A number of people like to claim that Jesus never existed, that Christianity was stolen from Pagan religions and that Jesus was an assortment of Pagan deities. It should be noted that there is a large body of extra-biblical evidence that shows Jesus existed as a historical person. Furthermore, most reliefs and religious texts used to prove “parallels” post-date Christianity, some come from locations that were thousands of miles away (sometimes areas that had not even been discovered yet) and some alleged parallels have been totally invented by so-called sceptics. Most Christ Mythers also equivocate terminology and symbolism to claim parallels that are not really there. In addition, I have yet to see a Christ-myther quote or utilise a primary source or any qualified credentialed scholar. I shall first address the copycat claims and then the argument from silence. NOTE: I shall indicate sources used at the bottom.
Pagan Copycat Claims
The first variant of the Jesus Myth Hypothesis is that Christianity is really an assemblage of Pagan religions, and Jesus was based on Pagan deities that pre-date Christianity.
First, I shall bring up the Gospel accounts of Jesus, as mythicists frequently get things wrong.
Mythicists usually claim the following was said about Jesus: -
• Born on Dec 25th
• Born of a Virgin
• Birth announced by a Star in the East
• Three Kings or wise men visit Mary and Joseph and adorn baby Jesus with gifts.
• Birth attended by Shepherds
• Adorned by Angels
• Fled massacre of babies ordered by Herod
• Became a child teacher at 12
• Began ministry at 30
• Baptised by John the Baptist
• Had 12 disciples
• Performed miracles
• Known as Son of God, Lamb of God etc
• Betrayed by Judas Iscariot for 30 pieces of silver
• Crucified, Buried in a tomb
• Rose again three days later on March 25th
In reality, about a third of those are wrong.
The December 25th birth date was an invention of the Roman Catholic Church, and was added three hundred years after the life of Jesus and the writing of the Gospels. This date was chosen because the Romans were former Pagans and December 25th was associated with Saturnalia and the Winter Solstice. There is no mention in the Bible of the birth date of Jesus.
Star in the East
Jesus' birth was not announced by the Star in the East, rather it led the wise men to his location of birth. Jesus was two years old by the time the wise men reached Mary and Joseph.
This proves that Atheists don’t read the Bible, or at least don’t pay attention to detail. Firstly, there are not Kings, but wise men, and secondly, there are not three of them. I guess people just think three gifts, therefore three wise men.
Teacher at 12
Jesus did NOT become a teacher at 12. Rather, he walked into the Jewish Temple and asked the Jewish leaders and teachers questions. The Jewish leaders and teachers were amazed by his understanding, not his teachings, as Jesus never taught them anything but ASKED questions.
As with the December 25th birth date, the date of Jesus’ resurrection is not given. The March 25th date was added by the Roman Catholic Church 300 years after the writings of the Gospels, because of this dates association with the Spring Solstice.
Okay, this is a relatively amusing claim by a few nutcases out there. If the claim that Jesus is a rip-off of Pagan deities wasn’t enough, some even claim that Joseph (as in Joseph with the multicoloured coat) was what Jesus was based on.
Okay, so they claim: -
• Joseph was born of a virgin
• Had 12 brothers
• Betrayed by his brother Judah for 20 pieces of silver
• Began ministry at 30
Born of a Virgin
None of these are correct at all. Joseph was the son of Jacob and Rachel, when they had sex. It may say, God opened her womb, yet this is God removing her barrenness, something quite common in the Old Testament. Not a virgin conception.
Joseph had eleven brothers. Jesus had twelve disciples. Mythicists fail to take into account that Joseph was one of the twelve whilst Jesus was distinct from his twelve disciples.
Betrayed by his brother Judah for 20 pieces of silver
With Joseph, his brothers threw him in a well and some wanted to kill him. Reuben did not think they should kill Joseph (as he intended to go back and get him) and suggested they leave him in the well. Judah then spots the slave owners and suggests they sell him to them, as he does not want to be implicated in the murder of their brother either. This is quite the opposite of Judas, who knowingly betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders, full well knowing they wanted to kill Jesus.
Began Ministry at 30
Lastly, Joseph was a teenager when he began reading dreams. Upon reaching Egypt he was sold to Potiphar. He may have became Pharaoh's right hand man at thirty, yet had been telling dreams and working for Egyptians way before then. No deal.
Mithra is perhaps the most favoured "Pagan Christ" as delinquent Atheist mythicists always bring him up in attempting to prove the Copycat Thesis.
Firstly, there are actually three deities named Mithras. The Vedic god Mitra, the Zoroastrian deity Mithra and the Roman deity Mithras. The myths attributed to each Mithras are, in reality, completely different to each other. This is a common mistake made by mythicists, who erroneously believe they are one and the same. It makes me wonder if Atheists have ever bothered researching Mithra. It is hard to think they would not notice the stark differences between them.
Of these, Roman Mithraism flowered 200 years after the beginnings of Christianity anyway, rendering copycat claims moot.
Mythicists typically claim: -
• Born of a virgin on December 25th in a cave, and his birth was attended by shepherds.
• He was considered a great travelling teacher and master.
• He had 12 companions or disciples.
• Mithra’s followers were promised immortality.
• He performed miracles.
• As the “great bull of the Sun”, Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
• He was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again. His resurrection was celebrated every day.
• He was called “the Good Shepherd” and identified with both the Lion and the Lamb.
• He was considered the “Way, the Truth and the Light”, and the “Logos”, “Redeemer”, Saviour” and “Messiah”, “Creator of the world”, “God of gods”, “the mediator”, “mighty ruler”, “king of gods”, “lord of heaven and earth”, “Sun of Righteousness”.
• His sacred day was Sunday, the “Lord’s Day”, hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ. Mithra had his principle festival on what would later become Easter.
• His religion had a Eucharist, or “Lord’s Supper”, at which Mithra said, “He who shall not eat of my body or drink of my blood shall not be saved”.
• 1 Corinthians 10:4 is identical to words found in Mithraic scriptures, except the name Mithra is used instead of Christ.
• Mithraic services were performed by “fathers”, and the “chief of fathers” was a sort of pope, who always lived at Rome, was called “Pater Paturnus”. Mithraic initiates called each other “brothers”
Born of a Virgin on Dec. 25th, witnessed by Shepherds
There is some indication that Mithra was associated with this date, yet, Jesus was not born on December 25th, rendering this meaningless. As for the virgin birth, not even by a long shot. Mithra emerged fully formed from a rock. The shepherd parallel comes from a carving of figures that are shown to help Mithra out of the rock, yet, without any inscriptions whatsoever. Of course, this scene is post-Christian. The Iranian Mithra was the result Ahura Mazda impregnating his mother, in an incestuous relationship. The last Mithra was said to be “born of the dawn”, whatever that means.
Travelling teacher and master.
Mithra was not a teacher, let alone a travelling one. Furthermore, this is what we would expect of any type of religious figure, as travelling was the only way one could spread their message.
12 companions or disciples.
In Zoroastrianism, Mithra had a companion named Varuna, who was his superior. Roman Mithra had a number of animal companions, although not twelve of them. He also had two miniature torch-bearing versions of himself named Cautes and Cautopates. Two carvings are used to support this idea, one showing Mithra eating and drinking with six figures and another showing him with a large group of figures. Not only are these post-Christian, but also do not depict what the mythicists try and claim they do. The latter one shows Mithra with twelve figures representing the zodiac sign, yet there are also other figures present bringing the number past twelve. Eating and drinking was common, as people needed to live believe it or not. Furthermore, in Ancient times, most people did not dine alone, but with friends and relatives, and bread and wine were common food and drink consumed throughout antiquity.
Followers were promised immortality.
This claim is just guesswork and meaningless. A religion would not do very well if it did not promise its followers something. Roman Mithraism offered its followers some form of deliverance from a fate only non-believers would suffer, yet this is noticeable of every major world religion. The only clue we have about Mithraic theology is a piece of graffiti from 200AD. Way after the Gospels.
This is what we would expect of any major religious figure.
Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace.
Mithra did not sacrifice himself and was not the "bull of the Sun". Rather, he killed a bull. Also, Jesus was killed for the salvation of humankind, not world peace.
Buried and Resurrected
These claims are complete fabrication and outright false. There is no death of any Mithra anywhere, and so obviously no burial or resurrection as he would have needed to be dead for these two things to happen.
He was called "the Good Shepherd" and identified with both the Lamb and the Lion.
The Lion was Mithra's totem animal and both the Roman and Zoroastrian Mithra were associated with the Lion. Apart from that, the other two are outright lies.
None of these titles have ever been attributed to any Mithra deity. Only mediator to Zoroastrian Mithra, and he was the mediator between good and evil gods not between God and man because of sin. Roman Mithra was associated with the title Logos, yet this was significantly after Christianity.
His sacred day was Sunday, the "Lord's day,", principal festival in Easter.
Zoroastrian Mithra had a number of festivals. He did have a festival in the spring equinox, yet this was one of four meant to represent each season. Sunday was considered sacred in Roman Mithraism, yet there is no indication it was considered the “Lord's Day” whatsoever. Furthermore, there are only seven days in a week, and most major religions have their sacred day on a Saturday or Sunday, so is it surprising when sacred days are placed on the same day? Sunday is sacred in Christianity because that is the day Christ rose from the dead. Of course, Roman Mithraism flowered way after Christianity rendering this claim, like others, pointless.
