The Figure Behind The Legend
The paramount aspect of Christian faith is
the unwavering belief that a man named Jesus from
At the present, it’s honestly impossible to verify or dismiss Jesus as a real person because we lack evidence and crucial eyewitness testimony. Thus, the Christian belief of Jesus being a true historical figure is entirely predicated upon blind faith. Even if we assume a successful completion of an endeavor to legitimize a historical Jesus who lectured on various subjects of life, the burden of proof would still be on the shoulder of the apologist to prove the typical claims of outlandish miracles. Thus, it’s these allegations of mystic performances that are relevant to our analysis.
If Jesus Christ was merely an ordinary man with extraordinary teaching abilities, or if he was a legend born from the obvious necessities of turbulent times, the entire foundation of the New Testament quickly implodes. While we’re still unable to offer the undeniable proof that contradicts these liberal Christian claims, we can easily demonstrate the incredibly overwhelming unlikelihood of Jesus ever having lived a life anything like the one depicted in the Gospels. Such an elementary presentation is, in fact, the intent of this chapter. For now, try to forget everything you know about Jesus Christ so that you may have the benefit of learning about this mysterious figure from a refreshingly unbiased perspective.
The Apostle Paul composed the earliest known records mentioning the name Jesus Christ from 49-60 CE. Even if he truly realized an earthly Jesus, Paul’s twelve-year span of writing falls outside the life of his subject. Thus, instead of providing an eyewitness account written while the miraculous events were still works in progress, God apparently leaves us with a curious absence of any contemporaneous testimonies for Jesus’ existence. In fact, there are absolutely no records of an earthly Jesus until several decades after his presumed legacy on earth ended with his crucifixion around 30 CE. We’ll return to this essential consideration a little later.
Since Paul was the first known individual to write about Jesus, it seems quite peculiar that he chooses to abstain from mentioning any of the astounding miracles accomplished by his subject. By no means, however, is this consideration a conclusively modern discovery. The early church, notoriously recognized for its own redaction of future biblical works, may have noticed this glaring insufficiency and decided to interpolate four or five statements into Paul’s work for a variety of potential reasons. Seeing as how greater than 99.9% of Paul’s writings are shockingly void of details on Jesus’ life, the handful of upcoming passages should already be held suspect.
Although we can attribute large portions of the New Testament to Paul, scholars have generally refuted the idea of one individual being responsible for the completion of the traditional Pauline works. Such is the case for the phrase “who before Pontius Pilate,” which appears in the sixth chapter of 1 Timothy, one of the New Testament works certain to be a second century product. Thus, someone other than Paul likely wrote this passage during a time in which the Pilate story was already enjoying widespread circulation.
Let’s begin our analysis of the authentic Pauline books with 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16. Verse 16 is, of course, highly controversial for its direct implication of the Jews as Jesus’ murderers. Such an anti-Semitic passage is not only the most out of character of Paul’s writings, but it also breaks up a cohesive passage in the letter. Try reading the chapter with an omission of these verses to see if you don’t notice a much-improved flow of the text. In addition to the obvious tangent interjection thrown into the fray, the verse is typical of the early church’s hatred toward the Jews. For these and some additional reasons far too complex to delve into here, the verse is widely regarded in scholarly circles to be an interpolation.
Another passage often referred to as the Lord’s Supper appears in 1 Corinthians 11:23: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread.” Four major points cast doubt on the likelihood of this passage referring to the earthly supper purported in the Gospels. First, Paul declares that he gained this knowledge through the Lord. In other words, he was divinely inspired to tell this part of the story. Why would God need to be the one to inform him of what must have been a widely distributed report? Nevertheless, I trust that you vividly remember how accurate these divine revelations tend to be. Second, Paul doesn’t offer any seemingly essential details of location or company with the taking of bread. Third, we know final and sacrificial meals are common mythological tales in a variety of other world religions. Fourth, translators rendered the word betrayed, a supposed reference to the traitor Judas, from the Greek word paredideto, a term that should have been more accurately translated as surrendered. Otherwise, we see Jesus betraying his life for us in Ephesians 5:2. Such an idea obviously isn’t consistent with the Gospel story of Jesus clearly surrendering his life to the Roman authorities. Likewise, no contemporaneous documents support the abused English translation of this passage. An individual who incompetently considered the postdated Gospel story was obviously responsible for committing this translatory blunder. For these reasons, there’s no rationality in assuming that Paul was discussing a worldly event over a fantastical one. If Paul had finished his letters after the Gospels were written, we could reasonably conclude that he was referencing the corresponding Gospel texts. In reality, the Gospel writers arrived on the scene well after Paul and had free access to include this intuitively transcendental event at their own discretion.
