Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why I Am Not a Mythicist, Part I

The Internet has fostered an entirely new and novel ecosystem of thought contagions. It seems that, freed of the interference of the gatekeeping power of the mainstream media, ideas that once seemed beyond the pale can bite down and take a big chunk out of the culture.

Mythicism or Jesus Mythicism, which argues that Jesus never actually existed (or at best was a largely-legendary figure like Homer) is one of those ideas. It was a fringe concept (some might argue it still is) that was taken up by Internet researchers very early on and has made major inroads in this era of "Nones." For instance:

A survey by the Church of England suggests that forty percent of people in England do not believe Jesus was a real person, with "a quarter of 18 to 34 year olds believing he was a mythical or fictional character." 
Mythicism is a follow-on of sorts on the work of groups like the Jesus Seminar, liberal theologians who took a scalpel to the Gospels and declared them to be almost-entirely fabricated, based not on collections of Jesus sayings but on literary invention. A kind of one-upsmanship, if you will.

On the face of it, the argument is compelling. There are no contemporary accounts of Jesus and very few independent references in the immediate period following his purported death. Most of the information we have on him comes from clearly-biased sources.

The accounts in the Gospels are filled with obvious parallels to earlier stories in the Bible and from pagan religions. And the dates in the Gospel stories can't always be squared with what we know from recorded Roman history.

But you would be shocked to find out how little we actually know about many, many historical figures, especially figures from antiquity.

Noted H.P. Lovecraft scholar Robert Price is a well-known Mythicist (and former Baptist minister) and sums up his arguments thusly:

1. There is no mention of a miracle-working Jesus in secular sources. 
2. The epistles, written earlier than the gospels, provide no evidence of a recent historical Jesus; all that can be taken from the epistles, Price argues, is that a Jesus Christ, son of God, lived in a heavenly realm, there died as a sacrifice for human sin, was raised by God and enthroned in heaven. 
3. The Jesus narrative is paralleled in Middle Eastern myths about dying and rising gods; Price names Baal, Osiris, Attis, Adonis, and Dumuzi/Tammuz as examples, all of which, he writes, survived into the Hellenistic and Roman periods and thereby influenced early Christianity.  
Yeah, I don't find any of these arguments remotely compelling. Why? Let's go in order.

1. Scholars will tell you that the region was filled with itinerant preachers and miracle workers. There's no reason for one or the other to be recorded except that he was noticed by a someone who could write. Someone being a Roman bureaucrat, who probably couldn't tell any of these characters apart.

And there's good reason to believe that Jesus was also leading a political rebellion and that alone would be reason for him to be written out of history.

2. Well, this is just weak. What this tells us is that Jesus was the Elvis of his day and was instantly mythologized as soon as he died. This in fact speaks to the power and effectiveness of his ministry, seeing that he was deified even before the Gospels were written.

3. Well, of course. He died. And rumors soon spread among his followers that he rose from the dead, and not-uncommon reaction to such a trauma. And having studied the Mysteries in earnest I can tell you with certainty that the Gospel stories and the Mystery dramas just aren't that similar. The Mystery stories are a lot more psychedelic.

Speaking of which, there was an early variation on the Mythicist argument:

In his books The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (1970) and The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (1979), the British archaeologist and philologist John M. Allegro advanced the theory that stories of early Christianity originated in a shamanistic Essene clandestine cult centered around the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms. He also argued that the story of Jesus was based on the crucifixion of the Teacher of Righteousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls. 
Which leads in an oblique way to perhaps the best-known proponent of Mythicism these days, Joseph Atwill, author of Caesar's Messiah. From his site:
...Atwill returned to his studies of early Christianity through the newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls.  It seemed incredible that two diametrically opposite forms of messianic Judaism emerged from Judea at the same time.  One sect was waging a religious war against the Romans, seeking a Messiah that would lead them to military victory. Simultaneously, the followers of Jesus were supposedly organizing a religion based around a Messiah that told them to “turn the other cheek” and “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” 
The key came in Josephus’ War of the Jews, which describes Titus’s destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.  The military campaign exactly paralleled over 40 moments in the ministry of Jesus described in the Gospels; an inconceivable coincidence. 
As Atwill presents in Caesar's Messiah, the Flavian Roman imperial family created Christianity to pacify the militaristic opposition to their rule. Even more incredibly, they placed a literary satire within the Gospels to mark their handiwork.   
There's no doubt the Flavians were deeply involved with the development of Christianity and its eventual elevation as official cult of state. Probably from very, very early on. It's also possible that they took the Gospels- under the sole control of Rome for thirteen centuries- and worked in a number of in-jokes that spoke to their interference with this religion.

