote, “The Historical Jesus: Five Views,” in Feb 2010, or Washington Gladden who wrote, “Who Wrote the Bible? A Book for the People” in July 2008, all stayed well within the ‘box,’ the Gospels, and thus were not able to throw much new light on the “historical Jesus” that was not already obvious. The Gospels have always been accepted by evangelicals as the “historical stories?” of Jesus, his miracles, his resurrection, his being the son of God, and his being the Messiah without question. The Gospels, and her editors have created a masterpiece with their literary skills to present today’s edited and re-edited works into a polished book accepted by Christians all over the world. But there still exists sceptics even among scholars and theologians and the lay public.

One such scholar of early Christian history and the New Testament, and Wesley Professor emeritus, who was sceptical of of traditional Christian New Testament was Professor Burton L Mack. Being an academic and still sticking within the bounds of the box, Prof.Mack has attempted to analyse the culture and society of the peoples at the time when Jesus lived in order to understand how those people must have thought, analysed and rationalised their social problems that led to the development of their religious ideologies. Being pragmatic and logical, Prof Mack began to realise that the early Gospel writers all had some similar and common themes, wisdom teachings, that ran through their gospels and this could be due to their acceptance of one another’s concepts or that they were related to influences as yet not discovered by us.

Nag Hammadi Manuscripts found in 1945

The discovery of the Nag Hammadi Manuscripts in 1945 produced the missing link that many Christians never knew existed. They found a collection of, “sayings of Jesus” called “the Gospel according to Thomas” that was translated by Marvin Meyer, 1992. Prof. Mack was soon on the track of, “The gospel according to Thomas” and the revelation of the origins of the early recording of the “Wisdom statements and teachings of Jesus” the similarities with the book of Q. With Prof Mack’s intimate knowledge of the early Christian history he has painfully separated the early teachings of Jesus from that of the Gospels, and to visualise the early “followers of Jesus,” who were not Christians, and showed how the Book of Q clearly influenced the later authors of the Gospels.

The Book of Q

This book contains a chapter quoting, “the Book of Q” which I found most edifying and convincing. But what was astounding was that these early Jesus followers “made no reference to the death and resurrection of Jesus,” “no mention of Jesus as the Christ,” and “no mention of instructions to Peter and the other disciples about continuing Jesus mission and baptising converts into the church.” Q1 was dated as appearing about 50 CE, Q2 about 60 CE and Q3 about 70 CE. It is also to be noted that the Gospel of Thomas used Q1 and Q2 but was not aware of the existence of Q3. This is significant because it clearly shows that the New Testament Gospels have been very cleverly draped with mythology in order to alter the perception of Jesus as Christ and the Messiah. The purity of the Q does challenge the authenticity of the New Testament. The Gospels were of course written very much later and it becomes evidently clear that much of their wisdom sayings and its elaborations were taken from Q. Most interesting is Prof Mark’s Appendix B which tabulates the Lukan texts and the Parallels with Q showing how Q was used as the foundations by the Gospel writers when writing their gospels. The evidence provided by Prof Mack is elaborate and convincing. If Prof Mack has provided sufficient evidence that the Gospel myths were elaborated upon the foundations of the unadulterated Q, then the whole of the New Testament will have to be looked at with a renewed light. Unfortunately, once the Gospels had established their stories, there were no further need for Q as it would have undermined the originality the Gospels.

A convincing read for those who are seeking the historical Jesus and historical Gospel writers.

(9)

Jesus: Neither God Nor Man – The Case for a Mythical Jesus by Earl Doherty, 

 5 Oct. 2009

Mainstream biblical scholarship is far from achieving consensus in its ongoing attempt to separate the glorified Jesus of faith from the ever elusive Jesus of history. It remains to be seen how soon traditional academia will overcome its reluctance to take the plunge into the New Testament s final, uncharted territory: the theory that Christianity began with belief in a spiritual heavenly Son of God, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed…