A vague reference to Jesus dying and resurrecting quickly appears and fades in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, but Paul offers no crucial details to discern these two momentous developments from mythological episodes. 2 Timothy 1:9 says that God’s grace “was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” The combination of these two statements offers additional credence to the mythological Jesus hypothesis. According to this school of thought, Jesus died and returned in a spiritual form at some point in history long before the Common Era began. Similarly, most of the epistles refer to Jesus as an earthly spiritual presence instead of a formerly living individual. Based on the summation of these letters, it seems the popular belief was that Jesus’ spirit had been present since the world began around 4004 BCE.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes about his journey to Jerusalem and his subsequent rendezvous with Peter and James. Even so, he completely fails to relay any details about these crucially important meetings to his readers. The Gospels claim that his two new acquaintances were disciples and close friends of Jesus, yet Paul is completely silent on the subject of their paramount conversations. Surely, they would have been capable of telling him something worthy of writing down!
Because we should find it difficult to accept that Paul would be ignorant of the audience’s desire to hear of Jesus’ divine birth, teachings, miracles, exorcisms, crucifixion, and resurrection, we should consequently question why he exercises this stunning silence. As I see it, there are several possible reasons for this omission: he simply forgot to include details of Jesus’ life in his enormous volume of work, God allowed the important documents detailing the life of Jesus to become mysteriously lost, Paul really was ignorant of what people wanted to hear, the events of Jesus’ life were not remarkable enough to convey to the readers, or there was no earthly presence to report. We must also wonder why Paul wasn’t able to locate someone else in the city who could personally testify to the physical existence of Jesus Christ and the historical events surrounding his residency. Paul would have had the ability to meet with thousands who had witnessed Jesus’ miracles, but what could these people possibly tell him about fantastic events that may have yet to become part of history?
We can find the most peculiar passage in Paul’s works in his letter to the Romans. He informs them of the necessity in believing that God raised Jesus from the dead if they want to be saved (10:9). Why would they need to have faith in this phenomenon if there were hundreds of witnesses who could verify the legitimacy of the supernatural claim? The Romans would have had the benefit of studying their own records, listening to eyewitness testimony in Jerusalem, and performing their own investigational research to determine if the assertions of an earthly resurrection were true. However, Paul speaks to them as though they must take the belief by heart rather than through tests of research and validity. On the other hand, if Jesus was the spiritual presence of a mythical figure who resurrected ages ago, Paul’s insistence on their blind faith is readily understandable. Furthermore, Paul recalls Elijah crying to God for killing his prophets in the next chapter. Could there have been a more perfect time to initiate a discussion on the crucifixion of the supreme prophet? Instead of undeniable inclusions of stories from Jesus’ Gospel life, Paul’s writings offer abstract concepts and ultra-sporadic references to vague events appearing independently from the most opportune times. Paul’s chosen subject matter of a spiritual presence is extremely inconsistent with that of the Gospel writers’ earthly savior.