Had a Eucharist or "Lord's Supper," at which Mithra said, "He who shall not eat of my body or drink of my blood shall not be saved".
The closest thing to a "Last Supper" is when Mithra eats a meal of bread with the sun deity after slaying a bull, not a last supper. The second is just complete fabrication.
1 Cor. 10:4 is "identical words to those found in the Mithraic scriptures, except the name Mithra is used instead of Christ".
Except, no Mithraic scriptures exists, as the teachings and practices of Mithraism were never written down. As JP Holding said, if anybody has any Mithraic scriptures at hand then they better hand them in to the experts as they don’t have any yet.
Mithraic services were conducted by "fathers" and the "chief of the fathers", a sort of pope, who always lived at Rome, was called 'Pater Paturnus.' Mithraic initiates called each other 'brother'.
The titles of Father and Pope were created by the Roman Catholic Church. Besides, this is meaningless as every religion has titles ascribed to religious leaders, and familial terms are used by quite a few religions. Pater Paternus did not always live at Rome, and it would not matter if he did as Rome was the capital and would therefore be the logical place for the head of Roman Mithraism to reside.
This one is surprising considering Zoroaster was a prophet, not a deity. Either way, he still makes for a poor Jesus look-alike. The main source on Zoroaster, the Avesta, was written between 346-360 AD, although there are some pre-Christian sources. Mythicists mistakenly believe every material on Zoroaster is pre-Christian. The accounts of Zoroaster's life that existed before the time of Jesus (the Gathas) consist mainly of vague poetic writings that say very little about his life. Zoroastrian priests wishing to make the religion more appealing added the incredible acts associated with him late on.
Mythicists typically claim:
• Zoroaster was born of a virgin and "immaculate conception by a ray of divine wisdom".
• He was baptised in a river.
• In his youth, he astounded wise men with his wisdom.
• He was tempted in the wilderness by the devil
• He began his ministry at age 30.
• Zoroaster baptised with water, fire and “holy wind”.
• He cast out demons and restored the sight to a blind man.
• He taught about heaven and hell, and revealed mysteries, including resurrection, judgment, salvation and the apocalypse.
• He had a sacred cup or grail.
• He was slain.
• His religion had a Eucharist
• He was the “Word made flesh”
• Zoroaster’s followers expect a “second coming” in the virgin born Saoshytant or Saviour, who is to come in 2341AD and begin his ministry at 30, ushering in a new golden age.
Born of a virgin and "immaculate conception by a ray of divine wisdom".
There is something like this in the Avesta, which refers to a Kingly Glory handed down from generation to generation. Yet, apart from being much later than Christianity, it refers to Zoroaster's spirit, not his body.
Version 1: Zoroaster's parents were a married couple who conceived their son through natural means. Zoroaster is described as laughing when he is born as well as having a visible, glowing aura about him:
"[Zoroaster] had come into the posterity...who are Pourushasp, his father, and Dukdaub who is his mother. And also while he is being born and for the duration of life, he produced a radiance, glow, and brilliance from the place of his own abode..." Denkard, Bk 5 2:1-2
Version 2: In a later text, an addition is inserted by Zoroastrians. We are told Ahura Mazda (the head of the Zoroastrian pantheon) implants the soul of Zoroaster into the sacred Haoma plant and Zoroaster is born via the plant’s milk.
Baptised in a river.
A complete lie. There is one story where he receives a revelation by a river, which he later crosses, but that is about it.
Astounded wise men with his wisdom.
Only half right. When he was 7 he was placed in the care of wise men and later had disagreements with sorcerers who plotted against him. A pretty poor parallel.
Tempted in the wilderness by the devil.
Again, only half true. After 10 years (not 40 days) of visionary experiences he is tempted by a minor demon sent by Ahriman. Here he was tempted to worship the evil gods instead of the good ones. Not only did this not occur in the wilderness, but the devil did not even come himself. Poor parallel.
This story is found in the Vendidad, the Zoroastrian text that lists the laws regarding demons, penned sometime between 250 - 650 A.D. (centuries after the life of Jesus):
"Again to him said the Maker of the evil world, Angra Mainyu: 'Do not destroy my creatures, O holy
Zarathushtra... Renounce the good Religion of the worshippers of Mazda, and thou shalt gain such a boon as...the ruler of the nations.'" Vendidad Fargad 19:6
Began his ministry at age 30.
This is the first one that is actually true, yet comes from the Pahvali literature, which is post-Christian by quite a few centuries.
Zoroaster baptised with water, fire, and "holy wind".
This one is odd as it would be a parallel with John the Baptist, not Jesus. Even so, there is no evidence for any of this. Zoroaster had an association with fire, and that is about it. This is just grasping at straws.
Cast out demons and restored the sight to a blind man.
This one is fraudulent as well. Zoroaster cast out pestilences. In one account, Zoroaster did heal a blind man, but this is from a tenth century AD document.
Heaven and hell, and revealed mysteries, including resurrection, judgment, salvation, and the apocalypse.
This one is partially true, yet not all the terms have the same meanings as they do in Judeo-Christian tradition. Zoroastrianism taught that after judgment the dead will rise but salvation was by works alone (salvation was earned) as opposed to the Judeo-Christian concept of salvation through grace, faith and obedience (salvation is given, not earned). Most of this comes from late AD sources anyway and there is no teaching regarding atonement.
He had a sacred cup or grail.
This is completely false and meaningless. Jesus never had a sacred of cup or grail anyway. That was a product of medieval legend. I guess some people really are desperate.
He was slain.
Zoroaster was actually slain, yet this is insignificant as all of the stories about his death are post-Christian.
His religion had a Eucharist.
Mostly false. Zoroastrians had a communal meal like every other religious and political movement in ancient times. Yet there is no atonement in Zoroastrianism, so there can be no Eucharist. Anything remotely similar comes much much later.
He was the "Word made flesh".
"Second coming" in the virgin born Saoshytant or Saviour, who is to come in 2341 AD.
This is true to minor extent. A future deliverer was promised in texts dated as early as the 400BC, yet no major detail is added until the 9th century AD. These texts promise three saviours, not one anyway.
The Buddha (Gautama)
This one is equally odd, as Gautama was not a god, but a man who reached the ‘ultimate pinnacle of enlightenment’. It should also be noted that Buddhism is an atheistic religion.
• Buddha was born on December 25th of the virgin Maya, and his birth was attended by a “Star of Announcement”, wise men and angels singing heavenly songs.
• At his birth, he was pronounced ruler of the world and presented with “costly jewels and precious substance”.
• His life was threatened by a king, “who was advised to destroy the child, as he was liable to overthrow him”.
• Was of royal lineage
• Taught in the temple at age 12.
• Crushed a serpent’s head (as was traditionally said of Jesus) and was tempted by Mara, the “Evil One”, when fasting.
• Was baptised with water, with the “Spirit of God” or “Holy Ghost” present.
• Performed miracles and wonders, healed the sick and fed 500 men with a “small basket of cakes”, and walked on water.
• Abolished idolatry, was a “sower of the world”, and preached the “establishment of the kingdom of righteousness”.
• Followers were obliged to take vows of poverty and renounce the world.
• Was transfigured on a mount when it was said his face “shone as the brightest sun and moon”.
• In some traditions, died on a cross.
• Was resurrected, as his coverings were unrolled from his body and his tomb was opened by supernatural powers. Ascended bodily to Nirvana or “heaven”.
• Was called Lord, Master, Light of the world, God of gods, Father of the World, Almighty and All-Knowing Ruler, Redeemer of all, Holy One, the author of Happiness, Possessor of All, the Omnipotent, the Supreme Being, the Eternal One. Was considered a sin bearer, Good Shepherd, the Carpenter, the Infinite and Everlasting, and the Alpha and the Omega.
• Came to fulfil, not destroy the law.
• Is to “in the latter days” to restore order to the land.
Born on December 25th of the virgin Maya. Birth was attended by a "Star of Announcement," wise men and angels singing heavenly songs.
The earliest biography of Gautama, the Buddhacarita was written in the 2nd century AD and is virtually devoid of most of these claims. Dec 25th is nowhere mentioned and is irrelevant anyway, as aforementioned. Mythicists try to bring up the similarities between the name’s Maya and Mary, despite the fact that, in their respective original languages, sound nothing alike and mean completely different things. Mary is a derivative from Marie, which came from Maria, which came from the Hebrew name Miriam. There were wise men, but they were consulted by Maya's husband. Furthermore, Maya was impregnated when a white elephant entered her womb.
“The most Excellent of all Bodhisattvas fell directly from his place among the residents of Tushita heaven, and streaking through the three worlds, suddenly took the form of a huge six-tusked elephant as white as Himalaya, and entered Maya's womb”. Buddha Karita 1:18
The stories about wise men (although none of them are actually wise men), which are post-Christian: -
Version 1: An ascetic visits the king to relay the information he received from the gods that his child will become a great religious leader. After hearing this, Brahmans decide to dedicate their sons depending on the outcome of the prophecy.
