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No evidence for the existence of various prophets

Did a historical Jesus exist?


Reliable evidence for a historical Jesus does not exist and all claims of Jesus
derive from hearsay accounts. No one has the slightest physical evidence to
support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-
written manuscripts. All claims about Jesus derive from writings of other people.
There occurs no contemporary Roman record that shows Pontius Pilate executing a
man named Jesus. Devastating to historians, there occurs not a single contemporary
writing that mentions Jesus. All documents about Jesus got written well after the
life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met
an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings. Hearsay
means information derived from other people rather than on a witness' own
knowledge. Hearsay provides no proof or good evidence, and therefore, we should
dismiss it. We know from history about witchcraft trials and kangaroo courts that
hearsay provides neither reliable nor fair statements of evidence. We know that
mythology can arise out of no good information whatsoever. We live in a world
where many people believe in demons, UFOs, ghosts, or monsters, and an innumerable
number of fantasies believed as fact taken from nothing but belief and hearsay.
The same reasoning must go against the claims of a historical Jesus or any other
historical person. The most "authoritative" accounts of a historical Jesus come
from the four canonical Gospels of the Bible. Note that these Gospels did not come
into the Bible as original and authoritative from the authors themselves, but
rather from the influence of early church fathers, especially the most influential
of them all: Irenaeus of Lyon who lived in the middle of the second century. Many
heretical gospels got written by that time, but Irenaeus considered only some of
them for mystical reasons. The four gospels then became Church cannon for the
orthodox faith. Most of the other claimed gospel writings were burned, destroyed,
or lost. Although the gospels of the New Testament-- like those discovered at Nag
Hammadi-- are attributed to Jesus' followers, no one knows who actually wrote any
of them. Not only do we not know who wrote them, consider that none of the Gospels
got written during the alleged life of Jesus, nor do the unknown authors make the
claim to have met an earthly Jesus. Add to this that none of the original gospel
manuscripts exist; we only have copies of copies. The consensus of many biblical
historians put the dating of the earliest Gospel, that of Mark, at sometime after
70 C.E., and the last Gospel, John after 90 C.E. This would make it some 40 years
after the alleged crucifixion of Jesus that we have any Gospel writings that
mention him. The first Christian gospel was probably written during the last year
of the war, or the year it ended. Where it was written and by whom we do not know;
the work is anonymous, although tradition attributes it to Mark. The traditional
Church has portrayed the authors as the apostles Mark, Luke, Matthew, & John, but
scholars know from critical textural research that there simply occurs no evidence
that the gospel authors could have served as the apostles described in the Gospel
stories. Yet even today, we hear priests and ministers describing these authors as
the actual disciples of Christ. Many Bibles still continue to label the stories as
"The Gospel according to St. Matthew," "St. Mark," "St. Luke," St. John." No
apostle would have announced his own sainthood before the Church's establishment
of sainthood. See if one can find out from the texts who wrote them and try to
find the author’s name or names. The average life span of humans in the first
century came to around 30, and very few people lived to 70. If the apostles births
occured at about the same time as the alleged Jesus, and wrote their gospels in
their old age, that would put Mark at least 70 years old, and John at over 110.
The gospel of Mark describes the first written Bible gospel. And although Mark
appears deceptively after the Matthew gospel, the gospel of Mark got written at
least a generation before Matthew. From its own words, we can deduce that the
author of Mark had neither heard Jesus nor served as his personal follower.
Whoever wrote the gospel, he simply accepted the mythology of Jesus without
question and wrote a crude an ungrammatical account of the popular story at the
time. Any careful reading of the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) will
reveal that Mark served as the common element between Matthew and Luke and gave
the main source for both of them. Of Mark's 666* verses, some 600 appear in
Matthew, some 300 in Luke. The author of Mark, stands at least at a third remove
from Jesus and more likely at the fourth remove. Most Bibles show 678 verses for
Mark, not 666, but many Biblical scholars think the last 12 verses came later from
interpolation. The earliest manuscripts and other ancient sources do not have Mark
16: 9-20. Moreover the text style does not match and the transition between verse
8 and 9 appears awkward. Even some of today's Bibles such as the NIV exclude the
last 12 verses. The author of Matthew had obviously gotten his information from
Mark's gospel and used them for his own needs. He fashioned his narrative to
appeal to Jewish tradition and Scripture. He improved the grammar of Mark's
Gospel, corrected what he felt theologically important, and heightened the
miracles and magic. The author of Luke admits himself as an interpreter of earlier
material and not an eyewitness (Luke 1:1-4). Many scholars think the author of
Luke lived as a gentile, or at the very least, a hellenized Jew and even possibly
a woman. He (or she) wrote at a time of tension in the Roman empire along with its
fever of persecution. Many modern scholars think that the Gospel of Matthew and
Luke got derived from the Mark gospel and a hypothetical source. John, the last
appearing Bible Gospel, presents us with long theological discourses from Jesus
and could not possibly have come as literal words from a historical Jesus. The
Gospel of John disagrees with events described in Mark, Matthew, and Luke.