However, there were all kinds of other Gospels, stories and collections of Jesus sayings that were not included in the Bible. There was a major schism in the Jesus movement that is recorded in the Bible itself. We are conditioned to believe those other stories are apocryphal because the Church says so but we have no other reason to believe they are any more or less authentic than the Gospels themselves. 

Moreover, scholars generally tend to dismiss Atwill's arguments that the Judean insurrection was such a military threat that Rome would need to construct a religion to handle them. What the Romans were probably more concerned with were the Jewish converts within the Empire and the appeal a strict, exclusive and text-based religion had in the squalor and confusion of the time.

Even so, the Flavian project was not universally appreciated in the Roman hierarchy. Though the accounts have been wildly overstated, there were periodic (and often brutal) crackdowns on Christians, right up the beginning of the Fourth Century.

Jesus was clearly mythologized, there can be no argument about that. Real people are mythologized all the time. It doesn't mean they don't exist.

Another prominent Mythicist is the late Dorothy Murdock aka Acharya S. Murdock was a brilliant scholar and prodigious writer but she was also a polemicist who took the work of some extremely questionable historians like Gerald Massey too seriously. Murdock thought that the Apostle Paul was a myth too. 

 In fact, from the odd coincidences between his life and that of Jesus, it has been suggested by not a few people that Jesus Christ is a fictional character based in large part on Apollonius of Tyana, although Christians beginning in early times cast the accusation of plagiarism in the opposite direction. 
In addition to this possible development are striking correlations between the lives of Apollonius and the apostle Paul, who, like Jesus, strangely finds no place in contemporary history, despite claims to his having made quite a ruckus in a populated and well documented part of the world. 
It appears that the stories of both Jesus and Paul were in part fabricated from that of Apollonius. 
The Jesus-Apollonius parallels are well-known in Biblical studies and parallels between the two figures have been commented on throughout history (no less a luminary than Voltaire weighed in on the issue). Scholar Bart Ehrman summed up the controversy:
 ...A supernatural being informed his mother the child she was to conceive would not be a mere mortal but would be divine. He was born miraculously, and he became an unusually precocious young man. As an adult he left home and went on an itinerant preaching ministry, urging his listeners to live, not for the material things of this world, but for what is spiritual. 
He gathered a number of disciples around him, who became convinced that his teachings were divinely inspired, in no small part because he himself was divine. He proved it to them by doing many miracles, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. But at the end of his life he roused opposition, and his enemies delivered him over to the Roman authorities for judgment...
The problem is that Apollonius' story wasn't actually written down until 230 CE or so, and Jesus stories had been very well-circulated by that point. Moreover Apollonius' biography was commissioned by Julia Domna, wife of Septimus Severus, aka the Empress of Rome.

Julia's husband was having a lot of problems with Christians at the time, which I still believe weren't just a case of the Romans being meanies (Severus seemed well-disposed to Christians personally) but of Christians engaging in acts of sedition against the State (acts which later copyists just happened to forget to record in Roman histories).

Given Julia's background- and the mess the Empire was in- she may have thought it advantageous to offer up an alternative religion to the masses. But the subject of ancient hagiographies is germane to the Mythicist argument. 

One of the reasons I not only believe Jesus was a real person but was also a charismatic preacher and leader are a number of thorny problems the Gospel writers feel they need to address. 