The Gospels and Acts of the Apostles form one small portion of the early Christian documentary record. They reflect but one category of thought and witness to what that broad movement came to believe in. Modern scholars and believers alike view the world of early Christianity through the prism of this narrow handful of inbred writings, a chain of literary dependency and enlargement on the first one written, and it has distorted all that they see. The Gospels and Acts need to be put in their proper perspective, so that they no longer obscure a more clear-eyed view of what early Christianity constituted. That view can be found in everything from the New Testament epistles to the non-canonical documents, to the writings of the Gnostics and second century apologists. Until we allow ourselves to recognize what broader factors of the era brought the idea of a Jesus into being, and how he evolved over the first 150 years, the Western world will continue to live and perpetuate a fantasy…

Earl Doherty, through his website and first book, The Jesus Puzzle, is regarded by many as having given Jesus Mythicism its most legitimate and convincing expression in over a generation. Jesus: Neither God Nor Man is a new and revised expansion of that work. The product of almost three decades of study, it presents a case of unprecedented depth and lucidity for the non-existence of an historical Jesus. (The original The Jesus Puzzle will continue to be available as a condensed version of that case.) In this age of the Internet and the increased dissemination of knowledge and ideas across a wide public constituency, the true beginnings of one of the world s major religions may finally be ready to emerge.

814 pages

Earl Doherty’s critical examination of the Biblical text

Earl Doherty’s critical examination of the Biblical text reveals perspectives that Christians have often accepted as historical and taken its legends for granted without ever raising any doubts of its authenticity. Thus I found Doherty’s quest for the historicity of Christianity searching all the available historical text available, with his very detailed analysis plausible and illuminating. It is one of the most comprehensive researches undertaken of examining Biblical and non-Biblical historical text that is available from the very early period of Christian history, and methodically extracting and dissecting the underlying significance of the text in minutiae for every possible interpretation intended by the author. I found Doherty’s analysis revealing and convincing.

But by the very nature of the topic (Biblical) and the depth that Doherty had delved into to make detailed, in depth comparisons often prolonged the analysis beyond reader patience but I soon realised it was necessary in order to put to rest some of the more common `evangelical Christian’ arguments that has existed about this topic. These lengthy discourse tend to make the reading rather demanding and laborious. But I can see why it was necessary in a document such as this; Doherty had to cover all bases.

Paul’s Earliest Perceptions of A Spiritual Jesus

It is significant that when Paul started his proselytising he was not extending the work of Jesus as described in the Gospels, instead Paul is driven by an inspiration that came from his own revelation from God. Paul keeps reiterating,

“It is all God’s doing. God has set his seal on us by sending the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 1:22, NEB

We speak of these gifts of God in words found for us not by our human wisdom but by the Spirit. [1 Corinthians 2:13, NEB]

Did the world of god originate with you? Are you the only people to whom it come?Has anyone claims to be inspired or a prophet, let him recognize that what I write has the Lord’s authority. [1 Corinthians 14:36-37,NEB]

Elsewhere, the same sentiments can be noted. The writer of 1 Peter 1:12 tells his readers: “Preachers brought you the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.” This is a preaching movement begun and inspired by God, by revelation through the Spirit. There is not a word spent on any role for a human Jesus, on a beginning in the career of a recent historical man.

Even though Paul had approval from the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life, nevertheless, Paul claimed that his ultimate authority did not come from humans, but directly from Christ’s revelation to him:

“For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11-12).”

Gal 1:15-16

15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.
2 Corinthians 5:5 should astound us:

“God has shaped us for life immortal, and as a guarantee of this he has sent the Spirit.”

How could Paul not have said that to give us life everlasting, God had sent Jesus?

God, through the avenue of the Spirit, is the sole agent in all that has transpired, the sole source. It is he who has bestowed grace, his are the gifts. Romans 1:2 speaks of the “gospel of God,” 3:24 of “God’s act of redemption,” It is God, “who began the good world” as declared in Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 13:7 refers to the apostles “who first spoke God’s message to you.”

So many writers pointedly ignore the centrality of Jesus’ own role and actions. As late as 1 Timothy, the writer speaks (1:11) of “the gospel which tells of the glory of God who is blessed.” Such silences (about Jesus) resound throughout the early Christian correspondence, with a cumulative impact which cannot be dismissed.