"A son has been born in the family of Suddhodana the king. Thirty-five years from now he will become a Buddha...Whether the young prince become a Buddha or a king, we will each one give a son: so that if he become a Buddha, he shall be followed and surrounded by monks of the warrior caste; and if he become a king, by nobles of the warrior caste." Jataka I:55,57
Version 2: At Gautama's birth, a seer tells Suddhodana that Gautama will become a great religious leader:
"The great seer came to the palace of the king. 'Thy son has been born for the sake of supreme knowledge. Having forsaken his kingdom, indifferent to all worldly objects, he will shine forth as a sun of knowledge to destroy the darkness in the world.'" Buddha-Karita 1:54,62,74
As for “celestial signs/omens” there are these post-Christian sources too: -
Version 1: The Brahmans look for signs of the Buddha on Gautama to determine if he will be a king or religious leader. The signs are not celestial omens but physical markings a Buddha would have:
"They asked [the Brahmans] to observe the marks and characteristics of the Future Buddha's person, and to prophesy his fortune. If a man possessing such marks and characteristics continue in the household life, he becomes a Universal Monarch. If he retire from the world, he becomes a Buddha." Jataka 1:56
Version 2: The gods sent miraculous signs through nature, yet the appearance of a star is never said to have guided the prophet. However, we are told precisely what the signs are:
"Two streams of water bursting from heaven, bright as the moon's rays, having the power of heat and cold, fell down upon that peerless one's benign head to give refreshment to his body... The gods held up a white umbrella in the sky and muttered the highest blessings on his supreme wisdom... Then having learned by signs and through the power of his penances this birth of him who was to destroy all birth, the great seer Asita came to the palace of the king. Thus the great seer beheld the king's son with wonder, his foot marked with a wheel, his fingers and toes webbed, with a circle of hair between his eyebrows, and signs of vigour like an elephant." Buddha Karita 1:35, 37, 54, 65
At his birth, he was pronounced ruler of the world and presented with "costly jewels and precious substance".
No evidence can be found for these in the primary Buddhist documents. Gautama was told he would be the universal ruler of the world, but he rejected this to become a spiritual leader.
"As soon as he was born the thousand-eyed one took him gently, bright like a golden pillar. Two pure streams of water fell from heaven upon his head with piles of Mandara flowers. The yaksha-lords stood round guarding him with golden lotuses in their hands. The great dragons gazed with eyes of intent devotion, and fanned him and strewed Mandara flowers over him. And from a cloudless sky there fell a shower full of lotuses and water-lilies, and perfumed with sandalwood." Buddha Karita 1:27, 36, 38, 40
His life was threatened by a king "who was advised to destroy the child, as he was liable to overthrow him".
This is not correct. Gautama was prophesied that he would leave the palace of his father the king and become a holy man, which is what later happened. He left the seclusion of the palace and saw the poverty of his subjects and this is where he then starts his career as a spiritual leader and holy man.
"Then said the king, 'What shall my son see to make him retire from the world?' 'The four signs.' 'What four?' 'A decrepit old man, a diseased man, a dead man, and a monk.' 'From this time forth,' said the king, 'let no such persons be allowed to come near my son. It will never do for my son to become a Buddha. What I would wish to see is my son exercising sovereign rule and authority...' And when he had so spoken he placed guards for a distance of a quarter of a league in each of the four directions, in order that none of these four kinds of men might come within sight of his son." Jataka 1:57
Was of royal lineage.
This is only half-true. Gautama was a prince born into a royal family. Yet, Mary, whilst of distant royal lineage, was a peasant and Joseph was a carpenter, hardly royalty. Many other Jews at the time were also of distant royal decent making this parallel rather meaningless.
Taught in the temple at age 12.
This is incorrect. The Buddhacarita says that Gautama was a prodigy able to learn the "sciences" in days whereas for others it would take years.
Crushed a serpent's head (as was traditionally said of Jesus) and was tempted by Mara, the "Evil One," when fasting.
This is mostly wrong. Crushing a serpents head has never "traditionally been said of Jesus" EVER. Genesis 3:15 is a metaphorical Messianic prophecy which refers to Jesus' spiritual battle with Satan. A late medieval text has Gautama slaying a great snake, but that is as far as it gets. It is true that Gautama was tempted by a demon named Mara, although the title "Evil One" is not used anywhere, and Gautama was tempted with fear and pleasure.
Was baptised with water, with the "Spirit of God" or "Holy Ghost" present.
There is no verification of these in primary Buddhist texts.
Performed miracles and wonders, healed the sick, fed 500 men with a "small basket of cakes," and walked on water.
There is no evidence for the basket of cakes story. General miracle performing is a universal religious tradition ascribed to important religious figures making this parallel meaningless. There is also no evidence that Gautama is said to have walked on water.
Abolished idolatry, was a "sower of the world," and preached the "establishment of a kingdom of righteousness".
The first claim does not matter as Jesus never did this. The temptation of idolatry had long since left Judaism and the Israelites. In fact, the Pharisees accused Jesus of blasphemy against God, which is odd if they were idol worshippers. There are absolutely no evidence for the other claims.
Followers were obliged to take vows of poverty and to renounce the world.
Whilst Gautama’s followers were ascetics, vows of poverty were characteristics of later Christians, not the original Disciples.
Was transfigured on a mount, when it was said his face "shone as the brightness of the sun and moon."
Some Buddhists have drawn parallels between the transfiguration of Jesus and a radiance that is said to shine fort from Gautama as a sign of his spiritual evolution, yet there is no evidence this ever occurred on a mount. Gautama’s change was an inward change that happened to all men, whilst Jesus' was transfigured with the glory of God.
In some traditions, died on a cross.
Absolutely no primary Buddhist text or document that says this. In fact, we are told he dies of natural causes at the age of 80. His followers accompany him to a river and provide him with a couch.
"'Be so good as to spread me a couch... I am weary and wish to lie down...' Then the [Buddha] fell into a deep meditation, and having passed through the four jhanas, entered Nirvana." Source
Was resurrected, as his coverings were unrolled from his body and his tomb was opened by supernatural powers. Ascended bodily to Nirvana or "heaven".
Firstly, Buddha was cremated, not entombed or buried. Source
"And they burned the remains of the Blessed One as they would do to the body of a king of kings." Source
In addition, Nirvana is not a place once can "ascend" to, but a state of being. The closest you get is a story that comes from a Chinese translation of the Mahamaya Sutra, in which Gautama opens his coffin to speak, and then sits back down and closes the lid.
Of these, only Lord was ever applied to Gautama, and Lord is a formal title applied to many personages and deities. Ancient equivalent of 'Sir'.
Came to fulfil, not to destroy, the law.
Obviously not the Jewish law, making this parallel meaningless.
Is to "in the latter days" to restore order and to judge the dead.
Again, partially incorrect. The future Buddha, called Maitreya, will be a different person born into the world.
This one actually fares better for mythicists yet, as with all the other "Pagan Christs", the similarities simply wither away. Trouble is, all parallels are drawn from the Bhagavata Purana, which is dated to the 5th century AD and is actually believed to be a rip-off of what Christian missionaries were preaching at the time to combat Christianity in India. The Hindu texts have admittedly been altered and added to over the centuries. Many comparisons of the newer and older texts regarding the story of Krishna reveal many tales being added in later texts known as the Puranas (400-1000 A.D.), Bhagavata (400-1000 A.D.), and the Harivamsa, (100-1000 A.D.). These texts have been proven by scholars to have been written after the life of Jesus.
Mythicists claim: -
• He was Born of the virgin Devaki or “Divine One” on December 25th
• His birth was signalled by a star in the east and attended by angels and shepherds, at which time he was presented with spices.
• He was persecuted by a tyrant who ordered the slaughter of thousands of infants.
• He was anointed on the head by a women he then healed.
• He worked miracles and wonders, raised the dead and healed lepers, the deaf and the blind. He gave his disciples the abilities to work miracles.
• Krishna used parables to teach the people about charity and love, and he lived poor and loved the poor.
• He castigated the clergy, charging them with ambition and hypocrisy.
• Krishna’s most beloved disciple was Arjuna (John).
• Krishna was killed around the age of 30, and the sun darkened at his death.
• He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven in the sight of all.
• Krishna is to return to judge the dead, riding on a white horse, and to do battle with the “Prince of Evil”, who will desolate the Earth.
• He was transfigured in front of his disciples
• His path was "strewn with branches".
• In some traditions he was crucified on a tree between two thieves
• He was depicted on a cross with nail-holes in his feet, as well as having a heart emblem on his clothes.
• Krishna is the lion of the tribe of Saki.
• He was deemed the "Son of God," and "our Lord and Saviour," who came to Earth to day for man's salvation.
• He was the second person of the trinity.
• His disciples purportedly bestowed upon him the title "Jezeus" or "Jeseus," meaning "pure essence".
Born of the virgin Devaki or "Divine One" on December 25th.
A virgin birth is never attributed to Krishna. Krishna was born when he was transferred from the mind of his uncle to his mother. Yet, his mother had had seven children beforehand, so she was obviously not a virgin. Lastly, Krishna was born in Summer, and the Dec 12th parallel is meaningless anyway.
"You have been born of the divine Devaki and Vasudeva for the protection of Brahma on earth." Mahabharata Bk 12, XLVIII
His birth was signalled by a star in the east and attended by angels and shepherds, at which time he was presented with spices.
I guess the rough equivalent of angels in Hinduism were present, yet there were cowherds, not shepherds. And there were flowers from heaven, not spices.
He was persecuted by a tyrant who ordered the slaughter of thousands of infants.
This is the first parallel that is actually completely true. Although, the Hindu texts tell us Krishna's parents never had a chance to flee and were imprisoned by Kamsa so he could kill Krishna once he was born:
“What faults had [Vasudeva] and his wife Devaki committed? Why did Kamsa kill the six infant sons of Devaki? And for what reason did [Vishnu] incarnate Himself as the son of Vasudeva in the prison house of Kamsa?” Bhagavata, Bk 4, I:4-5 and Source
He was anointed on the head with oil by a woman he then healed.