Contemporary writers may not have recorded Jesus at the time (and I'm sorry, but the dismissals of quotes like Tacitus' are simple goalpost moving) but I strongly believe that stories about him survived past his death in oral traditions. And then there's the whole issue of John the Baptist, something which even the Mythicists don't seem to want to deal with...



  1. For number one there are plenty of contemporaries of the alleged during the alleged time for which there is no writings.

    For number two your argument seems weaker, you make a completely baseless assumption that Jesus was fact and not myth. By that you assume there was a ministry, again, no contemprary sources and Christianity did not become wide spread until far later. Look at all the stupid things people believe in this world without evidence, your counter-argument has no substance.

    Number three, again you assume existence but these myths have historically morphed over time, I don't see how you separate the Jesus narrative from the others.

    1. Well, the same people who argue Jesus was a myth argue that Apollonius was a real person when in fact the evidence for the latter is far weaker. And evidence of impact is evidence as far as I am concerned. Paul comes along and begins writing 20 years after Jesus' death and not only had contact with people who knew Jesus when he was alive but in fact came into fairly substantial conflict with them. The arguments that Paul was writing about a mystical Christ figure and not Jesus don't wash because this is long after the crucifixion. I've read your more radical Deadheads write pretty similar things about Jerry Garcia but no one argues he didn't exist.

    2. "For number one there are plenty of contemporaries of the alleged during the alleged time for which there is no writings."


  2. The head of John the Baptist, is of importance. Did that upstart Jesus steal JTB's ministry? Lordee, lordee,why are you going downe this particular path of inquiry? I'm sure it will be interesting. Shine forth brave souls. 87

    1. Oh, we're getting there. Hold onto your hat...

  3. Personally I'm still on the fence regarding a lot of this information...I'm guessing you'll be exploring the Egyptian angle to all this at some point? Not just the Horus/Jesus connection but also the flight into Egypt & what happened afterwards (the "missing years", possible initiation into mystery cults, etc).

    Also found this interesting bit about the Essenes & Egypt:

    Looking forward to the rest of this series! I really need a break from current politics (& I'm guessing I'm not the only one).

    1. I'll get into the Egypt flight but not the Horus stuff. That, quite frankly, is spurious and has been pretty widely debunked. And I mean debunked, not disputed.

  4. I want to thank you. This is coming together nicely. Not something I can put in to words. I asked you to help. You are. Thank you CLK. You are a credit to our human race. - I wonder what myths 'these' believe in?

    1. Man, the Times is pushing that agenda, aren't they? Wait until people are buying AIs off the shelf and building their own aggregators and search engines...

  5. Don't know if you are going to expand on The Baptist, but here is a nugget from a paper I have been reading....It was not by coincidence that the cloning of Dolly the sheep occurred at the Roslyn Institute in Roslyn, Scotland located 7 miles south of Edinburgh. Situated directly between Roslyn Institute and Edinburgh is Roslyn Chapel, the famous shrine of the Knights Templar that is geometrically designed as a copy of the ruins of Herod's Temple. Near Roslyn Chapel is the home of the St Clair or Sinclair family 62., which have historically been revered as prominent Freemasons of Britain and a sacred family of the Merovingian bloodline. The esoteric interpretation of Dolly compares the white sheep to Christ, whose divine and immortal state the racial eugenicists hope to duplicate through biotechnology. According to news reports, the cloning of the first human embryo occurred in 1999 on June 24, which is the Masonic feast of St. John the Baptist, patron saint of Freemasonry. 63. here... love your work sir, wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy and safe New Year

    1. I believe I knew this, I seem to recall reading it sometime ago. Really makes you wonder, doesn't it?

  6. Quite the Christmas special, I think. After all, this season in particular is high on low standards. I'd rather have a lousy present to unwrap than no present at all.

    Merry X-mas, Chris.

  7. Please ignore my latest comment. I failed to notice the "Part I" of the header.

    Please, Chris, give us the nex part in our stockings before X-mas morning.

