The Jesus Myth

One of my interests is the claim that Jesus was not a historical figure but rather just another myth.  Despite my interest, I must confess a certain level of frustration.  In many ways it is a silly argument.  We deal with this in a number of ways in our book, Unmasking the Pagan Christ.

However, there is something that we did not deal with extensively in our book.  One of the problems with the Jesus myth hypothesis is that there is nothing else like it.  When you look either to Jewish writings or pagan myths, you can not find anything like the New Testament Gospels.  The pagan myths such as Osiris/Horus, Baal, Dionysus, etc. all take place in the a-historical past, that is they disconnected with the events of history.  They do this because they are meant to be read as the story of every-person everywhere at everytime.  Their universal appeal is that they are not embedded into a historical or in some cases a cultural context.  The writing down of these events are not contemporary with what they describe but rather a telling of something from the primordial past.

The Jewish writings are a bit different.  Some, such as 1 Enoch, are not interested in history (they overview history but do not have particular historical context for the book) but have more of a cosmic view.  There are works of historical fiction such as Tobit and Judith that do have a historical context, but they are full of anachronisms and the history is included simply to provide a literary setting, such as a western or a world war two epic in modern terms.  Not only that, the books of the Apocrypha were written hundreds of years after their historical setting.

I have not found anything like the Gospels in either Jewish or Pagan fiction.  The Gospels are full of references to and interactions with historical figures: Herod the Great and his sons, Augustus, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, etc.  The Gospels do not ignore or reject history but are in an ongoing dance with it.  The message of the Gospels is that Jesus entered into history.  Is this just a literary setting as with other Jewish works of pious fiction?  Not at all, as the Gospels were written within a generation of the events described, unlike any of the supposed mythic parallels.  The Gospel events were so rooted into reality, Paul was able to challenge people to confirm the story with the eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

There are some people who have been convinced that the Gospels are another example of non-historical mythology.  If that is the case, I would love to see even one example of myth so embedded into history and being written within a generation of the events described.  At this point, I have seen nothing.

For more information, see my Jesus Myth Theory page.

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