Close, but no cigar. A woman with a hunchback offered him ointments, but he healed her instead.
He worked miracles and wonders, raised the dead and healed lepers, the deaf and the blind. He gave his disciples the ability to work miracles.
True, both he and his followers performed miracles.
Krishna used parables to teach the people about charity and love, and he lived poor and he loved the poor.
Whilst he did teach, and love and charity were amongst his subjects, Krishna was not poor and did not use parables.
He castigated the clergy, charging them with ambition and hypocrisy.
Krishna criticised the priestly Hindu caste for being too concerned with their rituals. Not really the same thing.
Krishna's most beloved disciple was Arjuna (John).
There is absolutely no similarities whatsoever between the two names.
Krishna was killed around the age of 30, and the sun darkened at his death.
Although there were "certain astrological omens", Krishna was well over 100 when he died. No deal.
He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven in the sight of all.
Krishna ascended without his body so no resurrection, and, as aforementioned, Nirvana is not a place and nothing like the Christian concept of Heaven.
"A fierce hunter of the name of Jara then came there, desirous of deer. The hunter, mistaking [Krishna], who was stretched on the earth in high Yoga, for a deer, pierced him at the heel with a shaft and quickly came to that spot for capturing his prey He [the hunter] touched the feet of [Krishna]. The high-souled one comforted him and then ascended upwards, filling the entire welkin with splendour... [Krishna] reached his own inconceivable region." Mahabharata, Book 16, 4
Krishna is to return to judge the dead, riding on a white horse, and to do battle with the "Prince of Evil," who will desolate the Earth.
Krishna's future incarnation, Kalki, will return on a white horse and kill everyone, but that is as close as it gets.
The following are completely false: -
He was transfigured in front of his disciples
His path was "strewn with branches".
In some traditions he was crucified on a tree between two thieves
He was depicted on a cross with nail-holes in his feet, as well as having a heart emblem on his clothes.
Krishna is the lion of the tribe of Saki.
He was deemed the "Son of God," and "our Lord and Saviour," who came to Earth to day for man's salvation.
He was the second person of the trinity. (He was actually one of ten avatars of Vishnu.)
His disciples purportedly bestowed upon him the title "Jezeus" or "Jeseus," meaning "pure essence".
Furthermore, whatever parallels do exist are most likely copied from Christianity.
"...[T]here can be no doubt that the Hindus borrowed the tales [from Christianity], but not the name." - Benjamin Walker, The Hindu World: An Encyclopaedic Survey of Hinduism, Vol. 1 (New York: Praeger, 1983), 240-241.
Horus was the Egyptian sky god (not the sun god as many mythicists claim). This one is particularly interesting as mythicists frequently falsely attribute things to Horus that are actually taken from tales about Osiris. As usual, searching through primary documents and the like has yielded no results.
Mythicists typically claim: -
• Was born of the virgin Isis-Meri on December 25th in a cave/manger with his birth being announced by a star in the east.
• His earthly father was named “Seb” (Joseph).
• He was of royal decent.
• At age 12 he was a child teacher in the Temple, and at 30, he was baptised, having disappeared for 18 years. Was baptised in the river Eridanus or Iaurutana (Jordan) by Anup the Baptiser" (John the Baptist) who was decapitated. He had 12 disciples, two of which were his "witnesses" and were named "Anup" and "AAn" (the two "Johns"), was "the Fisher" and was associated with the Fish ("Ichthys), Lamb and Lion.
• Performed miracles, exorcised demons, and raised El-Lazarus (“El-Osiris”) from the dead.
• Horus walked on water.
• His personal epitaph was “Iusa”, “the everbecoming son” of “Ptah” the “Father”.
• He delivered a "Sermon on the Mount" and his followers recorded the "Sayings of Iusa"
He was transfigured on the mount.
He was crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb and was resurrected.
• Titles: Way, the Truth the Light; Messiah; God's Anointed Son; Son of Man; Good Shepherd; Lamb of God; Word made flesh; Word of truth.
• He came to fulfil the law.
• Was called the “KRST” or “anointed One”.
• Was supposed to reign for a thousand years.
Born of the virgin Isis-Meri in December 25th in a cave/manger with his birth being announced by a star in the east.
Absolutely none of this can be confirmed. Horus was born in a swamp and there is no mention of a star in the east. Horus was not born of a virgin as Isis had sex with Osiris' dead body by revifying Osiris' penis.
"[Isis] made to rise up the helpless members [penis] of him whose heart was at rest, she drew from him his essence [sperm], and she made therefrom an heir [Horus]" Source and source.
Dec 25th is of no relevance and Horus was born in Khoiak (November) anyway.
An appeal is made to an inscription and carving in the Luxor temple, yet this shows the god Amun impregnating a Queen with the future Pharaoh. Horus and Isis are nowhere to be found. There is absolutely no similarity between Meri and Mary. Meri is translated from the glyph myr, and means “beloved”. Therefore, this either was a title of Isis, i.e. beloved Isis, or was a term for Horus or Osiris, i.e. beloved of Isis. The Hebrew for beloved is David.
His earthly father was named "Seb" ("Joseph")
Completely false. Not only was Osiris Horus' father, Seb was the earth-god not "earthly". Seb was said to be Osiris' father and thus Horus' GRANDFATHER, yet that is the closest it gets.
He was of royal decent.
Obviously true, as Horus was identified with the living Pharaoh. Yet this is irrelevant as many Jew's around Jesus' time were descendants of David.
At age 12 he was a child teacher in the Temple, and at 30, he was baptised, having disappeared for 18 years. Was baptised in the river Eridanus or Iaurutana (Jordan) by Anup the Baptiser" (John the Baptist) who was decapitated. He had 12 disciples, two of which were his "witnesses" and were named "Anup" and "AAn" (the two "Johns"), was "the Fisher" and was associated with the Fish ("Ichthys), Lamb and Lion.
This is all completely false and simply made up. Anup is actually a misspelling of Anubis WHO WAS AN EMBALMER. Also, whilst Horus had a variety of followers, there is no group of 12 anywhere.
Performed miracles, exorcised demons, and raised El-Azarus ("El-Osiris") from the dead.
Complete nonsense. Miracles and exorcisms are what we would expect from any miracle worker. As for raising Osiris from the dead, this is completely absurd. In the Egyptian texts, Osiris was revived by Isis, not Horus and Osiris has never been known with the prefix El. Lazarus comes from the Hebrew name Eleazar and there is absolutely no connection to the name Osiris whatsoever. Lastly, Osiris was not even raised from the dead, but stayed dead (this is important to note for later on).
Horus walked on water.
Wrong. He was thrown into the water, but that is as close as it gets.
His personal epithet was "Iusa" "the everbecoming son" of "Ptah" the "Father".
Complete fabrication. The name Iusa does not exist in Egyptian. Furthermore, Jesus is a Greek name derived from the known Semitic name Yeshua.
He delivered a "Sermon on the Mount" and his followers recorded the "Sayings of Iusa"
He was transfigured on the mount.
He was crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb and was resurrected.
No evidence can be found for any of these claims.
Titles: Way, the Truth the Light; Messiah; God's Anointed Son; Son of Man; Good Shepherd; Lamb of God; Word made flesh; Word of truth.
Absolutely none of these can be found. Titles that do exist include: Great God, Chief of the Powers, Master of Heaven, Avenger of his Father (since Horus kills Osiris’ killer, Set).
He came to fulfil the law.
Obviously not the Jewish covenant.
Was called "the KRST" or "Anointed One".
Completely false. KRST was the Egyptian word for burial and there is no evidence to link it to the Greek title Christ (Christos) or the Hebrew title Messiah (Mashiah).
Was supposed to reign one thousand years.
As usual, completely false.
Osiris was the Egyptian god of the dead (this is important for some of the claims later) and the father of Horus, yet he yielded less results than Horus did. Osiris is actually one of the most popular deities likened to Jesus to try and prove some kind of parallels and copycat thesis, yet the parallels here are among the most scant.
Mythicists usually claim: -
• Had well over 200 divine names, including Lord of Lords, King of Kings, God of gods, Resurrection and the Life, Good Shepherd, Eternity and Everlastingness, the god who "made men and women to be born again.
• Coming was announced by Three Wise Men: the stars Mintaka, Anilam, and Altinak in the belt of Orion, which point directly to Osiris' star in the east, Sirius, signification of his birth.
• Was a devoured Host. His flesh was eaten in the form of communion cakes of wheat, the 'plant of Truth'.
• The 23rd Psalm copied an Egyptian text appealing to Osiris the Good Shepherd to lead the deceased to the 'green pastures' and 'still waters' of the nefer-nefer land, to restore the soul and body, and give protection in the valley of the shadow of death...
• The Lord's Prayer was prefigured by an Egyptian hymn to Osiris-Amen beginning 'O Amen, O Amen, who are in heaven.' Amen was also invoked at the end of every prayer.
• The teachings of Osiris and Jesus are wonderfully alike. Many passages are identically the same, word for word.
• As the god of the vine, a great travelling teacher who civilised the world. Ruler and judge of the dead.
• In his passion, Osiris was plotted against and killed by Set and the "72."
• Osiris' resurrection served to provide hope to all that they may do likewise and become eternal.