    I might even go to church on sunday to better the chance of you answering my prayer.

    1. Oh, I'm working on it. Working on right now. Be here well before Christmas.

  8. Is the Robert Price you mentioned the same Robert Price who went on Aeon Byte podcast to assert that the apostle Paul was Simon Magus? (I'm having trouble with that.)

    Interestingly, your comment that the region was filled with miracle workers is something I've heard from Jews to explain why they don't accept Jesus as the Messiah. To them Jesus was just one of several guys doing similar things. Some of them respect Jesus as a prophet, but he doesn't stand out to them as Messiah material. This is also my main reason for not buying into the mythicist spiel even though I left the Christian Church years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if people are looking in the wrong place or for the wrong name. Archaeologists have found a second Bethlehem in Galilee they think fits the stories better. Wouldn't it be rich if that were the real birthplace?

    1. Why take a figure as interesting and complex as Simon Magus and try to make into Paul? That's just odd. There's so much written on this topic and so much written about that in turn that I find myself just returning to the original texts and starting in from there.

  9. Jesus may or many not have existed, but there is no smoking gun evidencing his existence. It is odd that there are no Jewish sources contemporaneous with Jesus' time, acknowledging his existence, even if critical, however one cannot rule out Jesus' existence completely, but I am doubtful. The supposed mentions of Jesus in the Talmud are highly dubious and difficult to interpret. Clearly if there is a mention, it is after the fact and a reaction to Christian gospels and the attempt to evangelize to Jewry, and hence a mythical response to Christianity itself. Much of these allusions have been altered and edited over the centuries. This alone (Talmud and Jesus) is a difficult subject and one needs to know both the historical context of these allusions as well as be familiar with Hebrew. And this is just one small aspect of this controversy.

    Another thing is talking about whether Jesus existed or not misses the point, that is Christianity is a myth in the pejorative sense of the word. And this is what matters. The belief in a virgin birth, in the messiah who can save humanity from itself by sacrificing himself on the cross, the resurrection, the missing body from the tomb and so much else is clearly mythical and drawn from other sources (the contradictions between the Gospels on Christ's phantastical death and Judas's death are pertinent). It is these entrenched beliefs on which all the Churches are built, that matter. Matter in the sense that they are lies and people believe in them. The somewhat paranoid belief that Christianity was manufactured by a cabal to serve certain political or elitist interests also ignores the social unconscious interpretation of religion. That its popularity (Christianity in this regard) caters to unconscious needs in the populace, at that time and place. The messiah who saves us from ourselves, is a convenient and easy denial of personal responsibility (we see this in the political sphere today, the belief in political messiahs on the Left and Right), hence the popularity and persistence of Christianity. To oversimplify.

    1. It's really not odd that we don't have Jewish sources considering that the entire country was leveled some 40 years after Jesus' death. It's not like you had an internet to back up your files on to. If you lost a text chronicling Jesus's existence to a Roman fire, you lost it forever. That's why most of the information we have from Judea at the time is from Roman sources, and Romans weren't champing at the bit to record every trouble-making Jew who popped up and proclaimed himself King. It's simply not the way things worked back then.

  10. This will be interesting. There will be claims and counterclaims, as to the historicity of this and the ahistoricity of that. As a person who followed the path from fairly fundamentalist believer, to a sort of cleansing agnosticism, to where I am now: a somewhat open minded zone wherein Idealism is flavored and detailed in an Animistic sort of way, I can only look at the question of the historical existence of Jesus Christ and ask "Why Not?" If we really do live in a Magical Reality, or at least in a universe where paranormal events happen, synchronicities occur, and immaterial beings interact with us and influence events, then, as Jeff Kripal has said, why couldn't such things have happened in First Century Palestine, or five centuries earlier in India? And from that it follows, for me, well why Not a Christ figure in the flesh? Or why Not a Buddha, for that matter?