A Wealth Of Missing Information
As I mentioned earlier, there are no existing records of Jesus made prior to 49 CE. This often-overlooked exclusion might be understandable, perhaps even anticipated, if there were no reputable historians or philosophers around to document the unique phenomena purported by the New Testament. However, this supposed explanation cannot be the case. The quintessential reason is Philo of Alexandria (approximately 15 BCE - 50 CE), a devotedly religious Jewish philosopher with a volume of work sizable enough to fill a modern publication of nearly one thousand pages with small print. Even though he was adamant about the legitimacy of the Hebrew scripture, not once does he indicate that he knew the first thing about an earthly Jesus. However, Philo did choose to refer to the son of God in the form of Logos, which is to say a spiritual medium between God and man. As it stands in the biblical world, the supernatural son of the universe’s almighty creator was supposedly performing unprecedented miracles and fulfilling prophecies that this philosopher spent his life analyzing, yet Philo, living well before Jesus’ birth and well after the crucifixion, never mentions such occurrences! This fact alone should assuredly convince you that the Gospel authors based a great deal of their work on rumors, urban legends, and mere fiction.
Justus of Tiberias (approximately 35-100 CE), born in Galilee, is another fine example of a first century Jewish author who never offered Jesus one line of notation in his works. Justus made extensive historical writings on the Jewish war for independence and other contemporaneous events of local interest, but he never mentioned the name of Jesus once. This is undeniably remarkable. Was the earthly presence of the divine not important enough to merit a single mention? The purported rumors on the life of Jesus had at least sixty years to spread to Justus, but he totally neglected them. What possible reason could Justus have to ignore such pertinent information other than its nonexistence?
Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE), a scientist who wrote on a diverse number of subjects, never mentions any of the darkness or earthquake phenomena concurrent with Jesus’ crucifixion. Since these events were within his interests of natural history, one would do well to suppose that these inexplicable calamities, if they took place, should have been of some interest to future generations.
Jerusalem born Josephus Flavius (approximately 37-100 CE) is a favorite reference among Christians for Jesus’ earthly existence. While he wrote an enormous volume of work covering Jewish history and their ongoing wars, only two short passages out of the enormous 93 CE chronicles mention the name Jesus. As was the case for the handful of alleged references in Paul’s works, we should impartially scrutinize these passages before accepting them as valid. As expected, this careful scrutiny demonstrates that the authenticity of these acknowledgements is highly questionable.
About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared (Antiquities 18).
Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others (Antiquities 20).
Out of several hundred pages of work, the preceding material constitutes everything Josephus supposedly had to say about the most important man to ever live. If the son of God were a true historical figure, one would anticipate a much broader explanation by the exhaustive historian.
The first passage raises concern for several reasons: only Christians referred to Jesus with the phrase “a wise man,” and Josephus was not a Christian; other sections of Josephus’ work are already known to have been altered by the church centuries after his death; the passage was discovered by Eusebius, a man widely known to have forged other material about Jesus; and no other Christian writers referenced the notable excerpt until two hundred years after its supposed documentation.
The second passage is also suspect for at least two additional reasons: even though Josephus was extremely meticulous about referencing his earlier work, the mention of Jesus in Antiquities 20 doesn’t refer to the previous mention in Antiquities 18; and “Jesus called the Christ” was another phrase of Christian diction.
Since Josephus’ writing style would have been easy to mimic after several days of transcribing, we can establish that there was opportunity in addition to the motive for interpolating foreign ideas into his chronicles. When researching the historicity of Jesus, we should obviously only consider the Antiquities with extreme caution. Even if someone were to prove the passages authentic, a possibility very much in doubt, the first mention of an earthly Jesus meekly appears more than sixty years following his alleged death and resurrection. It’s wholly inconceivable to suggest that the life of Jesus was too insignificant to warrant earlier mention.