Moreover the book got written in Greek near the end of the first century, and the
book "carried within it a very obvious reference to the death of John Zebedee
(John 21:23). Please understand that the stories themselves cannot serve as
examples of eyewitness accounts since they came as products of the minds of the
unknown authors, and not from the characters themselves. The Gospels describe
narrative stories, written almost virtually in the third person. People who wish
to portray themselves as eyewitnesses will write in the first person, not in the
third person. Moreover, many of the passages attributed to Jesus could only have
come from the invention of its authors. For example, many of the statements of
Jesus claim to have come from him while allegedly alone. If so, who heard him? It
becomes even more marked when the evangelists report about what Jesus thought. To
whom did Jesus confide his thoughts? Clearly, the Gospels employ techniques that
fictional writers use. In any case the Gospels can only serve, at best, as
hearsay, and at worst, as fictional, mythological, or falsified stories. Even in
antiquity people like Origen and Eusebius raised doubts about the authenticity of
other books in the New Testament such as Hebrews, James, John 2 & 3, Peter 2,
Jude, and Revelation. Martin Luther rejected the Epistle of James calling it
worthless and an "epistle of straw" and questioned Jude, Hebrews and the
Apocalypse in Revelation. Nevertheless, all New Testament writings came well after
the alleged death of Jesus from unknown authors Paul's biblical letters
(epistles) serve as the oldest surviving Christian texts, written probably around
60 C.E. Most scholars have little reason to doubt that Paul wrote some of them
himself. However, there occurs not a single instance in all of Paul's writings
that he ever meets or sees an earthly Jesus, nor does he give any reference to
Jesus' life on earth. Therefore, all accounts about a Jesus could only have come
from other believers or his imagination. Hearsay. Epistle of James mentions Jesus
only once as an introduction to his belief. Nowhere does the epistle reference a
historical Jesus and this alone eliminates it from an historical account. The
epistles of John, the Gospel of John, and Revelation appear so different in style
and content that they could hardly have the same author. Some suggest that these
writings of John come from the work of a group of scholars in Asia Minor who
followed a "John" or they came from the work of church fathers who aimed to
further the interests of the Church. Or they could have simply come from people
also named John (a very common name). No one knows. Also note that nowhere in the
body of the three epistles of "John" does it mention a John. In any case, the
epistles of John say nothing about seeing an earthly Jesus. Not only do we not
know who wrote these epistles, they can only serve as hearsay accounts. Many
scholars question the authorship of Peter of the epistles. Even within the first
epistle, it says in 5:12 that Silvanus wrote it. Most scholars consider the second
epistle as unreliable or an outright forgery (for some examples, see the
introduction to 2 Peter in the full edition of The New Jerusalem Bible, In short,
no one has any way of determining whether the epistles of Peter come from fraud,
an unknown author also named Peter (a common name) or from someone trying to
further the aims of the Church. Of the remaining books and letters in the Bible,
there occurs no other stretched claims or eyewitness accounts for a historical
Jesus and needs no mention of them here for this deliberation. As for the
existence of original New Testament documents, none exist.
No book of the New Testament survives in the original autograph copy. What we
have then come from copies, and copies of copies, of questionalbe originals (if
the stories came piecemeal over time, as it appears it has, then there may never
have existed an original). The earliest copies we have got written more than a
century later than the autographs, and these exist on fragments of papyrus.
[Pritchard; Graham] According to Hugh Schonfield, "It would be impossible to find
any manuscript of the New Testament older than the late third century, and we
actually have copies from the fourth and fifth. The editing and formation of the
Bible came from members of the early Christian Church. Since the fathers of the
Church possessed the texts and determined what would appear in the Bible, there
occurred plenty of opportunity and motive to change, modify, or create texts that
might bolster the position of the Church or the members of the Church themselves.
Take, for example, Eusebius who served as an ecclesiastical church historian and
bishop. He had great influence in the early Church and he openly advocated the use
of fraud and deception in furthering the interests of the Church. The first
mention of Jesus by Josephus came from Eusebius (none of the earlier church
fathers mention Josephus' Jesus). It comes to no surprise why many scholars think
that Eusebius interpolated his writings. In his Ecclesiastical History, he writes,
"We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be
useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity." (Vol. 8, chapter 2). In
his Praeparatio Evangelica, he includes a chapter titled, "How it may be Lawful
and Fitting to use Falsehood as a Medicine, and for the Benefit of those who Want
to be Deceived" . The Church had such power over people, that to question the
Church could result in death. Regardless of what the Church claimed, people had to
take it as "truth." St. Ignatius Loyola of the 16th century even wrote: "We should
always be disposed to believe that which appears to us to be white is really
black, if the hierarchy of the church so decides." The orthodox Church also fought
against competing Christian cults. Irenaeus, who determined the inclusion of the
four (now canonical) gospels, wrote his infamous book, "Against the Heresies."
According to Romer, "Irenaeus' great book not only became the yardstick of major
heresies and their refutations, the starting-point of later inquisitions, but
simply by saying what Christianity was not it also, in a curious inverted way,
became a definition of the orthodox faith." [Romer] The early Church burned many
heretics, along with their sacred texts. If a Jesus did exist, perhaps eyewitness
writings got burnt along with them because of their heretical nature. We will
never know. With such intransigence from the Church and the admitting to lying for
its cause, the burning of heretical texts, Bible errors and alterations, how could
any honest scholar take any book from the New Testament as absolute, much less
using extraneous texts that support a Church's intolerant and biased position, as
reliable evidence?
GNOSTIC GOSPELS
In 1945, an Arab made an archeological discovery in Upper Egypt of several ancient
papyrus books. They have since referred to it as The Nag Hammadi texts. They
contained fifty-two heretical books written in Coptic script which include gospels
of Thomas, Philip, James, John, Thomas, and many others. Archeologists have dated
them at around 350-400 C.E. They represent copies from previous copies. None of
the original texts exist and scholars argue about a possible date of the
originals. Some of them think that they can hardly have dates later than 120-150
C.E. Others have put it closer to 140 C.E. [Pagels, 1979] Other Gnostic gospels
such as the Gospel of Judas, found near the Egyptian site of the Nag Hammadi
texts, shows a diverse pattern of story telling, always a mark of myth. The Judas
gospel tells of Judas Iscariot as Jesus' most loyal disciple, just opposite that
of the canonical gospel stories. Note that the text does not claim that Judas
Iscariot wrote it. The Judas gospel, a copy written in Coptic, dates to around the
third-to fourth-century. The original Greek version probably dates to between 130
and 170 C.E., around the same tine as the Nag Hammadi texts. Irenaeus first
mentions this gospel in Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies) written around 180
C.E., so we know that this represented a heretical gospel. Since these Gnostic
texts could only have its unknown authors writing well after the alleged life of
Jesus, they cannot serve as historical evidence of Jesus anymore than the
canonical versions. Again, we only have "heretical" hearsay.