Had well over 200 divine names, including Lord of Lords, King of Kings, God of gods, Resurrection and the Life, Good Shepherd, Eternity and Everlastingness, the god who "made men and women to be born again.
Wrong as usual. Titles ascribed to Osiris are: Lord of All, the Good Being (this is the most common title of Osiris), Lord of the Underworld, Lord/King of Eternity, Ruler of the Dead, Lord of the West, Great One, "he who takes seat", the Begetter, the Ram, "great Word" (as in, "the word of what cometh into being and what is not" - a reflection of Ancient ideas of the creative power of speech, found like-wise in the Greek Logos and the Jewish figure of Wisdom), "Chief of the spirits"; ruler of everlastingness, "living god," "God above the gods". All either general titles found of any leading deity or titles reflecting his lordship over the dead. No titles claimed by mythicists have ever been found.
Coming was announced by Three Wise Men: the stars Mintaka, Anilam, and Altinak in the belt of Orion, which point directly to Osiris' star in the east, Sirius, signification of his birth.
Whilst some scholars believe Orion was connected to Osiris, nothing has ever been mentioned of wise men or a star in the east in any Egyptian literature.
Was a devoured Host. His flesh was eaten in the form of communion cakes of wheat, the 'plant of Truth'.
Nothing like this has ever been discovered or reported.
The 23rd Psalm copied an Egyptian text appealing to Osiris the Good Shepherd to lead the deceased to the 'green pastures' and 'still waters' of the nefer-nefer land, to restore the soul and body, and give protection in the valley of the shadow of death...
No commentator in Egyptian religion or Old Testament literature has ever noticed this. Osiris may have been known as a Shepherd, as this imagery was common in the Ancient Near East, often applied to leaders in Egypt and Mesopotamia (even Greece later on). Depictions of Osiris do show him with a Shepherd Crook, as well as flail, yet the Crook was something held by all Pharaoh's as a leadership symbol. The title "Good Shepherd" however, has never been applied to Osiris.
The Lord's Prayer was prefigured by an Egyptian hymn to Osiris-Amen beginning 'O Amen, O Amen, who are in heaven.' Amen was also invoked at the end of every prayer.
How this is parallel to Jesus is unclear. The Hebrew word 'Amen' has never been used as a salutation as it simply means 'let it be' and so can never have been "invoked". There are also no etymological similarities or connection between the two in their original languages, only in English.
The teachings of Osiris and Jesus are wonderfully alike. Many passages are identically the same, word for word.
If so, someone needs to put them next to each other and prove it as Egyptian scholars do not even seem to be aware of it. This claim is not specific enough to address further.
As the god of the vine, a great travelling teacher who civilised the world. Ruler and judge of the dead.
Again, too non-specific. Osiris taught winemaking, agriculture and laws, proper worship and travelled the world teaching these things, but is nowhere called 'god of the vine'. He is ruler and judge of the dead, but Jesus is a God of the living. At most, this represents what would be expected of any supreme deity, to rule and judge.
In his passion, Osiris was plotted against and killed by Set and the "72."
There is no passion of Osiris whatsoever. The event alluded to is when Set tricks Osiris getting into a box by having his 72 other guests, who are in on it, to lie in the box and then get out. When it is Osiris' turn, he is shut and trapped inside. Set nails it shut and throws it into the river. Not really a "passion".
This is a complete misuse of terminology. Osiris was not resurrected, as he was never returned to life. His body was restored but he stayed dead and became ruler of the dead, as the dead were not permitted to live in the land of the living. Resurrection is when a body is restored back to life and in Judeo-Christian theology, strictly defined as the return of a dead body to life into a glorified body.
Osiris is either dismembered by Set in battle or sealed in a chest and drowned in the Nile. Isis then pieces Osiris' body back together to conceive an heir that will avenge Osiris' death (although Osiris is never actually resurrected as he is forbidden to return to the world of the living). Source and Source
"[Set] brought a shapely and decorated chest, which he had caused to be made according to the measurements of the king's body... Set proclaimed that he would gift the chest unto him whose body fitted its proportions with exactness... Then Osiris came forward. He lay down within the chest, and he filled it in every part. But dearly was his triumph won in that dark hour which was his doom. Ere he could raise his body, the evil followers of Set sprang suddenly forward and shut down the lid, which they nailed fast and soldered with lead. So the richly decorated chest became the coffin of the good king Osiris, from whom departed the breath of life." Source
Attis of Phrygia is another amusing attempt by mythicists to try and prove Christianity stole from Paganism. The reason why this feeble attempt is so amusing is because modern Scholars believe that precisely the opposite happened. The Attis cult changed its teachings and practice, because of the challenge of Christianity.
Mythicists claim: -
• Attis was born on December 25th of the virgin Nana.
• He was considered the saviour who was slain for all humankind.
• His body as bread was eaten by his worshippers.
• His priests were “eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven”.
• He was both the Divine Son and the Father.
• On "Black Friday," he was crucified on a tree, from which his holy blood ran down to redeem the earth.
• He descended into the underworld.
• After three days, Attis was resurrected on March 25th (as tradition held of Jesus) as the "Most High God".
• Attis was represented as a man tied to a tree, at the foot of which was a lamb, and, without doubt also as a man nailed to a tree..."
• Followers of Attis practiced the taurobolium, or bull-sacrifice, in which the initiate was "born again" when he was bathed in the blood of the bull (or sheep).
Born on December 25th of the virgin Nana.
Again, Dec 25th is of no relevance. I still cannot understand how mythicists fail to realise this date was added well over three hundred years after the writing of the Gospels. If that was not enough, this date was not even associated with Attis. Attis was not born of a virgin either, but a result of artificial insemination. Zeus saw Mt. Agdus, which looked like the goddess Rhea. Zeus then got excited and ejaculated on the mountain resulting in a wild androgynous creature named Agdistis emerging from the mountain. The gods did not like Agdistis so Dionysus drugged him with wine and then tied a rope around his male genitalia and tied the other end around a tree. Agdistis awoke in a panic and ran off, tearing off his genitals. A tree then grows from the spilled blood. Much later, Nana happens by, picks some fruit and lays it on her lap. It then disappears and she finds herself pregnant with Attis. In other words, she is impregnated by some fruit from a tree that grew from Agdistis' blood and semen, which was the result of Zeus masturbating onto a mountain.
He was considered the saviour who was slain for all humankind.
This is simply false. Attis was no saviour and was never recognised as such. The closest thing we can get is attributed to the writings of Damscius (480 -550 A.D.) who had a dream about a festival in where Attis is celebrated returning from Hades. Significantly after the writings of the Gospels.
His body as bread was eaten by his worshippers.
This is based off Freke and Gandy, who cite someone called Godwin, who never even suggested this in his writings. It has been revealed that worshippers did eat and drink as part of festivals, yet since bread and wine were forbidden during Attis festivals, it unlikely this is what they ate and drank.
His priests were "eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven".
Attis' priests were eunuchs, yet not for the kingdom of heaven. They did so in imitation of Attis, who did so to himself out of grief. Attis cult priests also cross-dressed, flogged themselves and danced themselves into a frenzy.
He was both the Divine Son and the Father.
This does not match any Christian view so it hard to see why people think this is a parallel at all. If anything, Attis is a divine grandson, as his father was an androgynous creature who was fathered by Zeus. Attis is also never a father in any story attributed to him.
On "Black Friday," he was crucified on a tree, from which his holy blood ran down to redeem the earth.
There is no verification for any of this. Attis died under a tree, but not crucified on one. There is no reference that indicates that the day he died was a Friday either. Whilst there was blood involved, all it did was produce some flowers.
He descended into the underworld.
Whether Jesus actually did this is open to discussion. Either way, ancient legends state that everybody that died went to the underworld, so Attis' case is not unique.
Various claims involving death and resurrection are inexorably linked together, yet there is absolutely no evidence of a life after death story for Attis. In one story he is about get married. Agdistis shows up, everyone goes insane, and the bride dies. Attis and the father of the bride castrate themselves. Attis dies. Agdistis feels sorry and asks Zeus to do something. Since Zeus is unable to bring Attis back to life, he preserves Attis' body, and allows for his hair to grow continually and his little finger to move perpetually. In another story Cybele falls in love with Attis but Attis betrays her for a nymph. Cybele kills the nymph, Attis goes insane, and kills himself via castration. In another story, Attis marries Cybele, who is the daughter of a king. The king finds out, has Attis killed and makes sure the body is never found. No resurrection. Anything remotely similar to a resurrection does not appear until AFTER Christianity.
Also, as with Dec 25th, March 25th was a date added centuries after the Gospels by the Roman Catholic Church with no Biblical or Apostolic verification whatsoever. Based on information dated to 354 AD, there were six Roman celebrations attributed to Attis, with one occurring on March 22nd. During this celebration a tree would be felled and an effigy of Attis would be placed on a tree to symbolise his death under a tree. The matter of affixing the effigy to the tree was a matter of practically as it was not simply going to float along with the procession. There was a festival called the Hilaria that began on the 22nd. The 23rd was a day of mourning, on the 24th the priests would flagellate themselves and on the 25th some form of celebration regarding "resurrection" occurred. Yet Hilaria was not practiced before the 3rd Century AD. Writings dating to around 350 AD refer to a celebration of Attis death and rebirth based on the cycles of vegetation but that is as close as it gets.
Followers of Attis practiced the taurobolium, or bull-sacrifice, in which the initiate was "born again" when he was bathed in the blood of the bull (or sheep).