It wasn’t until the second century when undeniable references to Jesus’ life began to emerge. Pope Clement I alluded to the blood of Christ in a 101 CE letter to the Corinthians, but that’s a vague crucifixion reference at best. Around the same time, Pliny the Younger and Trajan from Bithynia became the first to record the Christianity movement, but they strangely offer no details concerning an earthly life of the campaign’s source. Instead, they merely reference other Christian works. Finally, in 107 CE, Ignatius mentions Jesus’ birth from Mary during the reign of Herod and his execution ordered by Pontius Pilate. Ignatius was an adamant Christian, but he becomes yet another writer to offer only a crude synopsis of the world’s most prominent figure. Suetonius mentions the name Chrestus around 110 CE, but there’s no clear indication he intended to reference Jesus when he mentioned this common name. In 115 CE, Tacitus possibly becomes the first non-religious individual to include a somewhat complete account on the life of Jesus. Barnabas offers his readers some stories of Jesus’ life around 120 CE, but he relies quite heavily on sources that we would later know as the Gospels. Likewise, Polycarp records additional history of Jesus around 130 CE with the inclusion of minor life events. The Gospel of Thomas (135 CE?) offers a complete record of Jesus’ known sayings, but it ignores his birth, death, and resurrection.
Of all the writers who attempt to convert people with other faiths over to Christianity before 180 CE, only Justin (150 CE?) and Aristides (145 CE?) choose to include solid references to a historical Jesus. The rest focus their teachings entirely on the spiritual Jesus known by Paul. It would be foolish to assume that the balance of these missionaries would think such undeniably miraculous accomplishments wouldn’t be essential in the conversion of those with contrasting religious beliefs. Again, we can only conclude that these authors were ignorant of Jesus’ earthly residency or had good reason to consider the Gospels fraudulent. It should be clear by now that stories depicting Jesus on earth were either still in the creation process or considered unreliable by the vast majority of early Christians.
Making A Bible
Until the twentieth century came along, the Christian consensus maintained that the Gospel authors finished their works some time between 50-70 CE, a date based on the inclusion of vague references to the destruction of Jerusalem. With the exception of a few individuals refusing to budge from their own agendas, the Christian community has now conceded that this was an optimistic assessment. Their current estimations are now moving into the early end of the 70-120 CE spectrum provided by unbiased secular scholars. Although there’s no direct evidence to contradict the early extreme of that assessment, I find it difficult to accept that no one would reference the Gospels through the first five decades of their existence. Thus, we must consider the Christian silence of the late first century and compare it to the movement’s explosion in the early second century.
As a matter of personal opinion, I surmise that 100 CE is an approximate but fair designation (for reasons far too lengthy to discuss here) for the first Gospel. Essentially, one person’s guess is as good as any, provided some impartial and unbiased research on the subject is involved. There’s simply no foreseeable way for the Gospels to have positively affixed dates from the universally held 50-120 CE composite timeframe.
Even worse than not being able to date the scriptures, we can’t be sure of who wrote them. The authors don’t positively identify themselves by the names designated in the titles or by any other handle. In addition, not one of the authors claims to have personally known Jesus. This is no surprise for Mark and Luke, but Matthew and John were two of his disciples. Moreover, the Gospels are written in a manner hardly befitting of eyewitnesses: third person. Furthermore, there are no known original documents for the accounts, only copies. Since it’s probable that several people handed the tales down via oral recitation before they were archived, thus the “Gospel According to X” designation preceding each one, we have a justifiable reason for the glaring complications and contradictions among the four books.
You may have noticed that I mentioned the Gospel of Thomas in the previous section, a reference definitely capable of arousing confusion for readers who have never researched early extrabiblical Christian writings. Instead of there only being four divinely appointed Gospel writers to represent the most important person ever to walk the earth, there were at least a dozen authors who claim to have a unique story about Jesus. Incidentally, there were about seventy-five known Gospels, epistles, and letters eligible for New Testament inclusion; a mere third of these made the cut. Since a number of the Gospels, such as James, Nicodemus, Mary, and Peter, weren’t chosen to be enshrined in the Bible, you may be curious who made the decision to include only the four now-canonized versions of Jesus’ life.