What appears most revealing of all, comes not from what got later written about
Jesus but what people did not write about him. Consider that not a single
historian, philosopher, scribe or follower who lived before or during the alleged
time of Jesus ever mentions him! If, indeed, the Gospels portray a historical
look at the life of Jesus, then the one feature that stands out prominently within
the stories shows that people claimed to know Jesus far and wide, not only by a
great multitude of followers but by the great priests, the Roman governor Pilate,
and Herod who claims that he had heard "of the fame of Jesus" (Matt 14:1)". One
need only read Matt: 4:25 where it claims that "there followed him [Jesus] great
multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jersulaem, and
from Judaea, and from beyond Jordon." The gospels mention, countless times, the
great multitude that followed Jesus and crowds of people who congregated to hear
him. So crowded had some of these gatherings grown, that Luke 12:1 alleges that an
"innumberable multitude of people... trode one upon another." Luke 5:15 says that
there grew "a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear..."
The persecution of Jesus in Jerusalem drew so much attention that all the chief
priests and scribes, including the high priest Caiaphas, not only knew about him
but helped in his alleged crucifixion. (see Matt 21:15-23, 26:3, Luke 19:47,
23:13). The multitude of people thought of Jesus, not only as a teacher and a
miracle healer, but a prophet (see Matt:14:5). So here we have the gospels
portraying Jesus as famous far and wide, a prophet and healer, with great
multitudes of people who knew about him, including the greatest Jewish high
priests and the Roman authorities of the area, and not one person records his
existence during his lifetime? If the poor, the rich, the rulers, the highest
priests, and the scribes knew about Jesus, who would not have heard of him?
Then we have a particular astronomical event that would have attracted the
attention of anyone interested in the "heavens." According to Luke 23:44-45, there
occurred "about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until
the ninth hour, and the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in
the midst." Yet not a single mention of such a three hour ecliptic event got
recorded by anyone, including the astronomers and astrologers, anywhere in the
world. Nor does a single contemporary person write about the earthquake described
in Matthew 27:51-54 where the earth shook, rocks ripped apart (rent), and graves
opened.
Matthew 2 describes Herod and all of Jerusalem as troubled by the worship of the
infant Jesus. Herod then had all of the children of Bethlehem slain. If such
extraordinary infanticides of this magnitude had occurred, why didn't anyone write
about it?
Some apologists attempt to dig themselves out of this problem by claiming that
there lived no capable historians during that period, or due to the lack of
education of the people with a writing capacity, or even sillier, the scarcity of
paper gave reason why no one recorded their "savior." But the area in and
surrounding Jerusalem served, in fact, as the center of education and record
keeping for the Jewish people. The Romans, of course, also kept many records.
Moreover, the gospels mention scribes many times, not only as followers of Jesus
but the scribes connected with the high priests. And as for historians, there
lived plenty at the time who had the capacity and capability to record, not only
insignificant gossip, but significant events, especially from a religious sect who
drew so much popular attention through an allegedly famous and infamous Jesus.
Take, for example, the works of Philo Judaeus who's birth occurred in 20 B.C.E.
and died 50 C.E. He lived as the greatest Jewish-Hellenistic philosopher and
historian of the time and lived in the area of Jerusalem during the alleged life
of Jesus. He wrote detailed accounts of the Jewish events that occurred in the
surrounding area. Yet not once, in all of his volumes of writings, do we read a
single account of a Jesus "the Christ." Nor do we find any mention of Jesus in
Seneca's (4? B.C.E. - 65 C.E.) writings, nor from the historian Pliny the Elder
(23? - 79 C.E.).
If, indeed, such a well known Jesus existed, as the gospels allege, does any
reader here think it reasonable that, at the very least, the fame of Jesus would
not have reached the ears of one of these men? Amazingly, we have not one Jewish,
Greek, or Roman writer, even those who lived in the Middle East, much less
anywhere else on the earth, who ever mention him during his supposed life time.
This appears quite extraordinary, and you will find few Christian apologists who
dare mention this embarrassing fact.
To illustrate this extraordinary absence of Jesus Christ literature, just imagine
going through nineteenth century literature looking for an Abraham Lincoln but
unable to find a single mention of him in any writing on earth until the 20th
century. Yet straight-faced Christian apologists and historians want you to buy a
factual Jesus out of a dearth void of evidence, and rely on nothing but hearsay
written well after his purported life. Considering that most Christians believe
that Jesus lived as God on earth, the Almighty gives an embarrassing example for
explaining his existence. You'd think a Creator might at least have the ability to
bark up some good solid evidence.
HISTORICAL SCHOLARS
Many problems occur with the reliability of the accounts from ancient historians.
Most of them did not provide sources for their claims, as they rarely included
bibliographic listings, or supporting claims. They did not have access to modern
scholarly techniques, and many times would include hearsay as evidence. No one
today would take a modern scholar seriously who used the standards of ancient
historians, yet this proves as the only kind of source that Christology comes
from. Couple this with the fact that many historians believed as Christians
themselves, sometimes members of the Church, and you have a built-in prejudice
towards supporting a "real" Jesus.
In modern scholarship, even the best historians and Christian apologists play the
historian game. They can only use what documents they have available to them. If
they only have hearsay accounts then they have to play the cards that history
deals them. Many historians feel compelled to use interpolation or guesses from
hearsay, and yet this very dubious information sometimes ends up in encyclopedias
and history books as fact.
