Jesus as a Myth

For popular historians, Jesus as a myth is not taken very seriously. We have more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ then almost any other historical figure from the time period. It is important to note that the arguments I am presenting in no way, shape or form reflect my opinion on this subject.

When I talk about Jesus as a myth, I simply mean that Jesus never existed. Even if He did exist, it would have no effect on the validity of Christianity. It is what Jesus did during his life, and the historical resurrection that is important. But we will not be discussing that here.

People try to dispute the existence of Jesus by arguing two things: the reliability of the gospels, and the reliability of non-Christian sources. The most popular way to dispute these is to use the word ‘hearsay’. Hearsay attempts to show that all sources pointing to the existence of Jesus are unreliable.

If you do not understand this, imagine yourself confronted with a charge for a crime which you know you did not commit. You feel confident that no one can prove guilt because you know that there exists no evidence whatsoever for the charge against you. Now imagine that you stand present in a court of law that allows hearsay as evidence. When the prosecution presents its case, everyone who takes the stand against you claims that you committed the crime, not as a witness themselves, but solely because they claim other people said so. None of these other people, mind you, ever show up in court, nor can anyone find them.[1]

Jesus mythicists primarily use this to attack the gospels. Like the writings of Paul, James, John, and Peter. They conclude that since none of them ever mention seeing an ‘earthly’ Jesus, their evidence can only count as hearsay. They also use it against Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and others. It is true that no historian recorded Jesus while he was alive, and all non-Christian sources were born after His alleged death.
———

[1] – I would like to thank this source for the example of hearsay. It is also a great article if you are interested in further reading.

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25 Responses to Jesus as a Myth

  1. Gil S. says:

    For this to work, it would have to show how the gospels are not valid eyewitness accounts. You have all the disciples who verified the validity of Jesus’s existence, I hardly think that counts as hearsay. To get around this would require a lot of wishful thinking and special pleading, I would think. If Jesus did not exist, it becomes a exceedingly difficult to explain how Christianity would have survived if none of what they described ever happened. The enemies of the apostles would have denied that He existed but the fact that we have no records of this ever happening (quite the opposite, actually) then it lends truth to the belief that a person like Jesus existed. Like Paul said, if Jesus did not resurrect from the dead, their faith is useless. If Christianity wanted to succeed, it would have made a claim that is unverifiable by the people of that time.

  2. I agree with you, Gil. A lot of the arguments against the existence of Jesus have to do with clinging to strawmen, something I did not want to be guilty of. But I thought I may as well present him as a myth, and the arguments involved in a blog post to get it out of the way.

  3. Also, I am new to blogging. And I can’t seem to change the font back to its original. After I copied that quote, it changed and I couldn’t figure out how to keep the original font.

  4. David E says:


    We have more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ then almost any other historical figure from the time period.

    You don’t improve your case by so blatantly overstating it. Even a cursory perusal of an encyclopedia will indicate to anyone who bothers to check up on it that this claim is ridiculous.

  5. David E says:

    There is not one scrap of historical evidence contemporary to the life of Jesus concerning. He wrote nothing and nothing was written about him until decades after his death. No inscriptions or physical evidence from during his life exists (unlike, for example, Pontius Pilate). We have no physical descriptions of Jesus (rare for major historical figures). The historical evidence for Jesus is, in fact, probably among the worst for significant historical figures from his time period (or even long before).

    In fact, I can think of no example of a major historical figure about whom most historians are agreed he existed who have less evidence in their favor than Jesus. Can you? I’d like to know of an example.

    • As far as history is concerned, decades after is actually pretty accurate. And as I stated before, many of the Earths most credible historians of that time period recorded His existence.

  6. David E says:

    To be clear, I’m not a mythicist and not denying that a Jesus probably existed. I’m simply criticizing a drastic overstatement regarding the historical evidence for that position.

  7. David E says:

    Sure thing. Josephus Flavius, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Suetonius, Talmud. These are some of the most credible historians of the time period.

    None of these people ever said we have “more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ then almost any other historical figure from the time period”—and that is, after all, what I asked about. Not just historians who believe or believed in the existence of Jesus (that’s not in dispute—I agree he probably existed and that most historians think so).

    And I was primarily talking about modern historians. History as an intellectual discipline has come a long way since the 1st century.

    As far as history is concerned, decades after is actually pretty accurate.

    Whether it’s “pretty accurate” is not the issue under discussion. It is, again, whether we have “more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ then almost any other historical figure from the time period.” Those are your words. You should not have such difficulty remembering that this was the point in dispute.