With the explosion of Gospel accounts in the second century, containment was an obvious priority for keeping the religion within reasonable limits. The first man known to have offered such a proposal on behalf of the church was Irenaeus of Lyon around 180 CE. His idea was to accredit only four Gospels because there were four zones of the world, four winds, four forms of living creatures, four divisions of man’s estate, and four beasts of the apocalypse. For these poorly thought-out reasons, Irenaeus believed that there should only be four Gospels accepted by the church. As was the case for the horrendous slave-trading institution having its origins in superstitious nonsense, it certainly follows that the most potentially important books in human history would have been decided in a likewise manner. Instead of God providing an unquestionably fitting reason for these Gospel choices, we have a perfectly appropriate act of senselessness leading to the foundation of contemporary Christian faith. Yet, it’s no wonder surrogate accounts, such as the Infancy Gospel, didn’t make the cut when you consider that Jesus strikes his teachers and playmates dead for attempting to correct him.
Just like the apologists of every world religion, I could make the same bald assertion that the Infancy Gospel, along with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, had God’s inspiration to make it 100% accurate. If anyone thinks that they can find a way to invalidate my claim, I’ll simply generate a “how-it-could-have-been-scenario” that maintains the Gospel’s inerrancy while paying no attention to the improbability and absurdity of my proposed solution.
What if Irenaeus accidentally omitted a fifth truthful Gospel that contained an additional prerequisite for entering into Heaven? Christians won’t accept the stated extrabiblical requirement because there are four, not five, beasts of the apocalypse. I trust that you understand the fundamental flaw with the blatantly uncertain Christian system.
The Canonical Gospels
Most likely for no other reason than to round out the beasts of the apocalypse, John was chosen to be one of the four Gospels. For the sake of cohesive inerrancy, it would have been more beneficial in its absence. Although the author doesn’t venture too far on a tangent from the life of Jesus depicted in the other canon Gospels, there are some distinguished omissions in this account. The most notable absences are the exorcism of devils, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness, the transfiguration, the virgin birth from Mary, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ proclamations of his return, and every last one of the parables. Scholars agree that the original Gospel of John started at 1:19 and ended at 20:31. Furthermore, they’ve determined that the remainder of the book seems heavily edited and reworked. For these reasons, John fails to be an unquestionably reliable and synoptic source of divine inspiration for the story of Jesus.
Scholars unanimously agree that Mark is the most primitive of the four canon Gospels. Its details are relatively less developed, consequently making this biography of Jesus very brief. Interestingly, Jesus’ primary biographer was obviously a distant Roman who never knew him. In fact, the original version of Mark doesn’t even contain Jesus’ appearance following his crucifixion (16:9-19)! This concession is made in the NIV but left out of the KJV. Even though the author was from Rome, he provided enough minor details to have a fair understanding of his subject. Why, then, would he leave out the indispensable element of the world’s most important story unless he lived during a period without a resurrection rumor?
Since about 80% of the verses in Mark appear verbatim in Matthew, we can seemingly tell that the author of Matthew used Mark as a template when writing his own account. However, he alters many of Mark’s details and adds several stories presumably unknown to its author. The Gospel of Matthew most certainly had a Jewish writer since he strives to correct many of the mistakes arising from Mark’s ignorance of local knowledge. Since we have no clear evidence that the author of Matthew was one of Jesus’ disciples, we can’t rule out the likely possibility of its author simply plagiarizing the Mark account in order to make it more acceptable to residents of the Middle East. It’s far too coincidental for the writings to match so well in some passages and contradict in others for there not to have been some minor transcribing taking place. Thus, we’ll analyze the contrasting details of the two accounts in order to exemplify the unreliability of the latest God-inspired product.
Mark (1:2) makes an incorrect reference to Hebrew scripture by quoting Malachi 3:1 as being the work of Isaiah. The KJV does not contain this error, although biblical translations concerned more with honesty and accuracy than advancing inerrancy leave the misattribution in the text. Needless to say, the more knowledgeable Matthew author doesn’t repeat Mark’s mistake. Mark also claims that only God can forgive the sin of another (2:7), but that’s a direct contrast to actual Jewish beliefs, which hold that other men can forgive sins as well. Again, Matthew drops this statement from the record (9:3). Mark mentions the region of Gadarenes being near a large body of water, but it’s about thirty miles from even a sizable lake (5:1). The Matthew author, realizing that Mark knows next to nothing about local geography, changes Gadarenes to Gergesenes, which is only a few miles from a lake (8:28).