In other words, Biblical scholarship gets forced into a lower standard by the very
sources they examine. A renowned Biblical scholor illustrated this clearly in an
interview when asked about Biblical interpretation. David Noel Freeman (the
General editor of the Anchor Bible Series and many other works) responed with:
"We have to accept somewhat looser standards. In the legal profession, to convict
the defendant of a crime, you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil
cases, a preponderance of the evidence is sufficient. When dealing with the Bible
or any ancient source, we have to loosen up a little; otherwise, we can't really
say anything."
-David Noel Freedman (in Bible Review magazine, Dec. 1993, p.34)
The implications appear obvious. If one wishes to believe in a historical Jesus,
he or she must accept this based on loose standards. Couple this with the fact
that all of the claims come from hearsay, and we have a foundation made of sand,
and a castle of information built of cards.

CITING GEOGRAPHY, AND KNOWN HISTORICAL FIGURES AS "EVIDENCE"


Although the New Testament mentions various cities, geological sites, kings and
people that existed or lived during the alleged life of Jesus, these descriptions
cannot serve as evidence for the existence of Jesus anymore than works of fiction
that include recognizable locations, and make mention of actual people.
Homer's Odyssey, for example, describes the travels of Odysseus throughout the
Greek islands. The epic describes, in detail, many locations that existed in
history. But should we take Odysseus, the Greek gods and goddesses, one-eyed
giants and monsters as literal fact simply because the story depicts geographic
locations accurately? Of course not. Mythical stories, fictions, and narratives
almost always use familiar landmarks as placements for their stories. The authors
of the Greek tragedies not only put their stories in plausible settings as
happening in the real world but their supernatural characters took on the desires,
flaws and failures of mortal human beings. Consider that fictions such as King
Kong, Superman, and Star Trek include recognizable cities, planets, and landmarks,
with their protagonists and antagonists miming human emotions.
Likewise, just because the Gospels mention cities and locations in Judea, and
known historical people, with Jesus behaving like an actual human being (with the
added dimension of supernatural curses, miracles, etc.) but this says nothing
about the actuality of the characters portrayed in the stories. However, when a
story uses impossible historical locations, or geographical errors, we may
question the authority of the claims.
For example, in Matt 4:8, the author describes the devil taking Jesus into an
exceedingly high mountain to show him all the kingdoms of the world. Since there
exists no spot on the spheroid earth to view "all the kingdoms," we know that the
Bible errs here.
John 12:21 says, "The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of
Galilee. . . ." Bethsaida resided in Gaulonitis (Golan region), east of the Jordan
river, not Galilee, which resided west of the river.
John 3:23 says, "John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim. . . ." Critics agree
that no such place as Aenon exists near Salim.
There occurs not a shred of evidence for a city named Nazareth at the time of the
alleged Jesus. [Leedom; Gauvin] Nazareth does not appear in the Old Testament, nor
does it appear in the volumes of Josephus's writings (even though he provides a
detailed list of the cities of Galilee). Oddly, none of the New Testament epistle
writers ever mentions Nazareth or a Jesus of Nazareth even though most of the
epistles got written before the gospels. In fact no one mentions Nazareth until
the Gospels, where the first one got written at least 40 years after the
hypothetical death of Jesus. Apologists attempt to dismiss this by claiming that
Nazareth existed as an insignificant and easily missed village (how would they
know?), thus no one recorded it. However, whenever the Gospels speak of Nazareth,
they always refer to it as a city, never a village, and a historian of that period
would surely have noticed a city. (Note the New Testament uses the terms village,
town, and city.) Nor can apologists fall on archeological evidence of preexisting
artifacts for the simple reason that many cities get built on ancient sites. If a
city named Nazareth existed during the 1st century, then we need at least one
contemporary piece of evidence for the name, otherwise we cannot refer to it as
historical.
Many more errors and unsupported geographical locations appear in the New
Testament. And although one cannot use these as evidence against a historical
Jesus, we can certainly question the reliability of the texts. If the scriptures
make so many factual errors about geology, science, and contain so many
contradictions, falsehoods could occur any in area.
If we have a coupling with historical people and locations, then we should also
have some historical reference of a Jesus to these locations and people. But just
the opposite proves the case. The Bible depicts Herod, the Ruler of Jewish
Palestine under Rome as sending out men to search and kill the infant Jesus, yet
nothing in history supports such a story. Pontius Pilate supposedly performed as
judge in the trial and execution of Jesus, yet no Roman record mentions such a
trial. The gospels portray a multitude of believers throughout the land spreading
tales of a teacher, prophet, and healer, yet nobody in Jesus' life time or several
decades after, ever records such a human figure. The lack of a historical Jesus in
the known historical record speaks for itself.
COMPARING JESUS TO OTHER HISTORICAL FIGURES
Many Christian apologists attempt to extricate themselves from their lack of
evidence by claiming that if we cannot rely on the post chronicle exegesis of
Jesus, then we cannot establish a historical foundation for other figures such as
Alexander the Great, Augustus Caesar, Napoleon, etc. However, there sits a vast
difference between historical figures and Jesus. There occurs either artifacts,
writings, or eyewitness accounts for historical people, whereas, for Jesus we have
nothing.