What is it that the Spirit of God, through revelation, has imparted to men like Paul? In referring to his conversion experience, Paul tells the Galatians:

“God chose to reveal his Son in me [to me and through me: NEB], in order that I might preach him among the gentiles. [1:16]

Paul is claiming that HE is the medium of God’s revelation; through him the world is learning about the Son, the newly-disclosed means of salvation for Jew and gentile alike. (Of course, there were others besides Paul who were preaching that revelation, but Paul places the focus on himself whenever he can, and he could well have been the premier apostle of this time.)

The centerpiece of God’s revelation is Christ himself: the existence of the Son and the role he has played in God’s plan for salvation. Such things are not based on historical record, or on the interpretation of a recent man. They are part of a divine mystery, a secret hidden with God which has now been revealed.

In defending Christian doctrine in the opening champters of 1 Corinthians, Paul says:

“We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God designed for our glory before time began.” When and how was that secret revealed? In Romans 16:25-6, Paul (or a later editor) proclaims his gospel

“…..about Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept in silence for long ages but now revealed, and made known through prophetic writings at the command of God….[Trans. of Doherty.]

God’s Revelation to Paul: A Spiritual Jesus

Paul’s ministry of Jesus is usually overlooked and minimised because theologians have focused on the ministry of the Gospels as preferred by the influential clergy and theologians as it fits in better with the ideology and beliefs of the people of those early Christian eras. But the ministry of Paul is worth a closer inspection.

Paul’s Ultimate Authority

Paul did not receive his authority from the mouths of men but from the “revelation from God.”

Galatians 1: 11-12

11 For I (Paul) would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (by God.)

Paul’s authority is ultimate and unlike the Gospels, it is a “revelation” and not legend or hearsay. So much more importance must be given to Paul’s ministry than it has ever received. Paul himself saw Jesus via revelation on his encounter on the road to Damascus (Acts 9, 22, 26) in which Christ(God) revealed Himself to Paul . He was an eyewitness in the sense of having seen Jesus after his death (1 Cor. 9:1). Therefore, Paul certainly had the authority to teach and preach the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 9:1 (NASB95)

1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?

Paul once again saw Jesus after his death, by revelation by Jesus himself as proof of his authority to speak on his ministry. Paul was a free man, but Jesus revealed himself to him, after his death.

Jesus in the Heavenly Tabernacle

It is clear from the scriptures that Jesus was a priest in the Heavenly Tabernacle as shown by the following passages:

Hebrew 7:11-28

11. If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

12. For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

13. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

14. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

15. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,

16. Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

17. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

18. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

19. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

20. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:

21. (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

22. By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

23. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

24. But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

25. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

26. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

27. Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

28. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. High Priests Ordained to offer Gifts and Sacrifices

Hebrew Chapter 8

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:
Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Jesus Sacrifices His Blood in the Heavenly Tabernacle

Hebrew Chapter 9

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.
For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Christ Revealed (: to make known through divine inspiration)

According to Galatians 1: 11-12 Paul makes it abundantly clear that his ministry of Christ was revealed to him from God. Uncorrupted. And he proceeds to tell us of Christ in the Tabernacle in Heaven, and his ultimate sacrifice of his own blood in order to expunge the sins of his followers. This is a Heavenly Christ who gave his blood for the sins of man, not the Christ at Calvary. Furthermore, from separate circles, and who have no contact with one another, who also refer to the revelation of Christ:

1 Timothy 3:16 : And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God (Christ) was manifest (revealed) in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

1 Peter 1 19. But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20. Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest (revealed) in these last times for you,

1 John 3: 4. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5. And ye know that he was manifested (revealed) to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

Thus, we see, again and again, that Christ was “revealed” to his writers. Somehow, the true significance of the meaning of this word, “revealed” seems to have been overlooked because the Gospel myths were preferred by the clergy of the day, distorting the epistle writers of earlier times. The lack of historicity of the Gospels makes the case for the spiritual Jesus logical in every sense.

Juxtaposition of Heavenly and Earthly Tabernacles

The revelations to Paul by God of the Heavenly Tabernacle and the High Priest’s Blood sacrifice needed an earthly connection. Thus the juxtaposition of the earthly tabernacle had to be created to meet the needs of the people.