Mark mentions multiple “rulers of the synagogue” even though almost all synagogues only had a single leader (5:22). The Matthew author corrected this phrase so that the reader could ambiguously interpret it as having only one ruler (9:18). Mark records Jesus ridiculing the ancient food laws set by God and Moses (7:18-19), but the author of Matthew, being a Jew, no doubt considered this to be sacrilegious and dropped the passage from his account (15:18-20). Mark also has Jesus misquoting one of the commandments as refraining from defrauding others (10:19). Meanwhile, Matthew strictly adheres to the exact commandments of Moses by omitting this curious deception rule but including the “love one another’’ summary commandment (19:18-19). The author of Mark strangely refers to David as “our father” (11:10). This is something no Jew would ever do because all Jews weren’t descendents of David. Seeing as how Abraham and Jacob would be the only individuals referred to in this manner, the desire for accuracy forces the Matthew author to correct another one of Mark’s blunders (21:9).
Mark also gets the traditional date for killing the Passover incorrect (14:12), but the Matthew author settles the mistake by omitting the phrase from his own work (26:17). The very next verse in Mark has Jesus ordering two of his disciples to locate a man bearing a pitcher of water (14:13). In Jewish culture, carrying pitchers of water was the work of a woman. Naturally, Matthew must drop this phrase as well (26:18). On the night of the crucifixion, Mark says that it’s the time before the Sabbath (15:42). Being a Roman, the author was obviously unaware that the Jewish day begins with the evening. Thus, the evening following the crucifixion wasn’t the night before the Sabbath; it was the start of it. Matthew must yet again omit one of Mark’s divinely inspired statements in the transcription (27:57). Unaware that the Sabbath had already arrived, Mark’s account has Joseph of Arimathaea buying linen to wrap around Jesus’ body (15:46). Because it was a sin to make purchases on the Sabbath, Matthew must consequentially drop that detail as well (27:59). Finally, Mark mentions “the fourth watch of the night” (6:48). The Jews actually divided the night into only three watches, while the Romans made the division into fourths.
The author of Matthew makes a few additional minor corrections from Mark’s account, but I trust that you get the point I’m attempting to convey. However uncomfortable it may feel, the divinely inspired author of the earliest Jesus biography, who seemingly invented details out of thin air, knew very little about what he was writing.
The Gospel of Luke begins with a surmised admission that the author didn’t personally experience any of the details contained within his account because he alleges the presence of eyewitnesses but fails to notify himself as one. Like Mark’s Gospel, Luke was probably narrated by an individual residing far from Jerusalem because he commits several translational errors when converting Old Testament Hebrew scripture into Greek. Additionally, in a manner similar to the way in which Mark was penned, Luke’s author goes into extensive detail on his explanations of local phenomena but not those pertaining to Rome. Following the lead of Matthew’s author, Luke’s consistent duplication of Mark’s verses seemingly indicates that he also relied heavily on that text when making his report. However, researchers soon discovered that they could not find 230 verses common to Matthew and Luke in the more ancient Mark.
The two more recent authors couldn’t have derived identical verses from a sole source void of necessary information. Consequently, we can only surmise the hypothetical existence of an even earlier document used by all three authors as a template. This deduction would eventually become known as the Q hypothesis (from the German Quelle, meaning source). The canonical appearance of quotes from Thomas’ Gospel reinforces the theoretical existence of Q. While Thomas was completed around the same time as John, it offered an entirely different perspective on the mystery of Jesus. Even though the Thomas account is nothing but a series of Jesus’ sayings, it may help to explain the origin of other Gospel material. Thus, it’s quite possible that a primitive set of quotes served as the foundation from which the Gospel legends arose. In such a scenario, the early Jews may have actually known a man who traveled about and shared his philosophies with a number of audiences. This individual may have even been executed for his heretical teachings. His followers would then collect these teachings on paper, only to later subject them to decades of human hyperbole.