Alexander, for example, left a wake of destroyed and created cities behind. We
have buildings, libraries and cities, such as Alexandria, left in his name. We
have treaties, and even a letter from Alexander to the people of Chios, engraved
in stone, dated at 332 B.C.E. For Agustus Caesar, we have the Res gestae divi
augusti, the emperor's own account of his works and deeds, a letter to his son
(Epistula ad Gaium filium), Virgil's eyewitness accounts, and much more. Napoleon
left behind artifacts, eyewitness accounts and letters. We can establish some
historicity to these people because we have evidence that occurred during their
life times. Yet even with contemporary evidence, historians have become wary of
after-the-fact stories of many of these historical people. For example, some of
the stories of Alexander's conquests, or Nero starting the fire in Rome always get
questioned or doubted because they contain inconsistencies or come from authors
who wrote years after the alleged facts. In qualifying the history of Alexander,
Pierre Briant writes, "Although more than twenty of his contemporaries chronicled
Alexander's life and campaigns, none of these texts survive in original form. Many
letters and speeches attributed to Alexander are ancient forgeries or
reconstructions inspired by imagination or political motives. The little solid
documentation we possess from Alexander's own time is mainly to be found in stone
inscriptions from the Greek cities of Europe and Asia." [Briant]
Inventing histories out of whole cloth or embellished from a seed of an actual
historical event appears common throughout the chronicle of human thought. Robert
Price observes, "Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus, Cyrus, King Arthur, and
others have nearly suffered this fate. What keeps historians from dismissing them
as mere myths, like Paul Bunyan, is that there is some residue. We know at least a
bit of mundane information about them, perhaps quite a bit, that does not form
part of any legend cycle." [Price, p. 260-261]
Interestingly, almost all important historical people have descriptions of what
they looked like. We have the image of Augustus Caesar cast on denarius coins,
busts of Greek and Roman aristocrats, artwork of Napoleon, etc. We have
descriptions of facial qualities, height, weight, hair length & color, age and
even portraits of most important historical figures. But for Jesus, we have
nothing. Nowhere in the Bible do we have a description of the human shape of
Jesus. How can we rely on the Gospels as the word of Jesus when no one even
describes what he looked like? How odd that none of the disciple characters record
what he looked like, yet believers attribute them to know exactly what he said.
Indeed, this gives us a clue that Jesus came to the gospel writers and indirect
and through myth. Not until hundreds of years after the alleged Jesus did pictures
emerge as to what he looked like from cult Christians, and these widely differed
from a blond clean shaven, curly haired Apollonian youth (found in the Roman
catacombs) to a long-bearded Italian as depicted to this day. This mimics the
pattern of Greek mythological figures as their believers constructed various
images of what their gods looked like according to their own cultural image.
Historial people leave us with contemporary evidence, but for Jesus we have
nothing. If we wanted to present a fair comparison of the type of information
about Jesus to another example of equal historical value, we could do no better
than to compare Jesus with the mythical figure of Hercules.
IF JESUS, THEN WHY NOT HERCULES?
If a person accepts hearsay and accounts from believers as historical evidence for
Jesus, then shouldn't they act consistently to other accounts based solely on
hearsay and belief?
To take one example, examine the evidence for the Hercules of Greek mythology and
you will find it parallels the "historicity" of Jesus to such an amazing degree
that for Christian apologists to deny Hercules as a historical person belies and
contradicts the very same methodology used for a historical Jesus.
Note that Herculean myth resembles Jesus in many areas. Hercules got born as a
human from the union of God (Zeus) and the mortal and chaste Alcmene, his mother.
Similar to Herod who wanted to kill Jesus, Hera wanted to kill Hercules. Like
Jesus, Hercules traveled the earth as a mortal helping mankind and performed
miraculous deeds. Like Jesus who died and rose to heaven, Hercules died, rose to
Mt. Olympus and became a god. Hercules gives example of perhaps the most popular
hero in Ancient Greece and Rome. They believed that he actually lived, told
stories about him, worshiped him, and dedicated temples to him.
Likewise the "evidence" of Hercules closely parallels that of Jesus. We have
historical people like Hesiod and Plato who mentions Hercules. Similar to the way
the gospels tell a narrative story of Jesus, so do we have the epic stories of
Homer who depict the life of Hercules. Aesop tells stories and quotes the words of
Hercules. Just as we have a brief mention of Jesus by Joesphus in his Antiquities,
Joesphus also mentions Hercules (more times than Jesus), in the very same work
(see: 1.15; 8.5.3; 10.11.1). Just as Tacitus mentions a Christus, so does he also
mention Hercules many times in his Annals. And most importantly, just as we have
no artifacts, writings or eyewitnesses about Hercules, we also have nothing about
Jesus. All information about Hercules and Jesus comes from stories, beliefs, and
hearsay. Should we then believe in a historical Hercules, simply because ancient
historians mention him and that we have stories and beliefs about him? Of course
not, and the same must apply to Jesus if we wish to hold any consistency to
historicity.
Some critics doubt that a historicized Jesus could develop from myth because they
think there never occurred any precedence for it. We have many examples of myth
from history but what about the other way around? This doubt fails in the light of
the most obvious example-- the Greek mythologies where Greek and Roman writers
including Diodorus, Cicero, Livy, etc., assumed that there must have existed a
historical root for figures such as Hercules, Theseus, Odysseus, Minos, Dionysus,
etc. These writers put their mythological heroes into an invented historical time
chart. Herodotus, for example, tried to determine when Hercules lived. As Robert
M. Price revealed, "The whole approach earned the name of Euhemerism, from
Euhemerus who originated it." [Price, p. 250] Even today, we see many examples of
seedling historicized mythologies: UFO adherents who's beliefs began as a dream of
alien bodily invasion, and then expressed as actually having occurred (some of
which have formed religious cults); beliefs of urban legends which started as pure
fiction or hoaxes; propaganda spread by politicians which stem from fiction but
believed by their constituents.