The taurbolium did not arise until centuries after the start of Christianity. Whilst there are bull sacrifices associated as early as the 2nd century BC, none are connected to Attis or Cybele until 2nd century AD and none are described as having "saving power" until around the 4th century AD.
Dionysus, also known as Bacchus, was the Greek god of wine. The majority of the so-called parallels are drawn from a play entitled The Bacchae, by the Greek playwright Euripides. Again, there are no parallels.
Mythicists often claim the following: -
• Dionysus was born of a virgin on December 25th and, as the Holy Child, was placed in a manger.
• He was a travelling teacher who performed miracles.
• He "rode in a triumphal procession on an ass."
• He was a sacred king killed and eaten in a Eucharistic ritual for fecundity and purification.
• Dionysus rose from the dead on March 25th.
• He was the god of the Vine, and turned water into wine.
• He was called "King of Kings" and "God of gods."
• He was considered the "only begotten son," "Saviour," "Redeemer," "Sin Bearer," "Anointed One," and the "Alpha and Omega."
• The trials of Jesus and Dionysus are the same.
Born of a virgin on December 25th and, as the Holy Child, was placed in a manger.
I have mentioned countless times how the Dec 25th birth date is of no relevance. As for the virgin birth and manger parallels, this is complete fabrication and not even remotely similar to the Dionysus legend in The Bacchae. Zeus impregnates Semele. Hera grows jealous and persuades Semele to ask Zeus to reveal his true form, which cause her to die. Hermes swoops down and saves the foetus and Zeus hides Dionysus by sewing him into his thigh. Dionysus then emerges from Zeus' thigh. There is no evidence that Dionysus was ever called the "Holy Child" and this was title given to Jesus centuries after the Gospels anyway and so is irrelevant. Jesus was never born in a cave. This is based on later tradition. Freke and Gandy claimed that the word translated as stables (katalemna) actually means temporary shelter or cave, but the word in question is what is translated into 'inn'. This word is found also found in Mark 14:14 which, according to Freke and Gandy would be translated thusly, "And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the temporary shelter or cave, where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples'.
He was a travelling teacher who performed miracles.
These are both universals to be expected of any major religious figure, especially a divine one. Dionysus travelled the whole globe spreading his message, but Jesus only travelled around Palestine. Besides, this was the only means to spread ones message apart from sending Disciples and Jesus did both. Dionysus was also not a teacher; he went around driving his devotees mad.
He "rode in a triumphal procession on an ass."
We have pictures of Dionysus riding a mule in a procession with satyrs waving branches of ivy, but this is typical of any kingly figure. The ivy branches were, however, cultic instruments, whilst the palms waved before Jesus were symbolic of Israelite ethnicity.
He was a sacred king killed and eaten in a Eucharistic ritual for fecundity and purification.
The only thing that comes remotely close to this is a myth where Dionysus is torn apart by the Titans who then boil and eat everything apart from his heart, which is then placed into a new body by Zeus. Hardly a parallel to the Lord's Supper.
Dionysus rose from the dead on March 25th.
March 25th date is of no relevance and this date is never associated with Dionysus. There is also no tale where he is killed and rises again. The closest tale is the one where he is recreated from his old heart as described above. Not a resurrection.
He was the god of the Vine, and turned water into wine.
The only source that mentions this comes from after the Gospels. Mythicists may appear to priestly rituals involving replacing water with wine or filling empty jars with wine, yet nothing else comes close.
He was called "King of Kings" and "God of gods."
There is absolutely zero evidence for this claim. These titles don’t even suit Dionysus as Zeus was the head of the Greek pantheon.
He was considered the "only begotten son," "Saviour," "Redeemer," "Sin Bearer," "Anointed One," and the "Alpha and Omega."
Of all of these only saviour fits the bill and this comes from a single line in The Bacchae when, at Dionysus' appearance, his followers shout "We are saved". But from what? Certainly not sin and damnation.
He was identified with the Ram or Lamb. His sacrificial title of "Dendrites" or "Young Man of the Tree" intimates he was hung on a tree or crucified.
There is absolutely no evidence for these titles whatsoever. Dionysus was born with Ram's horns in one story and associated with the figure of the bull in The Bacchae, though he usually takes the form of a goat.
In the Bacchae, a play that features Dionysus, the god comes to earth and takes on human form.
Only half right. He disguises himself as a human priest, but this is so he can play a massive prank on the city of Thebes and King Pentheus for not honouring him.
Quoting the admonition of John the Baptist that the one who follows him would take winnowing-fan in hand and separate wheat from chaff.
This is only partially true. The fan was a common symbol of separating usefulness from un-usefulness. Whilst Dionysus uses a fan, his is a form of basket/shovel used to store fruit and babies whilst the fan in the Old Testament was used as an instrument of purification. The fan used by John the Baptist is symbolic of purification through judgement whilst in the Dionysus cult it had connotations with fertility and purification via new birth.
Dionysus is "gloriously transfigured" in The Bacchae".
Not even close. Dionysus reveals his divine form to everyone, whereas Jesus changes as people are watching. An equivocation of terms.
This last claim is broken down into several sub-claims associated with the main claim.
They look the same.
Mythicists describe Dionysus as a silent stranger with long hair and a beard who brings a new religion. Unfortunately for mythicists, long hair and a beard describes the majority of the male population of the Ancient Near East. Unfortunately, for mythicists, Dionysus is far from quiet and engages King Pentheus in extensive riposte. Pentheus also notes that Dionysus is quite attractive and looks womanly. How on earth is this anything like Jesus' trial before Pilate?
They act the same.
Mythicists claim that King Pentheus arrests, berates and condemns Dionysus who passively allowed himself to be captured. Apart from the fact that Dionysus allowed himself to be captured so he could humiliate Pentheus and then get him killed. Then there is the fact Jesus remains silent and Dionysus is confrontational.
Jesus said of his persecutors, "They know not what they are doing"; Dionysus said to Pentheus, "You know not what you are doing, nor what you are saying, nor who you are."
Except each saying has a completely different context. Jesus said what he said on the cross to the Father as a plea for forgiveness for the people. Dionysus, on the other hand, said what he said as he was being led off as a taunt/threat and was said to Pentheus alone.
Jesus warns that judgement will come on Jerusalem; Dionysus departs from Pentheus threatening acts of Divine vengeance.
What is referred to in this regard is two lines from The Bacchae.
"Pentheus means 'Sorrow'. The name fits you well." and "...Dionysus, who you say is dead, will pursue you and take his revenge for the sacrilege."
As opposed to the lament upon Jerusalem, which is well grounded in Old Testament prophecy.
Jesus was given a crown of thorns; Dionysus, a crown of Ivy.
Except Dionysus wore a crown of ivy at all times, and so did his worshippers. This is no parallel to the single and unwilling use of a crown of thorns by Jesus, which was placed on him as a form of mockery.
Jesus was dressed in purple by Roman soldiers, so Dionysus was also dressed in purple robes.
However, Jesus was dressed in purple momentarily and out of mockery. This parallel is superficial and meaningless as purple was a universal symbol in Ancient times of royalty.
Jesus was given wine to drink mixed with gall, Dionysus' followers ritually imbibed with wine.
Wine was a standard drink of the day, as water was usually contaminated. Jesus was offered wine and declined. Besides, this is no comparison to the Eucharist as Dionysus drank wine because it was associated with him because it, like Dionysus, was said to bring sadness or laughter.
Jesus was crucified, while in The Bacchae, Pentheus is "lifted up onto a tree," and in a Sicilian myth another foe of Dionysus' is crucified, which suggests that in some Mystery traditions, Dionysus was crucified or hung on a tree.
This is by far the worst claimed parallel. This is like saying, because there is a story where Abraham Lincoln is assassinated, then that must mean there is a story where John Wilkes Booth is assassinated. Crucifixion was the most common form of execution in the Ancient world during the reign of the Roman empire (the T and t shape crosses were actually Roman inventions) which would explain if an opponent of Dionysus' was crucified. As for Pentheus, "lifted up on a tree" , in The Bacchae, Dionysus tricks the King into cross-dressing and climbing a tree to spy on the women who have run amok in a killing spree. Dionysus points out Pentheus' location to the women who tear the tree down and tear Pentheus limb from limb and has his head torn off by his own mother.
Miscellaneous Figures: -
Here is a list of random deities thrown in when the others fail.
From all the information on Adonis, there is very little that could be construed as parallels. Adonis does die, but is killed by a wild boar by accident. There is absolutely no mention of a resurrection or salvation theology whatsoever. The virgin birth claim is likewise empty and the only thing that can be construed as a communion was when followers of Adonis tried to catch his ashes in a cup between slices of bread.
According to the legend, Alcestis agrees to die for her husband after he strikes a deal with the gods.
When the time comes, Alcestis is described as being in bed. The gods are touched by her devotion, take pity on her, and reunite her with her husband.
Alcides of Thebes
This is actually another name for Hercules. There is no evidence he was considered a "redeemer". He was not born of a virgin but when Zeus impregnated Alcmene whilst he was disguised as her husband.
Apollonius of Tyana
This figure is not even a pagan deity but a travelling philosopher. Whilst Apollonius lived not long after Jesus, what "Jesus-like" aspects of him did not arise until 217 AD. Furthermore, the earliest reference to Apollonius is dated 100 years after his lifetime.