The Conventional Idea
The whole concept of a male god and his son wasn’t novel to the world when stories of Jesus began to emerge. Almost all preceding religions and philosophies contain a gender-ridden god of anger who speaks to his chosen people through an earthly medium, most often his son. It’s somewhat amusing that the “one and only true God” would choose the exact same tired avenue of communication.
Historians refer to the original concept likely serving as a basis for the exaggerated Jesus as Logos, the communicating spiritual medium between a deity and its chosen people. The idea had been floating around for centuries prior to Jesus’ arrival and probably started with the prophet Zarathustra who founded Zoroastrianism around 600 BCE.
Even more lethal to the Christian cause is the unoriginal nature of Jesus Christ himself. Around 3000 BCE, the ancient Egyptians had the Sun God Trinity of Atum (father), Horus (son), and Ra (holy spirit). When we take the Egyptian Book of Vivifying the Soul Forever into consideration, Jesus appears to be a mere carbon copy of Horus. Supporters of both beings claim that their respective subjects are the light of the world, the way, the truth, and the life; refer to them as good shepherds, lambs, and morning stars; claim that they are children of virgins; associate them with a cross and refer to them as Christ/Krst; claim that they have a revelation and bear witness to the world; claim that they initiate their educations at the age of twelve and have twelve followers; claim that they venture out on a boat with seven other passengers; and claim that they become baptized with water upon which they’re miraculously able to levitate. There are few more parallels than what I’ve listed here, but they’re rather loose. This analysis isn’t one of those laughable lists in which an author is determined to parallel a given celebrity with the antichrist; these are two sons of gods from Middle Eastern religions, alike in an unforgettable abundance of ways. What evidence do we truly hold that we should reject one while we embrace the other?
The comparison of Jesus to other religious characters doesn’t end with Horus. Hercules is another famous legendary figure consistently drawing parallels with Jesus. Both were products of the local primary god and a human mother; both had members of royalty seeking to kill them in infancy; both were travelers who helped people as they made their journeys; and both became widely worshipped as heroes following their deaths. Like Jesus, Hercules is a notable reference in many subsequent historical books. In fact, Josephus and Tacitus both mention Hercules in their exhaustive works. Like Jesus, Hercules failed to leave artifacts or eyewitness accounts for his existence. As you can see, Jesus and Hercules are drifting in the same boat with only one exception: Christianity survived the collapse of the Roman Empire while ancient Greek religions did not. As was the case for Horus, why should Hercules face rejection while Jesus is readily accepted?
Aside from Horus and Hercules, there are hosts of supernatural figures remarkably similar to the Christian one. The stories of Attis, Isis, Dionysos, Mithras, Osiris, Hermes, Prometheus, and Perseus include aspects of sacred meals, fasting, wise men, temporary deaths, violent confrontations, celestial birth announcements, virgin mothers, divine fathers, and insurmountable odds for surviving through infancy. If Jesus is the son of the one true God, why is his origin so pathetically unoriginal that we could have easily predicted it using a random religion generator that contained aspects of preceding superstitious myths? Out of the hundreds of divine creatures allegedly capable of miraculous performances, what actual evidence, not blind faith or gut feelings, tells Christians that Jesus is the force behind their comfortable sensations? Remember, correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation.
As I mentioned in This Way and That: Biblical Contradictions, there’s a discrepancy between two Gospel accounts of at least ten years on when the world’s savior was born. That’s the equivalent of two people disagreeing today on whether Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States when Bob Hope was born. However, the potential importance of Bob Hope is nothing compared to that of the alleged son of God. While it’s true that we have increasingly accurate records in our modern society, it shouldn’t be insurmountably difficult to remember a specific year when an individual was born because biblical authors tend to base their dates relative to concurrent events. Such a comparative detail can hardly be easily exaggerated by the passage of time. If, on the other hand, people whimsically created the birth story decades after its setting, we could anticipate this large discrepancy. Also, remember that the Gospel writers had the advantage of divine inspiration for maintaining consistency. What modern technology could be more helpful in preventing complications than an omnipotent god’s assistance? Nevertheless, Christians would like the world to believe that Jesus was born during the distinctive incumbencies of King Herod and Quirinius.