People consider Hercules and other Greek gods as myth because people no longer
believe in the Greek and Roman stories. When a civilization dies, so go their
gods. Christianity and its church authorities, on the other hand, still hold a
powerful influence on governments, institutions, and colleges. Anyone doing
research on Jesus, even skeptics, had better allude to his existence or else risk
future funding and damage to their reputations or fear embarrassment against their
Christian friends. Christianity depends on establishing a historical Jesus and it
will defend, at all costs, even the most unreliable sources. The faithful want to
believe in Jesus, and belief alone can create intellectual barriers that leak even
into atheist and secular thought. We have so many Christian professors,
theologians and historical "experts" around the world that tell us we should
accept a historical Jesus that if repeated often enough, it tends to convince even
the most ardent skeptic. The establishment of history should never reside with the
"experts" words alone or simply because a scholar has a reputation as a historian.
Historical review has yet to achieve the reliability of scientific investigation,
(and in fact, many times ignores it). If a scholar makes a historical claim, his
assertion should depend primarily with the evidence itself and not just because he
or she says so. Facts do not require belief. And whereas beliefs can live
comfortably without evidence at all, facts depend on evidence.

THEN WHY THE MYTH OF JESUS?


Some people actually believe that just because so much voice and ink has spread
the word of a character named Jesus throughout history, that this must mean that
he actually lived. This argument simply does not hold. The number of people who
believe or write about something or the professional degrees they hold say nothing
at all about fact. Facts derive out of evidence, not from hearsay, not from hubris
scholars, and certainly not from faithful believers. Regardless of the position or
admiration held by a scholar, believer, or priest, if he or she cannot support
their hypothesis with good evidence, then it can only remain a hypothesis.
While the possibility exists that an actual Jesus lived, a more likely possibility
reveals that a mythology could have arrived totally out of earlier mythologies.
Although we have no evidence for a historical Jesus, we certainly have many
accounts for the mythologies of the Middle East and Egypt during the first century
and before that appear similar to the Christ saviour story.
If you know your ancient history, remember that just before and during the first
century, the Jews had prophesied about an upcoming Messiah based on Jewish
scripture. Their beliefs influenced many of their followers. We know that powerful
beliefs can create self-fulfilling prophesies, and surely this proved just as true
in ancient times. It served as a popular dream expressed in Hebrew Scripture for
the promise of an "end-time" with a savior to lead them to the promised land.
Indeed, Roman records show executions of several would-be Messiahs, (but not a
single record mentions a Jesus). Many ancients believed that there could come a
final war against the "Sons of Darkness"-- the Romans.
This then could very well have served as the ignition and flame for the future
growth of Christianity. We know that the early Christians lived within pagan
communities. Jewish scriptural beliefs coupled with the pagan myths of the time
give sufficient information about how such a religion could have formed. Many of
the Hellenistic and pagan myths parallel so closely to the alleged Jesus that to
ignore its similarities means to ignore the mythological beliefs of history.
Dozens of similar savior stories propagated the minds of humans long before the
alleged life of Jesus. Virtually nothing about Jesus "the Christ" came to the
Christians as original or new.
For example, the religion of Zoroaster, founded circa 628-551 B.C.E. in ancient
Persia, roused mankind in the need for hating a devil, the belief of a paradise,
last judgment and resurrection of the dead. Mithraism, an offshoot of
Zoroastrianism probably influenced early Christianity. The Magi described in the
New Testament appears as Zoroastrian priests. Note the word "paradise" came from
the Persian pairidaeza.
The Egyptian mythical Horus, god of light and goodness has many parallels to
Jesus. For some examples:
Horus and the Father as one
Horus, the Father seen in the Son
Horus, light of the world, represented by the symbolical eye, the sign of
salvation.
Horus served the way, the truth, the life by name and in person
Horus baptized with water by Anup (Jesus baptized with water by John)
Horus the Good Shepherd
Horus as the Lamb (Jesus as the Lamb)
Horus as the Lion (Jesus as the Lion)
Horus identified with the Tat Cross (Jesus with the cross)
The trinity of Atum the Father, Horus the Son, Ra the Holy Spirit
Horus the avenger (Jesus who brings the sword)
Horus the afflicted one
Horus as life eternal
Twelve followers of Horus as Har-Khutti (Jesus' 12 disciples)

According to Massey, "The mythical Messiah is Horus in the Osirian Mythos; Har-
Khuti in the Sut-Typhonian; Khunsu in that of Amen-Ra; Iu in the cult of Atum-Ra;
and the Christ of the Gospels is an amalgam of all these characters."
Osiris, Hercules, Mithra, Hermes, Prometheus, Perseus and others compare to the
Christian myth. According to Patrick Campbell of The Mythical Jesus, all served as
pre-Christian sun gods, yet all allegedly had gods for fathers, virgins for
mothers; had their births announced by stars; got born on the solstice around
December 25th; had tyrants who tried to kill them in their infancy; met violent
deaths; rose from the dead; and nearly all got worshiped by "wise men" and had
allegedly fasted for forty days. [McKinsey, Chapter 5]
The pre-Christian cult of Mithra had a deity of light and truth, son of the Most
High, fought against evil, presented the idea of the Logos. Pagan Mithraism
mysteries had the burial in a rock tomb, resurrection, sacrament of bread & water
(Eucharist), the marking on the forehead with a mystic mark, the symbol of the
Rock, the Seven Spirits and seven stars, all before the advent of Christianity.
Even Justin Martyr recognized the analogies between Christianity and Paganism. To
the Pagans, he wrote: "When we say that the Word, who is first born of God, was
produced without sexual union, and that he, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was
crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven; we propound nothing
different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter
(Zeus)." [First Apology, ch. xxi]
Virtually all of the mythical accounts of a savior Jesus have parallels to past
pagan mythologies which existed long before Christianity and from the Jewish
scriptures that we now call the Old Testament. The accounts of these myths say
nothing about historical reality, but they do say a lot about believers, how they
believed, and how their beliefs spread.