Baal is sometimes made out to be a "dying and rising god", yet the tablets that describe Baal do not show a resurrection AT ALL. Most of the tablets about Baal are lost anyway.
Balder is a Norse deity who did not arise until a thousand years AFTER the Gospels.
Bali is said to have been forced down (bodily) into the underworld after being deceived by
Vamana, an avatar of Vishnu. In some accounts, Bali is said to have been released and granted kingship. Either way, no crucifixion occurs.
Beddru of Japan
This figure is simply made up as there is no such figure in Japanese mythology.
Often associated with Zeus, I could find no mention of the Babylonian Bel experiencing death.
An Irish hero. Unfortunately for mythicists, excessively late to have inspired Christianity. Also, Ireland is thousands of miles away from Palestine.
Crite of Chaldea
As with Beddru, completely made up by mythicists.
This figure was the son of Svarog. He superseded his father to become the head of the pantheon of gods. He was served by two maidens who represented the auroras, his uncle and the moon. He was devoured by wolves and in some stories he gets married and his wife begets the stars. Nothing like Jesus whatsoever.
This name is actually another name for the Buddha.
Hesus of the Druids
Hesus is claimed to have been born of a virgin and crucified hundreds of years before Christ. Unfortunately, scholars of Celtic mythology know absolutely nothing about this. He was a god who liked a particularly gruesome form of human sacrifice where victims would be suspended from a tree and ritually wounded.
Iao and Wittoba
I can find no information regarding the deaths of these two figures in any original and/or published
In one account, Indra is swallowed alive by the serpent, Vritra, who later spits him out at the command of the other gods. Because he is saved, there is no death account concerning Indra, let alone by crucifixion.
Orpheus is said to have been killed by Dionysus' frenzied maenads after refusing to worship any god
but Apollo. However, no crucifixion and no resurrection.
Several claims have actually been made of Prometheus.
He descended from heaven as God incarnate to save humankind.
False. He was a demigod, a Titan, a race at enmity with the Greek Olympian gods. He never saved humankind either. He provided them with fire and other gifts.
He had a special friend, "Petraeus" (Peter), the fisherman, who deserted him.
The only source that indicate this is true dates to the 19th century. Petraeus is a minor character in a play about Prometheus.
He was crucified, suffered and rose from the dead.
This is completely false. He was not crucified but shackled to a crag where every night a bird would tear his flesh and eat his liver and every day it would grow back. He could not have risen from the dead as he was an immortal.
This is quite an amusing candidate as mythicists would have to prove how New World ideas managed to get all the way from Ancient Mesoamerica to the Ancient Near East in Jesus' time, especially when the Americas had not even been discovered yet. The only sources we have on Quetzalcoatl are from Christian missionaries from 1600s AD. Anyway, onto claims.
Was born of a virgin.
Quetzalcoatl was the son of two other deities, Coatlicue and Mixcoatl.
Was represented by three crosses, one larger and two smaller, and was depicted as bearing the cross as a burden, and with nail holes in his feet.
The closest we get is a scene where he has his heart extracted on an X shaped (not T shaped) cruciform device by two other deities. Five little images of Nanahuatzin, the dead and cooked god of lechery and the evening sun are depicted emerging from his four limbs and heart. This is said to be a scene where he transforms into Xolotl-Nanahuatzin.
Was designated the morning star.
This is true but does not explain Jesus' titular use of "morning star" and that Quetzalcoatl was believed to be the actual embodiment of Venus.
I can find no mention of Quirinus experiencing death. He disappeared, causing some to blame the senate for his death, yet regardless, no crucifixion is said to have occurred.
Romulus and Remus
The legendary founders of Rome. I have no idea what similarities there are between them and Jesus. One person I spoke to said they were virgin born, yet Roman mythology says they were fathered by Mars. Other than that, I have found no similarities whatsoever.
An ancient Sumerian deity, this is perhaps the oldest deity accused of being what Christians stole their ideas for Jesus from. Some claim he was a saviour god and annually died and rose again. He is claimed to be known as a shepherd and was said to born in a cave in Bethlehem.
These claims, however, are completely nonsensical. Tammuz was known as a shepherd because he actually was a shepherd. As for his death and resurrection, what tales there are of this particular aspect say that this occurs annually. He was not born of a virgin, but emerged from the Earth. The story about his birth in Bethlehem comes from a 4th century AD writer.
Zoar of the Bonzes
This figure is also completely made up.
Parallels Are Meaningless
Coincidences between Jesus and other figures can be explained due to sheer probability.
As a modern example, look at the coincidences between the historical figures of Kennedy and Lincoln taken from here:
1. Lincoln was elected to congress in 1846. Kennedy was elected to congress 1946 (Whereas Kennedy had instant success in legislative and executive politics, Lincoln suffered many defeats).
2. Lincoln was elected president in 1860. Kennedy was elected president in 1960. (Considering presidential elections were held every four years, this only brings the odds to 1 in 20).
3. The names Lincoln and Kennedy both contain seven letters (Until we consider their first names, which destroy this parallel).
4. Both were presidents during times of major changes in civil rights (So were their successors and several other presidents).
5. Both presidents were killed by an assassin's bullet on a Friday (This holds only a one is seven chance).
6. Both assassins were known by three names consisting of 15 letters (Each man was not always referred to by three names. This mainly surfaced after they gained notoriety following the assassinations).
7. Both assassins were killed before their trials (Booth was killed when captured. Oswald was killed days after his arrest).
8. Both men were succeeded by men with the surname of Johnson (Considering the popularity of the
surname Johnson among white males, it would be no more of a coincidence by comparing two Muslim men who share the name Mohammed.)
Not only are parallels meaningless, even if they could be shown, it does not prove causation. Mythicists would have to show how 1st Century AD Jews discovered these other religions/deities and why they would steal from them, given that idolatry was forbidden under Judaism. Yet, this is something mythicists cannot do. Given the absurdity of the Copycat Thesis, most tend to rely on the Silence Thesis, despite the fact it has been as equally refuted as the Copycat Thesis.
Arguments From Silence
The second variant of the Christ Myth Hypothesis is that early Christians do not reference to Jesus as to a historical person who came to earth, but a mythological figure, and that no historians mention Jesus at all.
The Extra-Biblical References to Jesus
In reality, ten non-Christian sources attest to aspects of Jesus’ life as described in the Gospels. There is also a good supply of Christian sources that mention Jesus as well, although, I will present these latter sources mainly to show what early Christians believed and how they used extra-Biblical sources in their writings, whereas I shall use the non-Christian sources to establish Jesus’ historicity using extra-Biblical evidence. I shall present each extra-biblical source by genre and within each genre, in order of importance from most to least.
Secular (Historical) Sources
Cornelius Tacitus (55 - 120 A.D.)
Tacitus was a 1st and 2nd century Roman historian who lived through the reigns of over half a dozen Roman emperors. His Annals give us an excellent reference to Jesus and the origins of Christianity.
"But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired." Annals 15, 44
Mythicists tend to claim the following: -
• Tacitus took his information uncritically from Christian sources.
• Tacitus was unreliable.
• This passage was a Christian interpolation.
• This passage was not quoted by early Church Fathers.
• Tacitus referred to Pilate as a procurator, when Pilate was a prefect.
Copied From Christians Uncritically
Tacitus was a professional historian. Not only that, but Tacitus was highly critical, even of his friend Pliny the Younger.
“So it is related by Caius Pliny. Handed down from whatever source, I had no intention of suppressing it, however absurd it may seem, either that Antonia should have lent her name at her life's peril to a hopeless project, or that Piso, with his well-known affection for his wife, should have pledged himself to another marriage, but for the fact that the lust of dominion inflames the heart more than any other passion.” Annals 15, 55.
Furthermore, Tacitus distinguishes between fact and hearsay sixty eight times in his History. If Jesus were not a historical person as mythicists claim then Tacitus would have freely pointed this out as there are several instances where Tacitus . Tacitus was a very careful historian who received his information from an array of sources. In fact, Tacitus was considered one the greatest Roman historians and Annals, especially Book 11 to Book 15, are Tacitus’ most carefully documented works.
“the prime quality of Cornelius Tacitus is distrust. It was needed if a man were to write about the Caesars.” Ronald Syme, Tacitus (Oxford: Clarendon, 1958), 281-2
“[Tacitus] was no stranger to industrious investigation.” Ronald Syme, Tacitus (Oxford: Clarendon, 1958), 398
“it may be said with some confidence that the view that Tacitus followed a single authority no longer commands support” Donald Dudley, The World of Tacitus (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1968), 29
“[t]here is no doubt that [Tacitus] took a great deal of care in selecting his material” Michael Grant, Tacitus: The Annals of Imperial Rome (Penguin Books, 1973), 20.
“[Tacitus]... chose judiciously among his sources, totally dependent on none, and very often, at crucial points, ignored the consensus of his predecessors to impose his own viewpoint and his own judgement.” Herbert W. Benario, An Introduction to Tacitus (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1975), 87
“for Tacitean scepticism was inescapable is not to be doubted.” G. E. F. Chilver, A Historical Commentary on Tacitus’ Histories I and I (Oxford: Clarendon, 1979), 24
“[i]t is clear, then, that Tacitus read widely and that the idea he was an uncritical follower of a single source is quite untenable” Donald Martin, Tacitus (Berkley: University of California Press, 1981), 211
"If research is the consultation and evaluation of sources, there can be little doubt that Tacitus engaged in serious research though it is not often apparent in the smooth flow of his narrative." Ronald Mellor, Tacitus (New York: Routledge, 1993), 31-2
“[Tacitus] was careful to contrast what had been handed down orally with the written tradition” Michael Grant, Greek and Roman Histories: Information and Misinformation (London: Routledge, 1995), 40-3
If Tacitus did receive any information from Christians, he would not have accepted said information uncritically. Tacitus compiled information from a variety of sources and was highly critical, even of his friend Pliny the Younger. If that were not enough, Tacitus as well as other Romans viewed Christians with dislike and distrust, so to claim Tacitus copied information uncritically from anybody, let alone Christian, is just absurd.