    Again, speaking from my own point of view, not knowing if there is an answer to this historical question, it just seems to me that the view will always be clearer from the top of the fence, than from a well-dug entrenched position.

    Still... Merry Christmas, All!

    1. Happy Holi daze Disposium. There are many references to the Buddha being a historical persona. Being aware, awake, present, is not walking on water. Buddha, dharma, sangha, is no pie in the sky. The mindfulness, and compassion of Buddhist thought is here now. 87

    2. From a magical perspective it all comes out in the wash anyway. The problem is all the politics and all the baggage that comes with the story. We can't look at it as a story anymore because there's so much additional freight to carry. I'm trying to just look past that for a bit here.

    3. Yes. The Story as a political tool used by the State has been devastating at times. And as tools for personal liberation, other versions of that Story have been incredibly effective at other times. I do think it's good that you are trying to peer past the assumptions and obscurations that have shrouded the Story's origins. Kudos!

      I guess my point was, Some of the Doubt about this isn't so much that many of us actually know what we're talking about, but that we want to look like we do! For a generation of people watching the Republic finally exposing itself as Empire, it's very easy to be cynical about everything, especially about miracle workers. Possibly, some of us are saying Jesus didn't exist because he couldn't have existed because our world view has no room for his existence. But Jesus, whoever he was, probably doesn't care about our world view.

      In any case, I applaud your willingness to Zag when the others Zig.

      Long may you do so.

  11. "Jesus was clearly mythologized, there can be no argument about that. Real people are mythologized all the time. It doesn't mean they don't exist."

    This passage stood out for me. Simple but far-reaching in its implications, and also irrefutable because we have direct experience of it in our lives. I also think it may be a key to understanding how we are being disinfo-ed to death, by being sold mythic narratives made up of facts and real evidence (re #Pizzagate) so that the latter get lost in the mist of those myths. Myths were once a way to communicate deeper reality; they've become a way to obscure surface reality by prematurely submerging it into the deep (spinning it to appeal to our unconscious fears & desires; Ufology might be another example of this).

    Chris: have you read or listened to Rene Girard? His reading of the mythical aspect of the Gospel is unique and, I think, profoundly validating both of its spiritual significance and, less directly, its historical veracity.

    I've also never doubted the existence of a historical Yeshua, despite growing up with nothing but contempt for Christianity (and despite still not having managed to shake that contempt). It's a felt sense more than a logical deduction, but it's good to see you addressing this.

  12. I'll paste in my response from FB. Girard's theories on human sacrifice are very interesting as the world re-paganizes and human sacrifice becomes a major phenomenon, despite what ostensible religious gloss it might take at the moment (ISIS, deaths caused by exorcists, Smiley face murders, mass shootings, etc). Maybe the civilizing power of controlling the impulse towards blood sacrifice and human sacrifice- and that power was certainly often provisional - was Christianity's most lasting contribution to human striving. Paganism was never and will not be the happy pseudo-Christianity of the LARP/Fandom-derived "pagan communities"; no one who's studied ancient religions seriously believes that. Even at Eleusis the price of admission was a baby pig. And like a torrential river true Paganism will find its own course and rediscover the elemental powers that nursed it for thousands of years- blood sacrifice and tribal identitarianism. Santa Muerte cultists, Volkische heathens, Creepy Pasta extremists et al are dancing on the edge of an very deep volcano, dealing with very ancient, very potent and very, very patient entities.

    I'll add that everyone should read their Golden Bough to see how it really worked back in the day...

    1. Blood sacrifice isn't just a 'pagan' practice. The Jews did blood sacrifices too. Also, not all pagans practiced animal sacrifice, some were vegetarians because they didn't want to harm animals. I think we need to be careful not to stereotype the ancient pagans.

  13. This post feels very timely. I think we all need to reconnect with both ourselves and our faith during these times, whatever that faith may be. Not just blind acceptance either, but really try to feel it in your heart. Genuine spiritual meaning is gonna be even more important in the times ahead.