Revelation 21:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven,prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
The Heavenly Tabernacle was “Before (earthly) time began.”

This gives us a perspective of the time-line of the Heavenly Tabernacle in relation to human history:

2 Timothy Chapter 1:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;
When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (before earthly time began,)
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
Paraphrasing

(1) Jesus was revealed to Paul by God as a High Priest in the Heavenly Tabernacle and who had shed his own blood to expunge the sins of his followers at a time that was before earthly time. Thus, a second sacrifice at Calvary would have been totally unnecessary.

(2) The Heavenly Tabernacle and the (spiritual) High Priest, Jesus, were already pre-ordained by God and had already occurred long before the beginning of earthly time. But the Gospel myths were a necessary evolution of the esoteric Christian faith as it was necessary to associate the Heavens with the Earth for the sake of the existing pagan beliefs existing at that time.

…….There is not a crack in this facade where Jesus could gain a foothold. In the past lie |G|od’s promises of eternal life, and the first action on those promises is the present revelation by |God to apostles like Paul who have gone out to deliver the nessage. Jesus’ own proclamation of eternal life, or whtever he may have proclaimed, has evaporated tnto the wind. Here is a prime example of the very exclusion of a human, historical Jesus.

The Gospel of Mark

Mark was the first of the Gospel writers to present sayings and traditions about the apocalyptic `Son of Man’ (which he identifies with his Jesus) and concepts that were taken over from Mark by Matthew and Luke. (This led to the introduction and acceptance of the concept of the historical Jesus, through the introduction of the incarnation of Jesus, son of God, on earth.) Although these concepts were not taken by Mark from a Q document, which he shows no sign of possessing, but Mark would have belonged to the community which was part of the wider (God) kingdom preaching movement who would have been witness to the Q-type traditions. Mark has Jesus referring to himself as `the Son of Man’ who will come in the future as the apocalyptic prediction to his disciples. And from Mark, Matthew and Luke have reinforced their narrations to establish the `Son of Man’ and a divine incarnate of god, as a fact of history because the culture of that era and the peoples were surceptible to syncretism and mythicism prevalent in the culture of the day. The Gospels essentially converted a spiritual Jesus of the Heavenly Tabernacle into an incarnate Son of Man as Son of God through mythicism.

The Quest of Doherty

Doherty a scholar in Ancient History and Greek and Latin has used his background to good use in studying many of the original early documents written in Greek. He studied many, many early manuscripts, Biblical and historical, and analysed them minutely to come to a better understanding of the origins of Christianity. `Jesus Neither God Nor Man’ evolved and enlarged from his earlier book, `The JesusPuzzle,’ which took 14 years of study.

This leads to in-depth studies of the Gnostic phenomenon, the Johannine community, the nature of the Gospel of Q and that of the Gospel of Thomas, and the origins of the Biblical Gospels, with Mark and his introduction of `the son of man’ who eventually emerges as the incarnate of God in the form of Jesus. Doherty studied historical records of Flavius Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny, Thallus, Phlegon, Mara and others in the attempt to substantiate the authenticity of such hearsay at great lengths and depth and discusses his reasoning with intellectual skill and ability. Doherty finally says:

“To the rest who have open and inquisitive minds I offer the work itself, trusting in the power of its observations and arguments and the lucidity of its presentation. No mathematical proof is available, not laboratory demonstaration. All we can achieve is a judgement as to balance of probability, although perhaps such a thing can get close to definitive. In the field of history this is all we have . In the area of religion, a little more is first required: and its rational interpretation a chance to commend itself. If the probability is arrived at that the Gospel Jesus of Nazareth is a fictional or symbolic character, the world will not come to an end. It need merely change, and it has usually rather good at doing that.” Earl doherty Sept. 2009.

Those are exactly my sentiments especially to those who get so agitated when views contrary to the Bible are expressed. The book is recommended to all, especially those evangelical Christians who are determined to insist that only they have the right views on Christianity. On the balance of probability, based on all the available historical evidence available, and with the views of other books on this topic, I can only come to the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth was a legendary character that was created to unite the concept of the spiritual Kingdom of God in Heaven with the man-made Kingdom of God on earth, and was the basis for the foundations of the Christian faith.

