Why a historical Jesus never existed

This was listed as a reference to the FB discussion on Resurrection.  I’ll let the article go uncommented and reserve mine until the end in italics.

Why a historical Jesus never existed

http://www.bandoli.no/whyjesus.htm


There is no contemporary historical record of any kind of Jesus!! No written Roman, Greek or Jewish sources from this time (apart from the gospels) know of any historical Jesus or Christ. The name “Christ” is mentioned in some later texts (Tacitus, Suetonius Pliny d.y.) but then merely as the name of the idol of the Christians’ worship (Read what these sources really say here). We don’t even know who the writers of the Gospels were, and don’t have the original manuscripts themselves either. We just have later copies of copies of copies of copies … of copies of the assumed lost originals. And with each copy the copyist usually felt free to alter details or rewrite whole parts of the manuscript. (We usually don’t trust dubious anonymous sources as evidence for anything, do we?)

All the divine aspects of the Jesus figure are “stolen” from earlier similar dying and resurrected godmen, such as Dionysos, Osiris, Hercules, Attis, Mithra, Horus, Zarathustra and others. Actually there are few (if any) things about Jesus that are original at all. Jesus is just the Jewish version of this popular mythic Saviour- character in the Mystery-religions of Antiquity. (See the similarities here).

All the teachings of Jesus are “borrowed” from older sources, for example from the teachings of Buddha. Many of Jesus teachings are almost word for word identical with some of Buddhas sayings (400 years earlier). The so-called “Golden rule” can be found in several earlier pagan Greek (and Jewish) texts. The famous “Sermon on the Mount” was never held by Jesus (of course, since he never existed), but also because it was actually first produced in the second century AD by Christian priests, assembled from what they assumed were sayings of Jesus in different other texts.

The “birthday” of Jesus is of course unknown, not even the year of his miraculous birth is known. The church just stole the already popular date of the 25th December, which in Antiquity was an immensely popular celebration of the birth of the sungod Mithra, – “the light of the world“.
More on the origin of Christmas – see the here

The story of Jesus was originally an allegorical story based partly on the Jewish exodus myth and Joshua/Jesus ben Nun, successor of Moses, the Jewish Messiah-myth and the widespread pagan myth of the dying and resurrected godman Dionysos-Osiris. Later uneducated Christians in Rome, people without the insight and understanding of the deeper meaning of the texts, started to take these allegorical stories for their face value, and Literary Christianity as we know it was born.

Note:
Much of the writings and research on the Jesus figure is amazingly biased, vague, tendentious and pervaded with wishful thinking.

One should in general be a bit sceptical to Christian scholars who often (obviously) don’t have the necessary distance to their subject and obviously seem to be on a mission to prove the statements in the Bible, no matter what the real evidence say. As Christians they are usually convinced that Jesus did once exist as a real person in the first place, and are just looking for a confirmation.

The reader should of course not take my assertions for granted either, but investigate the sources themselves, also the critical literature. The conclusions are then just a matter of honesty.


The note above needs to be taken seriously because when you do investigate the sources you find them greatly lacking in truth and reliability as follows:

If you were to take on a survey of ancient mythology seeking  to compare the simplistic Enuma Elish–Genesis you will make simple assertions; one must consider the larger body of evidence to seek out the truth. When this is done, distinct patterns emerge: pagan, polytheistic mythology moves in the same direction, whatever the culture—generation by sexual union, conflict among the gods, continuum of gods and earth substance, and the emergent supremacy of one god among the many.The author references their own web page (dang, here we go again, I just wish I was egotistical enough to reference my own writings – wait a minute I do do that- but my pages have references that can be examined and cross-reference and do not consist of my own thoughts alone. http://www.bandoli.no/nooriginaljesus.htm is interesting but confers on many of the so called prior gods some attributes that they did not originally have, but then that would hurt the point the author is trying so hard to make.)

By contrast the narrative of Genesis 1 begins with the one true God who is there at the beginning; there is a clear Creator-creature distinction; there is a straight forward tone about Genesis 1, untainted with the crudities of mythology and showing forth a transcendent God. Hence pagan mythology is basically all of one genre; Genesis is in a step above.

Another important conclusion to emerge from this  type of survey is to expose a simple, but common fallacy, i.e. that if B resembles A, therefore B has borrowed from A. There could be several explanations for any semblance, literary dependence being only one of them. Yet this fallacy has dominated comparative mythology and religion studies.  In the hunt for literary parallels to Genesis—and Christianity generally—everyone makes assumptions that in pagan literature and motifs, there are ‘amazing parallels.’

Finally, the phenomenon of creation stories seemingly “tacked on” to stories about the generation and conflict of gods has considerable plausibility. Accepting Genesis 1 as the true and factual creation story would therefore explain how increasingly garbled versions of creation get circulated independently in differing forms among various ethnic groups in antiquity, and eventually came to be attached to debased, polytheistic myths at some early stage in the post-Flood era. Meanwhile, Genesis preserves the pristine and pure form of the creation narrative.