The concept of Jesus sprang from non-historical spiritual beliefs of a Christ


derived from Jewish scripture and Hellenized myths of savior gods. Nowhere do any
of the New Testament epistle writers describe a human Jesus, including Paul. None
of the epistles mention a Jesus from Nazareth, an earthly teacher, or as a human
miracle worker. Nowhere do we find these writers quoting Jesus. Nowhere do we find
them describing any details of Jesus' life on earth or his followers. Nowhere do
we find the epistle writers even using the word "disciple" (they of course use the
term "apostle" but the word simply means messenger, as Paul saw himself). Except
for two well known interpolations, Jesus always gets presented as a spiritual
being that existed before all time with God, and that knowledge of Christ came
directly from God or as a revelation from the word of scripture. Doherty writes,
"Christian documents outside the Gospels, even at the end of the first century and
beyond, show no evidence that any tradition about an earthly life and ministry of
Jesus were in circulation."
These early historical documents can prove nothing about an actual Jesus but they
do show an evolution of belief derived from varied and diverse concepts of
Christianity, starting from a purely spiritual form of Christ to a human figure
who embodied that spirit, as portrayed in the Gospels. The New Testament stories
appears as an eclectic hodgepodge of Jewish, Hellenized and pagan stories compiled
by pietistic believers to appeal to an audience for their particular religious
times.
A NOTE ABOUT DATING:
The A.D. (Anno Domini, or "year of our Lord") dating method got invented by a monk
named Dionysius Exiguus in the sixth-century. Oddly, some people seem to think
this has relevance to a historical Jesus. But of course it has nothing at all to
do with it. In the time before the 6th century, people used various other dating
methods. The Romans used A.U.C. (ab urbe condita, or "from the foundation of the
city," that being Rome). The Jews had their own dating system. Dionysisus simply
decided to reset time on January 1, 754 A.U.C. to January 1, of year one A.D., to
fit his beliefs about the birth of Jesus. He conjectured his information from the
Bible (which he got wrong). [Gould, 1995]
Instead of B.C. and A.D., the convention of B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and
C.E. (Common Era) is often used in scholarly literature. They correspond to the
same dates as B.C. & A.D., but without alluding to the birth or death of an
alleged Christ.
QUOTES FROM A FEW SCHOLARS:
Although apologist scholars believe that an actual Jesus lived on earth, the
reasons for this appear obvious considering their Christian beliefs. Although some
secular freethinkers and atheists accept a historical Jesus (minus the miracles),
they, like most Chrisitans, simply accept the traditional view without question.
As time goes on, more and more scholars have begun to open the way to a more
honest look at the evidence, or at the lack of evidence. So for those who wish to
rely on scholarly opinion, see the few quotes from Biblical scholars, past and
present:
When the Church mythologists established their system, they collected all the
writings they could find and managed them as they pleased. It is a matter
altogether of uncertainty to us whether such of the writings as now appear under
the name of the Old and New Testaments are in the same state in which those
collectors say they found them, or whether they added, altered, abridged or
dressed them up. -Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason)

The world has been for a long time engaged in writing lives of Jesus... The
library of such books has grown since then. But when we come to examine them, one
startling fact confronts us: all of these books relate to a personage concerning
whom there does not exist a single scrap of contemporary information -- not one!
By accepted tradition he was born in the reign of Augustus, the great literary age
of the nation of which he was a subject. In the Augustan age historians
flourished; poets, orators, critics and travelers abounded. Yet not one mentions
the name of Jesus Christ, much less any incident in his life. -Moncure D. Conway
[1832 - 1907] (Modern Thought)

It is only in comparatively modern times that the possibility was considered that
Jesus does not belong to history at all.-J.M. Robertson (Pagan Christs)
We know virtually nothing about the persons who wrote the gospels we call Matthew,
Mark, Luke, and John. The gospels are so anonymous that their titles, all second-
century guesses, are all four wrong. Mark himself clearly did not know any
eyewitnesses of Jesus. All four gospels are anonymous texts. The familiar
attributions of the Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John come from the mid-
second century and later and we have no good historical reason to accept these
attributions. Many modern Biblical archaeologists now believe that the village of
Nazareth did not exist at the time of the birth and early life of Jesus. There is
simply no evidence for it. It was not until the third century that Jesus' cross of
execution became a common symbol of the Christian faith. A generation after Jesus'
death, when the Gospels were written, the Romans had destroyed the Jerusalem
Temple (in 70 C.E.); the most influential centers of Christianity were cities of
the Mediterranean world such as Alexandria, Antioch, Corinth, Damascus, Ephesus
and Rome. Although large number of Jews were also followers of Jesus, non-Jews
came to predominate in the early Church. They controlled how the Gospels were
written after 70 C.E. Other scholars have concluded that the Bible is the product
of a purely human endeavor, that the identity of the authors is forever lost and
that their work has been largely obliterated by centuries of translation and
editing.
Yet today, there are few Biblical scholars-- from liberal skeptics to conservative
evangelicals- who believe that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John actually wrote the
Gospels. Nowhere do the writers of the texts identify themselves by name or claim
unambiguously to have known or traveled with Jesus.
The tradition attributing the fourth Gospel to the Apostle John, the son of
Zebedee, is first noted by Irenaeus in A.D. 180. It is a tradition based largely
on what some view as the writer's reference to himself as "the beloved disciple"
and "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Current objection to John's authorship are
based largely on modern textural analyses that strongly suggest the fourth Gospel
was the work of several hands, probably followers of an elderly teacher in Asia
Minor named John who claimed as a young man to have been a disciple of Jesus.
It is important to recognize the obvious: The gospel story of Jesus is itself
apparently mythic from first to last." Belief cannot produce historical facts.
