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Examining The Jesus Myth

The Gospel writers and editors were myth-makers. Many historians suspect the authors didn’t base their writings on a genuine character, and they may be right. No contemporary archaeological evidence has ever been found for Yeshua’s existence. Do contemporary historians mention him?

Pic courtesy of Patheos.com

Pic courtesy of Patheos.com

Flavius Josephus (37–100 CE), a prolific and comprehensive Jewish historian, who would frequently write a few pages on the execution of common Jewish thieves, has not one authentic line that mentions Yeshua. “He” does mention “Christ” on two occasions, yet both have been convincingly exposed as interpolations. So if Yeshua existed, either Josephus chose not to write about him, or early Christians destroyed his record because it didn’t fit with their manufactured image.

Justus of Tiberias (35–100 CE) was a first-century Jewish author born in Galilee. Although he wrote extensively about contemporary Jewish history, there is no record that he ever mentioned Jesus.

Philo-Judæus, a prolific writer and historian, was an Alexandrian Jew who visited Jerusalem in the years Jesus was allegedly teaching and working miracles. He too failed to mention Jesus.

We might expect Jewish religious officials to have said a significant amount about him, but they didn’t. The earliest references to him in Judaic rabbinical literature didn’t occur before the third century CE and bear little relation to the Jesus of the Gospels.

jesus never existedWhat about the Roman writers of the first century? There are no Roman records of Pilate’s or Herod’s dealings with Jesus. The Roman world left behind senate records and volumes of other writings, which provide historians with a large amount of data, yet nothing about Jesus. Edward Gibbon, writing in the latter half of the eighteenth century in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, stated:

“How shall we excuse the supine inattention of the Pagan and philosophic world to those evidences which were presented by the hand of Omnipotence, not to their reason, but to their senses? During the age of Christ, of his apostles, and of their first disciples, the doctrine which they preached was confirmed by innumerable prodigies. The lame walked, the blind saw, the sick were healed, the dead were raised, demons were expelled, and the laws of nature were frequently suspended for the benefit of the Church. But the sages of Greece and Rome turned aside from the awful spectacle, and, pursuing the ordinary occupations of life and study, appeared unconscious of any alterations in the moral or physical government of the world.” Gibbon devoted twenty or so years of his life to his classic seventeen-volume work on the Roman Empire. It’s the result of exhaustive research, so we can trust that his comments are authoritative.

Saint Paul, who probably appeared on the historical scene only fifteen plus years after Yeshua’s death, does repeatedly commend his Christ, but some scholars suspect he refers to a different character to the human Yeshua. If this is so, his references to “Jesus” are interpolations. Whether or not Paul’s Christ was Yeshua, his writings are remarkably deficient in facts about Jesus.

Pliny the younger did mention the existence of Christians in Asia Minor in 112 CE, but wrote nothing about Jesus the person.

It’s said that in 115 CE, the Roman historian Tacitus made the first mention of Jesus. However, this reference isn’t mentioned by any of the church Fathers (eminent priests and theologians of early Christianity,) and is considered by many historians to be a forgery. This reference is frequently referred to in pro-Christian literature.

The surprising truth is that no contemporary literate official, scribe, merchant, soldier or priest documented details about Jesus that have survived. If he’d preached to thousands, cured cripples, expelled demons, and risen from the dead, surely some of these people would have jotted down some notes about him, but it appears they didn’t.

Despite the dearth of reputable evidence, I think a man named Yeshua probably did exist, and that parts of the Gospel plots are loosely based on his life. My reasoning is as follows.

There is non-biblical evidence for the existence of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, and for James, Jesus’ brother. John and James were leaders of a Jewish sect, the Nazarenes, and many scholars claim Yeshua was their boss between these two, an idea that fits with what we know about Yeshua. The Nazarenes soldiered on for a few centuries after Jesus’ death, weren’t Christians, and there’s evidence from the church fathers’ writings that they believed Yeshua had existed.

Paul, the creator of Christian theology, claimed he met James and Peter, who may have been Yeshua’s brother and disciple.

I propose that Yeshua probably existed, but his life story was far less remarkable than the Gospels would have us believe. I think his genuine historical record, if it ever existed, would have recorded his insignificance, so was destroyed by evangelical Christians sometime in the second, third or fourth centuries.

Once Yeshua’s existence is assumed, anyone who writes about him must comb through the Gospels to get specifics about his life. This is unfortunate, because the Gospels are unreliable records; yet to do so is unavoidable because details about him are lacking in other literature.