Let us take for example Hercules as presented on that web page: “Who was born by a mortal virgin mother and had a divine Father, and was known as the “Saviour of the world”? Before he was born his parents wandered to a bigger town, and prophets had foretold his birth and that he would be a king. This instigated a search for the infant Saviour by a leading figure who wanted to kill him. After growing up the Son of God was shown all the kingdoms of the world from a high mountain. He also walked on water and when he met his end his mother and his favorite disciple stood by him. He then tells his mother: “Do not cry, I’m going to heaven”. When he dies he utter: “It is finished” and the earth trembles and darkness cover the land. Then he ascended to heaven, and his greatest achievement was to conquer death. “

A god having sexual relations with a human woman is not a parallel for virgin birth, by definition.

Like many Greek heroes and demigods, Hercules fought lots of battles, killed lots of bad guys, etc. He was credited with making the world safe for mankind because he killed many monsters. In exactly what sense do they mean he was the ‘savior of the world’? And I couldn’t find any reference of the actual phrase “savior of the world” being used to describe him.

Out of the nine reference sources (including two college textbooks on Mythology), I couldn’t find any accounts of prophets foretelling Hercules’s birth, or that he would be a king. The closest I could find relates to Heracles (not the same person, as Heracles is the Greek hero from whom the Roman Hercules is derived). According to the Greek legend, Heracles’ mother Alcmene was simultaneously pregnant with Heracles by Zeus and his half brother Iphicles by her husband. Knowing that Heracles would be a descendant of Perseus, Hera tricked Zeus into vowing that the next-born descendant of Perseus would be High King. Zeus did so thinking that Heracles would be born next, but Hera made the goddess of childbirth delay Heracles’ birth while causing another descendant of Perseus to be born prematurely.

The ‘leader who wanted to kill him’ is Hera, Zeus’s jealous wife. Hardly counts as a parallel with Jesus.

I was unable to find any reference to Heracles or Hercules walking on water, or anything that could reasonably be interpreted as close to walking on water such as a frozen lake. His mother isn’t even present at the version of his death I was able to find, and I wasn’t able to find anything approximating ‘it is finished’ in the death story, either.

Let us try another pagan god story: Dionysos

Now, who was the real Son of God, born by a mortal virgin mother, and often presented as the venerated newborn infant, or depicted riding a donkey? He healed the sick and did numerous wonders, among those making fine wine from plain water. He was killed but resurrected from the dead and became immortal. The followers of this God often ate a holy meal in a kind of sacramental union with the deity to achieve immortality after their death. One of this god’s finest achievements was his death, his sacrifice, which delivers the whole human kind.

Every member of the pantheon was a ‘god’ and all the demigods who resulted from Zeus’s numerous trysts. Hardly a comparison with Jesus. And again a result of ‘divine’ fornication, as with Zeus’s other kids.

Because other figures ride donkeys, Jesus can’t? That’s a trivial comparison. And the symbolism of the donkey is hardly the same.

I was unable to find any healing attributed to Dionysus, and he was the god of the vine, but I couldn’t find any accounts of him turning water into wine.

Depending on which myth is under consideration, he either was reincarnated or didn’t die—in the most common version, his mother is killed, leaving the fetal Dionysus behind. Zeus sews the fetus into his thigh and carries him until he is ready to be born. And a lot of the demigods eventually became immortal, but the idea of true bodily resurrection was repugnant to Greeks, which is why Paul had to straighten out the Corinthian Church regarding the resurrection (see 1 Corinthians 15)

I can find no connection between his death and delivering humanity. He was known as a bringer of peace, but this had more to do with him bringing wine and festivals with him.

Now since going through the other mythical figures listed on that web page.  That is what is so great about myths- you can make up things to prove your misguided point and claim it as true.

It’s only rank ignorance, both of the social world of early Christianity, and of the particulars of those other religions, that allows things like this to survive. It’s hard to decide whether to counter these with serious arguments like the above, or with hysterical laughter. They want us to question our faith, and this is the best they have to offer?

In short, only someone who hasn’t done his homework would ever reject Christianity on the basis of pagan parallels. Christianity has been shown to be historically reliable, and to reflect events that actually happened. Even the Jewish opponents of Jesus had to explain away the empty tomb somehow.

Points of contact between Christianity and other religions are damaging to Christianity’s truth claims only if actual borrowings can be proven – not if the parallel features have simply sprung from the same psychological source common to all humans – that is, from the innate religious instinct which Christians regard as a gift of God.

I cannot think of a single case in which Christianity can be shown to have borrowed a core doctrine from another religion. This does not include minor borrowings which everyone admits, such as the dating of Christmas to 25th December (an old Roman sun-festival), or the use of holy water and incense in worship, or the wearing of wedding rings, or dedicating churches to named saints (just as pagan temples were dedicated to different deities).

In such cases, the borrowings were not clumsy or furtive: rather, they were deliberate and unashamed.

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