  14. A thoughtful piece. A new book is out called,"The Creation of Christ" that delves not nly into many of the prominent researchers you mentioned, but introduces other scholarship to address the issue. Their conclusion is that Christianity was a a Roman propaganda tool to deal with the judean revolts, and makes a compelling case that alters our typical timeline and allows for a more pro-Roman strain of Judaism.

    One if its chief arguments is that the New Testament never casts the Romans in a bad light but always lay the blame for the crucifixion on the zealots among the Jews who were anticipating a military messiah to increase their reach. By the time of Hellenistic Greece, there was a cosmopolitan view of many religions. And according to this book, by putting into Jesus's words the prophecy of the destruction of the temple, it allowed the conquest to be an almost sanctified event brought about by the Jews themselves.

    However, one could also argue this book acts as an apologist for Judaism, a religion that was surprisingly able to infiltrate the Roman Empire.

  15. Intuitively, I do believe there was a revolutionary teacher figure, as much of the Essenes refer to, but there is still much mystery as to how things went down. We are missing a great deal of history around that time, including secular history.

    Much is avoided regarding the Mithraism practiced in underground pools where people were encouraged to have supernatural experiences, as well as the gnostic teachings and later the Neoplatonic practices of theurgy which seemed very real to those in antiquity. Then this area of knowledge is also wiped from the historic record, and we can only wonder what the true religion of the original Christians was.

    Originally referred to as Chrestians, and the fact that "Jesus" intentionally spoke in parables or codes for an "inside group", imply Jesus was of an underground movement. Maybe a dissident?

    I think too much is made of the "Give unto Ceasar..." line while disregarding Jesus' behavior in the temple with the money changers. Also, there is great reason to believe that many events of the bible did not happen in the land we assume it did.

    The Celtic church -- also destroyed later -- had a trove of information about the past, including Egypt, and this church seems to have grown parallel and aside from the Roman church. We also know from Julius Caesar's books that the people of Brittania had an almost superior technology with their boats and a mighty civilization. Even people from far away China have been discovered in Brittain around 50 BC. And China too had an incredible empire as well. Zoroastrianism was also a massive and popular -- and ancient -- religion.

    John the Baptist is mysterious as he seems to be the superior of Jesus other than a textual adjustment to divert us from this. Why were the people lee by St. John not spoken of, and yet centuries later, new secret groups would be invigorated by his name such as the Templars.

    What is the truth behind St. John, and why did the Templars have a strange tradition of worshipping a "head"? Was this a proto-crypto-Judaic form of worship that was surviving underground?

    What of Manni, or the development of the Cathars, Waldensians, and other forms of "religious faith" that seem to claim a heritage to a more authentic Christianity, one perhaps that survived in disparate pockets of believers before the greater urban commercial strains of Christianity was subverted and transformed into a death cult?

    We forget Christianity existed for over 300 years before the Nicene council that determined arbitrary tenets of the faith such as the deification if the man. Many if the earliest believers did not think of Jesus as God.

    Many scriptures show a Jesus that seems far from our notion of a poor carpenter, but an aristocratic man. Is there truth to his connection to Joseph of Arimathea, a tin trader who would have been among the most wealthy men in the world.

    Did Jesus have a twin, a son, a daughter, or did he represent a powerful dynasty or faction that was on the losing side of history and thus erased? The map of the middle east is no map of the lands as they were then, nor do we have any sense of the true marvels of that world suppressed by our modern civilization.

    Perhaps the Vatican does have the keys... but to a true history kept from us because it would xpose their illegitimacy from the donation of Constantine onward...

    And before Christisnity conquered by the sword, what knowledge did the Druids possess? And does their knowledge live on even now?

  16. Clearly, if Jesus was a teacher, he was not teaching about his eventual death and how it would absolve man from Adam's transgression, a thing I always felt was silly.

    No, there are too many clues out there particularly among the mystical underground that indicates there was a kind of perennial religion influenced by ideas we associate with Eastern ideas, Buddhusm, Egyptian Theraputi, and Zoriastrianism, among other pagan ideas, perhaps derived from druidcal teachings, which were themselves the collected wisdom of humanity from times far in the mists of pre-history, and perhaps anti-diluvian ideas.