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Posted by on October 13, 2013. Filed under COMMENTARY/NEWS,HERESY. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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7 years ago

You atheists don’t know what you’re talkin about because its about the faith of Jesus. ONly the truly blessed have the fortitude of faith and we will get our reward on that day when when out Lord God descends from his heavenly palace and smites you bastard atheist scum and takes the rest of us who were faithful to Him to his paradise. An you atheists will all rot in hell for all eternity.

Mark Fulton
Reply to  LChristine1950
7 years ago

It’s always nice to have a learned, nuanced opinion from a Christian to balance out an argument. Thankyou for being such a genuine advocate for your faith.

James Smith
Reply to  LChristine1950
7 years ago

As usual, the arrogant, uninformed opinion from another delusional religious person. Faith? That’s like beliefs. It’s accepting something as true with no supporting evidence and even much evidence against it. How intelligent is that?

Also, you add the normal threat of divine retribution. If you had even a smattering of a fact or a smidgen of logic, you’d use that. But you don’t, so it’s false promises of heaven and empty threats of hell.
Do you have any idea of how ludicrously simple-minded that makes you appear? No, of course you don’t. Facts and rational thinking are always fatal to any religion so followers never indulge in either.

You believers would be disappointed when you die, but there will be no way for you to know. One moment, you’re alive, the next moment, it’s nothing. No heaven, no hell, nothing. Your life is wasted on lies and myths.

E.A. Blair
E.A. Blair
Reply to  LChristine1950
7 years ago

It’s people like you, LChristine, who make me wish that your Rapture were real so we’d be well rid of a lot of really annoying people. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, nobody, not even Jesus himself, has been right about the end of the world, and you are no better than anyone else in that regard. If I could design an afterlife, it would be one in which people like you, instead of what you hope you’d earned would instead get what you fear you really, truly deserve.

Michael John Scott
Reply to  LChristine1950
7 years ago

With each of your keystrokes you support the fact that you Christians are just plain mean and crazy.

James Smith
Reply to  Michael John Scott
7 years ago

Apparently, another “drive-by” poster. The religious often do this. They spout their nonsense and then run so they will not have to be exposed to any rebuttles.

7 years ago

This narrative has been rewritten and replayed for centuries. The fact is there is no proof of a Jesus as described in the Bible, but there’s also no proof that Jesus didn’t exist. That’s that. A conundrum.

Timmy Mahoney
Timmy Mahoney
7 years ago

Of course there was a Jesus. He wasn’t a myth. As a matter of fact he exists today, and could be the guy cutting your lawn. Jesus is a popular name, and I’ve no doubt there were lots of the little buggers running about. The myth makers simply took the most popular name of the day, applied it to their stories, and made him divine. The imagination of the people of that time did the rest, along with the self serving religious and political powers of the day. In reality it doesn’t matter if “He” existed, because none of the nonsense attributed to him is real.

Glenn Geist
7 years ago

I have no doubt that materials were destroyed as well as edited and redacted and of course invented. We have little enough about more successful Messiahs and really this one didn’t make the slightest dent in history until much later when it didn’t make any difference whether he ever lived or not. If he really was picked up by authorities he would have been summarily executed without trial as those suspected of sedition were. I’m convinced, from decades of reading, that all the stories of trials were later additions designed to shift blame from the Romans to “the Jews” as Christianity became a Roman thing and of course even before that, blaming the Romans for anything was punishable by death and all books were subject to censorship.

BTW, I always thought it funny to blame “the Jews” when Jesus and company were the Jews.

Certainly the Jesus as depicted in later and later texts never existed and need I mention the Jesus who claimed he was coming back within the generation then living?

James Smith
7 years ago

In support of what you say, I offer this:

A Few Noticeable Events in the Life of Jesus

Herod’s slaughter of all the baby boys in Bethlehem.

Jesus’ triumphant entry in Jerusalem, where the entire town welcomes him as their king.

Jesus casting out the greedy moneychangers. (in an area about the size of 34 football fields)

Two earthquakes hit Jerusalem.

Supernatural darkness covers “all the land” for hours.

The Sacred Temple curtain tears from top to bottom.

All the dead holy men in the cemetery come out of their graves and wander Jerusalem, “appearing to many.”

And yet, contemporary historians in the time of Jesus didn’t write about any of this.

It is clear to me that the founders of christianity were liars as much as is Pat Robertson, Glenn Beck, and the other “christians of today. Why shouldn’t they be? It’s been working very well for almost 2,000 years. Why abandon the gullible now?