The crucifixion legend has many problems in addition to the previously covered contradictions. Although the Romans rarely crucified thieves, we see them executing one on each side of Jesus. Even though Romans never performed executions so close to the Passover, they ignore tradition and carry out the crucifixions on the day before this sacred observance. While the Romans were meticulous in their documentation, they have no record of Jesus or his crucifixion. The whole idea of this Roman procession should be disconcerting if you consider that Rome, the undeniable democratic leader of the planet, didn’t offer Jesus due process.
Yet another reason why it’s highly improbable that the son of God appeared in human form was the tendency of religious Jews to be very adamant about keeping a separation between God and the human appearance. The Israelites even rioted on one occasion because a picture of Caesar appeared in the vicinity of their temple. It wouldn’t make much sense for them to readily accept a human savior when you take their willful convictions into consideration. Even so, thousands of Jews quickly accepted the notion of Christ. Instead of the immensely popular human Jesus, they most likely acknowledged and worshipped the aforementioned spiritual presence of God’s son. As time progressed and the Gospels emerged, however, those in the region who believed that their recent ancestors worshipped a human savior joined the Christian movement. Others who adhered to the traditional spiritual presence remained loyal to Judaism. To this day, the Jews do not acknowledge a human presence as the son of God.
The Truth Hurts, Unfortunately
According to Christian preaching, we are to accept Jesus Christ based on the divinely inspired accounts contained within the Gospels. Fortunately, one can easily demonstrate the fundamental flaw in blindly accepting such outrageous claims. Even though this supernatural being was supposedly performing unbelievable miracles before rising from the dead, historians and philosophers neglected these theoretical milestones in favor of mundane historical accounts. Consequently, we don’t have an attempted portrayal of an earthly Jesus until several decades following his supposed execution.
Paul was the most important initiator of the religious movement, yet he never conclusively mentions any earthly activity of his subject. In a nutshell, the Gospels are wholly unreliable because they present obvious ignorance of Jewish traditions, contradiction-inducing variations of oral tradition, a lack of eyewitnesses, extraordinary claims without a shred of evidence, known historical anomalies, inexplicably delayed reporting, probable acts of plagiarism, embarrassing scientific blunders, and unoriginal religious themes invoked many centuries before Christianity ever came into being.
I can think of no more than two reasonable hypotheses for the origin of Jesus Christ. Whichever is correct, either upcoming scenario is incalculably more likely to represent what took place 2000 years ago than the wishful thinking that Christians rapidly but blindly develop. The first possibility, and the more probable in my opinion, is that a respectable teacher from Jerusalem who preached his beliefs to a variety of audiences served as an earthly template for a spiritual entity. While his lessons may have been positively motivating for some, he may have pushed the envelope far enough to warrant his death in the opinions of others. As the gossip of his life spread in subsequent years, his followers probably went into a desperate frenzy to positively determine that sacred Old Testament prophecies foretold the arrival of this well-liked man. Spotting possible links here and there, certain individuals may have combined post hoc details, real life events, and the notion of a mythical Christ until the stories were arbitrarily deemed worthy of recording. The only sensible alternative to this “true historical figure” proposal requires us to write-off the stories as total myths arising from known social desperation and ancient superstition.
There’s simply no reasonable method of deduction allowing us to accept the legitimacy of Jesus Christ as the son of the universe’s omnipotent and omniscient creator. The Christian community doesn’t acknowledge stories similar to the ones in the New Testament because they appear in religious texts outside of the Bible. In reality, the Jesus story engages as much sensibility as any other unsubstantiated claims made by a number of ancient religions. For these reasons, we must consider the incredibly dubious set of Jesus biographies to be the final nail in the Bible’s coffin.