(10)

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason Paperback – 6 Feb 2006 by Sam Harris  (Author)

a startling analysis of the clash of faith and reason in today’s world. Sam Harris offers a vivid historical tour of mankind’s willingness to suspend reason in favour of religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are used to justify harmful behaviour and sometimes heinous crimes. He asserts that in the shadow of weapons of mass destruction, we can no longer tolerate views that pit one true god against another. Most controversially, he argues that we cannot afford moderate lip service to religion — an accommodation that only blinds us to the real perils of fundamentalism. While warning against the encroachment of organised religion into world politics, Harris also draws on new evidence from neuroscience and insights from philosophy to explore spirituality as a biological, brain-based need. He calls on us to invoke that need in taking a secular humanistic approach to solving the problems of this world. 336 pages paper back £6.74

Review: The End of Faith by Sam Harris

Sam Harris book illustrates the irrationality of “religious faith” based on “beliefs” of unsubstantiated facts and yet such myths have been sheltered from criticism from every corner. I have rated it with 5 stars because the book is contemporary, very readable, credible and timely and most of all fearless of “political correctness.”

The book illustrates that anti-Semitism is integral to both Christianity and Islam and shows the barbarity of Christian who, butchered thousands in the name of God in the Inquisition and the Holocaust. That tribalism, exclusion, racism and savagery is laced throughout the scriptures of all the Abrahamic faiths.

Fundamentalist Christian scriptures were protected from inquiry with harsh and uncompromising diktats like that from Pope Pius X in 1907 who declared modernism a heresy. In Islam, it is also heretic to question the Quran or the hadiths. Thus intelligent inquiry into both the Bible and the Quran were stifled for many centuries in Christianity and still does in Islam. Hence the rejection of the modern scientific theories and hypothesis of the 20th and 21st centuries into Abrahamic faith considerations. Such stifling of intellectual exegesis from the highest authorities of the Abrahamic religions has prevented the evolution of modern religious doctrines.

Harris’ intimate knowledge of Islam also allows him to express his views on the rigidity of the Islamic faith and to express his views on Islam’s conflicts with that of Christianity without being hog-bound with `political correctness,’ is a bold step in modern 21st century literature.

Harris also openly discusses the political correctness in the assessment of our conflicts with Islam. Let me quote his words,

“We are war with Islam. It may not serve our immediate foreign policy objectives for our political leaders to openly acknowledge this fact, but it is unambiguously so. It is not merely that we are at war with an otherwise peaceful religion that has been “hijacked” by extremists. We are at war with precisely the vision of life that is prescribed to all Muslims in the Koran, and further elaborated in the literature of the hadith, which recounts the sayings and actions of the Prophet. A future in which Islam and the West do not stand on the brink of mutual annihilation is a future in which most Muslims have learned to ignore most of their canon, just as most Christians have learned to do. Such a transformation is by no means guaranteed to occur, however, given the tenets of Islam.”

Written with such frankness, it is a stimulating book, and well worth reading.

Comments

The purpose of the above blog is for the dissemination of knowledge and to banish misconceptions and hearsay.

“If everyone in the world were to read these books and see religion for what it is – a way to control the masses and keep the people ignorant and downtrodden – they would all walk away and never turn back. Religious brain-washing from birth and throughout time has truly been the cause of most of the problems that we have here on earth and the sooner that people wake up the better. Did I enjoy these books? You bet I did! It has been the final lifting of the curtain for me and I will thoroughly recommend it to anyone seeking the truth. Thank you John Pickard and the other authors.” [rephrased to suit this post.]

I have taken the trouble to provide summaries of the books so that you can know roughly its contents before buying the books to read. Copy and Print the list out for ordering at your pleasure and read them when you have the time. It will certainly provide you a different dimension to the understanding of Christianity as well as the other religions of the world. The list is not comprehensive but gives a good cross section that will unravel the strict and undeviating views of most evangelical Christians. It provides views that are free from the constrictions of fundamental Christianity and the undeviating script of the man scripted Bible.

 The URL provides Amazon’s Book Reviews by M.B.P.Lee the basis of his articles.

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