    One of the most rare and extensive studies on our most ancient religions determined it involved "ISIS," although I am sure the context was lost by the time the later Egyptians took it over.

    We must consider that more knowledge about our past is lost than found, and in the west, we are never instructed about the many incredible empires that existed alongside Rome and earlier that were superior in their advancement.

    Then the legacy empires took the places of these ancien empires and so much was lost. Atlantis can be a metaphor for a highly developed ancient worldwide collection of civilizations that were destroyed somehow, with a very small saving remnant that survived to begin again the process of rebuilding.

    But it is folly to believe our short-sighted and biased textbooks that conveniently leave out so much lost knowledge. What do we know even of recent cultures washed away such as the Etruscans, Berbers, Thracians, Trojans, and even hyperboreans of the north?

    In Afrca, why is the desert where it is, and why did many North American species perish, and what is their mound culture about?

    Christianity as it is now is most likely an empty dogmatic narrative that fails to contain whatever true magic once invigorated it. It's only true blessing to modernity is its contrast to the Old Testament and it's cycle of violence, ethnic supremacism, and treatment of life as less than sacred. Whether in allegory or not, the one remaining truth animated by the Chrustian allegory is the notion of self sacrifice, rejection of materialism as the only realm, and the sacred notion of "loving thy neighbor as thyself."

    It was this commandment that had early sect leaders of Christianity trying to abandon the Old Testament in favor f the new, since both books represented different philosophies of life. Is this why Judaism does not assimilate into other cultures as well because it maintains as its axiomatic heart the notion of its people being "apart", special, chosen?

  17. Separate Jesus (Head) from Christos (The Body) and could it be more crystal clear? John - the Baptist :)

  18. (Chris and I were chatting privately about this article and he asked me to repost my remarks)

    I've read a ton of Bart Ehrman's books and am a member of his blog (he has a paywall). After his debate with Robert Price, Bart spent several articles on his blog going deeper into his arguments and refutations to opponents (both Price and some of the prominent Mythicist that weighed into the debate via the slidelines on their own blogs). Some people bemoan there is very tenuous indications of historicity of Jesus, but after seeing Bart take this subject on from every scholarly perspective known, I'm rather amazed how forceful the aggregate for historicity is.

    Just an aside - if Jesus was a Flavian invention, you'd think that Jesus would have warranted greater breadth of treatment than two brief mentions by Josephus (scholarship holds the Josephus references pertaining to Jesus are both genuine but one of them likely was embellished a bit by latter Christians - and one of them stands as an oddity unless the other - the undisputed reference - is presumed to the reader as prefacing the latter one).

    Also, as Bart Ehrman points out, the only reason that we know of Jospehus today is because his histories that he authored survived down to us. No one in his time frame mentions him. Yet in the 1st century (Jesus lived a bit earlier in the first century and Josephus toward the latter part), Bart compiled up to 20 to 30 independently authored sources that wrote about Jesus (for someone that was presumably a made up myth that's actually a lot of independent source attention - and a personage such as Jospehus has none at all by comparison).

    In the Apostle Paul's epistles we have (at least of the 7 undisputed) from his Galatians epistle references to Cephus (Peter the apostle) and the brother of Jesus, James (leader of the Jeresalem church). James as brother to Jesus, is multi-attested in the Gospel of Mark. Even the Gospel of Thomas, as does Paul (and the author of Luke/Acts) refers to James to be the leader over the apostles - the leader of a Christ-followers church in Jeresalem. (Which BTW, the Gospel of Thomas has about 40% of its verses paralleled in the Synoptic Gospels (Mark/Matthew/Luke).)

    Suffice to say, am in the Jesus is historical camp. Nor do I find the accounts of resurrection untenable. My father died at age 64. My mother saw a vision of him looking at her, standing outside in the yard, he appeared at about the age of when they married.