    • Hmm, Bart Ehrman is a notable one. As well as most graduates. Wells has even admitted he was wrong in doubting Jesus’s existence.

      • David E says:


        Hmm, Bart Ehrman is a notable one. As well as most graduates. Wells has even admitted he was wrong in doubting Jesus’s existence.

        Sigh. What does someone admitting he was wrong in doubting Jesus’s existence have to do with this discussion?

        Again the topic in dispute is NOT:

        –do most historians believe Jesus was a real historical person.

        It is:

        –Is it true that “we have more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ then almost any other historical figure from the time period” and is this something believed by modern historians?

        Regarding Ehrman, are you saying he believes in a historical Jesus or are you saying that he has endorsed the idea that “we have more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ then almost any other historical figure from the time period.” Those are two VERY different things.

        If you’re saying the former, it is, again, totally irrelevant (I’m well aware that he believes in a historical Jesus—but that’s isn’t the issue in dispute). If the latter, where has he said this?

  8. I would say the latter, and sure thing: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=8013#comments.

    Watch the videos to find out.

  9. David E says:

    I listened. What he says, specifically, is that ““we have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period.”

    And when he says it he’s talking about the totality of human beings living at that time period. And, of course, that’s something I completely agree with. It’s obviously true. The vast majority of human beings from that far back have not left a single trace in the historical record. So, obviously, anyone who’s mentioned at all in historical records has more historical evidence of their existence than about 99.9999% or so of the people living at the same time.

    And, yet again, I have to point out that this isn’t what’s in dispute. What’s in dispute is the claim that we have more evidence for Jesus than for any other HISTORICAL FIGURE from the time period. A historical figure being, at a bare minimum, someone spoken of in the histories about that time period.

    Nice try, though. And I can see how you made that error. But you still have not a single example of a credible modern historian who is not also a religious apologist backing your claim that “we have more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ then almost any other historical figure from the time period.”

    • What? That doesn’t even make sense. When he states “we have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period”, it means ANYONE from the time period. That includes historical figures. You are simply making assumptions.

      Just face defeat, and concede.

  10. David E says:


    What? That doesn’t even make sense. When he states “we have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period”, it means ANYONE from the time period.

    “Almost anybody from the time period” does not mean the same as “anybody from the time period”. Do you really not understand that something so obvious? It’s basic reading comprehension.

    If he had said:

    We have more evidence for Jesus than we have for anybody from his time period.

    This would, obviously, include other historical figures (people recorded by historians).

    But what he said was:

    We have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period.

    Having more historical evidence than almost anyone from that time period is something that can be said of EVERY historical figure mentioned in histories about the time period. The number of people mentioned in histories is a tiny fraction of a percent of all the people alive at the time. 0.000001% or less of human beings alive at the time.

    Did you even listen to the audio? It was plain from the context that he wasn’t making a claim about having more historical evidence for Jesus than for other historical figures from the time—only more than the VAST majority of people from the time. Again, something true of all historical figures talked about by histories of that period—so, obviously, it’s not something that implies more evidence for one particular historical figure than others.

  11. David E says:

    And, while we’re debating Ehrman’s comment, keep in mind that you said:

    I would hardly call this claim ridiculous. If you ask nearly any credible historian, they would agree.

    Finding one comment by one historian (even if I didn’t find your interpretation of his comment debatable) does not even come close to validating the above claim. If the above is true you should be able to come up with quotes from LOTS of historians making this sort of claim. Especially considering the fact that this claim is made by so many religious apologists—surely if it was true you could simply go to an article or paper or book by one of the apologists making this claim and find a boatload of references in short order. Assuming, that is, that the apologists aren’t just pulling this claim out of….thin air (not quite the phrase that first came to mind but I’m trying to keep it clean).

    • Even if a Christian apologist makes this claim, they aren’t saying it because they are Christian. They’re saying it because of the basis of evidence.

      I will concede for now, as I need to start writing blog posts. I will take your thoughts into consideration into future posts(which I will be addressing). Email me if you have anymore thoughts.

  12. David E says:

    Aren’t, I meant to say in that last sentence.

  13. Sara Smith says:

    It is rather interesting for me to read that blog. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more soon. BTW, pretty nice design your blog has, but what do you think about changing it once in a few months?

    Sara Smith

    • Please do not blatantly advertise ‘escort’ sites on this blog… Not really appropriate for the content of this blog.

      I actually do plan to write more about the Historical Jesus now that I’m back in school. And maybe I will change the design soon. Any suggestions?

  14. 蛙鏡 says:

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  15. 監視器 says:

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