Many eyewitness accounts of alien extraterrestrials and their space craft not only
assert eyewitnesses but present blurry photos to boot! We do have an abundance of
evidence supporting the mythical evolution of Jesus. Virtually every detail in the
gospel stories occurred in pagan and/or Hebrew stories, long before the advent of
Christianity. We simply do not have a shred of evidence to determine the
historicity of a Jesus "the Christ." Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition
of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one
to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real
live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it.
Did a historical Muhammad exist?
Muhammad is widely believed to have been born in 570 C.E. in Mecca. The earliest
accounts we have of him date to 750 C.E. with the book Life by Ibn Ishaq, more
than one hundred years after Muhammad's death. Although this is the first and most
basic source for information about the life of Muhammad for all Muslims, it does
not present a very flattering portrait of him. Even then, we don't have any
original copies of Ibn Ishaq's work - we only have a later recension by Ibn Hisham
(a recension is a critical revision of a text which incorporates plausible
elements which can be found in varying sources). Because Hisham died in 834 C.E.,
that means that our earliest sources appear two hundred years after Muhammad died.
Not even the evidence we have from the Sufyandi period, 661-684, makes any mention
of Muhammad. Surviving papyri of that era say nothing, and the coins invoke only
Allah, not his Prophet. As late as the second century of the Muslim era, scholarly
opinion on Muhammad's birth date differed by as much as 85 years, demonstrating
that even at that point there was a great deal of variation in what people knew
about Muhammad. The focus on Mecca is also questionable. Muslim tradition teaches
that Mecca was an important crossroads for trade caravans, but the location of
Mecca today is not a natural stopping place for the incense route from south
Arabia to Syria. Contemporary non-Muslims sources also don't make any mention of
such a city, which is very strange if Mecca was indeed important for commerce and
religion. By and large, it appears that the Muslim belief that we have accurate
eyewitness reports for every aspect of Muhammad's life is not unlike similar
beliefs among Christians regarding Jesus and Orthodox Jews regarding Moses. The
motivation lies more in a need to believe than in a sound foundation based on
confirmed historical evidence. Given that, the following description of Muhammad's
life is based almost entirely upon the traditional beliefs of adherents and not
upon historically confirmable fact.
By the time of Ibn Hisham's writings, Islam had entered into extended contact with
Christianity, and Muhammad's biography was deliberately constructed in an effort
to offer a contrast to the gospel stories of Jesus. Indeed, for the first two
hundred years of Islam, the Arab conquerors were a minority ruling a non-Muslim
majority. Some scholarship estimates that by the middle of the eighth century,
Muslims constituted only eight percent of the subject populations, vastly
outnumbered by Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and others. The accounts suggest
that Muhammad was in charge of trade business of a rich widow fifteen years his
senior and he married her. In the year 610 C.E., at about the age of forty,
Muhammad experienced in a dream or dream-like state received instruction from God
on what he must believe and what he must do. These instructions were not a one-
time event, however, and lasted throughout his life. The first instruction was
that there existed only one god, and that strict monotheistic belief was required
of all people. The second involved socioeconomic justice for all, and the third
involved the existence of a final judgment for both the just and the unjust.
Muhammad's preaching of his new revelations was not especially welcome among his
fellow citizens of Mecca. After thirteen years of preaching, the small band of
followers he gathered was simply not powerful enough to take control of the city
of Mecca. Nevertheless, even if his standing among the city's leaders was not
especially good, he must have had a good enough reputation for the city of Medina
(located 200 miles north) to approach him and offer him the position of ruler
there. He thus moved his group to Medina in 622, an event which is called the
hijra and marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. In Medina he established a
charter which guaranteed freedom of religion for the local Jews - but evidently he
expected them to quickly convert to Islam once they heard what it had to offer,
and he was disappointed when they didn't. It is at this point where we have the
only really secure date for early Muslim history, 622 C.E., which has been
confirmed on coins as a the beginning of a new era. What exactly this new era
meant is unclear, and there is no indication that it is the hijra of tradition.
The only information that we have about it is from documents 676 and 680 C.E., two
Nestorian documents which refer to 622 as the year of "the rule of the Arabs." At
this time, then, Muhammad changed the nature of the salat, the daily prayers which
each Muslim must recite. Previously all Muslims had faced Jerusalem when saying
the prayers, but now they all faced Mecca. This was surely connected to his
isappointment with the Jews. There are normally three reasons offered for
Muhammad's interest in taking Mecca. The first was that it was supposed to be an
important religious center for Arabs at the time - for his new religion to become
widespread, he needed that city. Second, it was supposed to be the seat of
Muhammad's own tribe, the Quraysh. If they could be won over, he could use them
and their allies to further spread his message. The third was that the Meccans
simply didn't like him very much and continued to harass him and Medina in an
effort to repress his efforts. The property and possessions of all of those who
left with him had been seized, and a genuine state of war existed between Mecca
and Medina. Various skirmishes eventually lead to a major battle at Badr, where
300 Medinians are supposed to have defeated one thousand Meccans. Because of this,
Muhammad was able to sign a treaty with several Bedouin tribes and gain their aid;
but he lost it again after a defeat to the Meccans the next year. During all of
this, Muhammad accused local Jewish tribes of conspiring to aid Mecca. After Badr,
the Medinese Jews were attacked and forced to emigrate to Syria. After the defeat
at Uhud, the Nadir tribe of Jews received the same fate. Two years later, after a
failed Meccan siege of Medina was over, the Qurayza tribe of Jews was attacked and
all the men were killed. Eventually, eight years after the hijra, Mecca was forced
to negotiate a peaceful surrender to Muhammad and almost all citizens became
Muslims. Thereafter Mecca would remain a center of devotion for Muslims all over
the world. During the next two years, Islam swept across Arabia with most cities
voluntarily joining, but a few remained stubborn and had to be brought in by
force. On June 8, 632 (eleven years after the hijra), Muhammad died.