This claim is clearly unsubstantiated. Firstly, this passage is far too critical of Christianity to have been inserted by a Christian and there are no surviving copies of Tacitus’ Annals that do not have this reference. There is no evidence of any sort of tampering or editing in this passage either. Various people have claimed that “ultraviolet light has shown that someone edited the manuscript”, yet there is no evidence for such a claim. The evidence shows that someone had changed an 'e' to an 'i' in Christianos, yet how this serves as evidence for an interpolation is not clear. The alternative spelling with an 'e' was used by Christians and pagans alike in reference to Christians and Christ (a fact that one Christian apologist used to mock enemies of Christianity), Tacitus still spells Christus with the 'i'. The obvious and more logical explanation is that it was a spelling error and someone made a conjectural emendation. Secondly, mythicists would also have to provide evidence of another group of people around the same time called "the Good" who had a leader named "Chrestus". Some have even suggested a “brilliant interpolator", yet by this time it should be obvious that they are grasping at straws. The Tacitus reference is genuine, which is why sceptics and mythicists have tried their hardest to discredit its historic value.
Tacitus calls Pilate a Procurator instead of a Prefect
This is a moot point as references are made to Pilate as a procurator in both secular and Christian works: -
"But now Pilate, the procurator of Judea...” Antiquities XVIII, 3:1
"Now Pilate, who was sent as procurator into Judea by Tiberius..." The Jewish Wars, Book II 9:2
"Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar..." First Apology XII
It is entirely probable that Pilate held both titles. A procurator was a financial administrator who acted as the emperor’s personal agent, whilst a prefect was a military official. Since Judea was a minor province in the Empire, there was probably not much distinction between the two and one person could have easily fulfilled both roles. Then there is the fact that Tacitus’ readers, who were fellow members of the Senate, seemed not to notice this error. As usual, this is just mythicists grasping at straws.
Therefore, we can see that Tacitus confirms the following:
• Jesus was the founder of Christianity.
• Jesus was executed under Pilate during Tiberius’ reign.
• Jesus’ death “checked” Christianity for a time.
• Christianity began before Jesus’ death (although probably was not known as Christianity then).
• Christianity began in Judea.
Pliny the Younger (63 - 113 A.D.)
Pliny the Younger, governor of Bithynia and friend of Tacitus, wrote this letter to Trajan regarding the treatment of Christians. Here he admits to torturing Christians for information and relates what he learned from his captives regarding their beliefs to Trajan and asks him for advice in further proceedings against Christians.
"It is customary for me, sir, to refer to you in all matters wherein I have a doubt. Who truly is better able to rule my hesitancy, or to instruct my ignorance? I was never present at examinations of Christians, therefore I do not know what is customarily punished, nor to what extent, nor how far to take the investigation. I was quite undecided; should there be any consideration given to age; are those who are however delicate no different from the stronger? Should penitence obtain pardon; or, as has been the case particularly with Christians, to desist makes no difference? Should the name itself be punished (even if crimes are absent), or the crimes that go with the name? Meanwhile, this is the method I have followed with those who were brought before me as Christians. I asked them directly if they were Christians. The ones who answered affirmatively I questioned again with a warning, and yet a third time: those who persisted I ordered led [away]. For I have no doubt, whatever else they confessed to, certainly [this] pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy ought to be punished. There were others alike of madness, whom I noted down to be sent to the City, because they were Roman citizens. Soon in consequence of this policy itself, as it was made standard, many kinds of criminal charges occurred and spread themselves abroad. A pamphlet was published anonymously, containing the names of many. Those who denied that they were or ever had been Christians, when they swore before me, called on the gods and offered incense and wine to your image (which I had ordered brought in for this [purpose], along with images of the gods), and also cursed Christ (which, it is said, it is impossible to force those who are real Christians to do) I thought worthy to be acquitted. Others named by an informer, said they had been Christians, but now denied [it]; certainly they had been, but had lapsed, some three years ago, some more; and more than one [lit. not nobody] over twenty years ago. These all worshiped both your image and the images of the gods and cursed Christ. They stated that the sum of their guilt or error amounted to this, that they used to gather on a stated day before dawn and sing to Christ as if he were a god, and that they took an oath not to involve themselves in villainy, but rather to commit no theft, no fraud, no adultery; not to break faith, nor to deny money placed with them in trust. Once these things were done, it was their custom to part and return later to eat a meal together, innocently, although they stopped this after my edict, in which I, following your mandate, forbade all secret societies. All the more I believed it necessary to find out what was the truth from two servant maids, which were called deaconesses, by means of torture. Nothing more did I find than a disgusting, fanatical superstition. Therefore I stopped the examination, and hastened to consult you. For it appears to me a proper matter for counsel, most greatly on account of the number of people endangered. For many of all ages, all classes, and both sexes already are brought into danger, and shall be [in future]. And not only the cities; the contagion of this superstition is spread throughout the villages and the countryside; but it appears to me possible to stop it and put it right. Certainly the temples which were once deserted are beginning to be crowded, and the long interrupted sacred rites are being revived, while food from the sacrifices is selling, for which up to now a buyer was hardly to be found. From which it may easily be supposed, that what disturbs men can be mended, if a place is allowed for repentance.” Epistulae, Vol X, No. 96
The main objection used against Pliny, is that he was merely reporting on the beliefs of Christians and this passage only confirms the existence of Christians. However, mythicists understate the importance of this passage, as we learn a great deal from it. The main points regarding this passage are: -
• Pliny states that they worshipped Christ AS IF He were a god, implying that Jesus was not one Pliny would consider a deity, like a human.
• Pliny reports that there were those who resisted question three times and that there were those who not curse Christ even under torture.
• It is also interesting to note that these Christians’ beliefs deeply reflect the teachings of Jesus as presented in the Gospels.
• Pliny, as with Tacitus, views Christianity with particular disdain. If there was an even a hint that Jesus was not a real figure then Pliny would most likely have mentioned it. In addition, the fact that Pliny refers to Christians worshipping Christ as if He were a god implies that he was not a mythical figure.
Thallus (50 - 70 A.D.)
This reference is actually taken from Julius Africanus discussing Thallus’ and Phlegon’s explanations for the midday darkness that occurred during the Passover of Jesus’ crucifixion.
"As to His works severally, and His cures effected upon body and soul, and the mysteries of His doctrine, and the resurrection from the dead, these have been most authoritatively set forth by His disciples and apostles before us. On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the Passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Saviour falls on the day before the Passover; but an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time but in the interval between the first day of the new moon and the last of the old, that is, at their junction: how then should an eclipse be supposed to happen when the moon is almost diametrically opposite the sun? Let that opinion pass however; let it carry the majority with it; and let this portent of the world be deemed an eclipse of the sun, like others a portent only to the eye. Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Cæsar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth—manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. But it was a darkness induced by God, because the Lord happened then to suffer. And calculation makes out that the period of 70 weeks, as noted in Daniel, is completed at this time”. Chronography XVIII
Whether or not Thallus or Phlegon made specific references to Jesus or not will not be the subject here. What is the subject, however, is that this passage proves the veracity of the darkness recorded in the Gospels.
Typical sceptic and mythicist complaints: -
• Pliny the Elder and Seneca do not mention this event in their writings.
• Because Africanus was a Christian, he cannot be considered reliable in his transmission of Thallus’ and Phlegon’s work.
Silence from Pliny the Elder and Seneca
Pliny the Elder’s writings were regarding natural phenomena that had physical and scientific explanations so he would not have mentioned something believed to be supernatural. It is also doubtful he was even in Judea at the time. Seneca on the other hand composed literary works and, as with Pliny, was probably not even in Judea at the time anyway.
Africanus is Unreliable
Whilst mythicists would hold Africanus’ Christianity against his credible, Africanus was an honest and qualified author who did not alter quotations to serve his purposes. Furthermore, he was critical of the usage of unsound sources (for example in Africanus' letter to Origen) was often quoted by other authors and his methods were highly respected by his peers.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (69 - 130 A.D.)
Suetonius was another Roman historian. He recorded the historical events surrounding the reigns of the Caesars as well as their day-to-day lives. Furthermore, he was an analyst for the Imperial House and served as a court official under Hadrian. Suetonius records the expulsion of the Christian Jews from Rome mentioned in Acts 18:2.
"As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, [Claudius] expelled them from Rome." Life of Claudius 25.4
Mythicists typically claim:-
• Suetonius misspells Christus as Chrestus, which was an actual Greek name, so he could have been referencing someone else.
• Jesus never set foot in Rome, so how does this refer to Jesus?
Christus or Chrestus?
Firstly, the name was spelt using an e or an i by Christians and non-Christians alike. Justin Martyr used the e spelling here in First Apology IV. Some Christians even mocked Pagans for their misspelling of the word Christus and Christians: -
"Most people so blindly knock their heads against the hatred of the Christian name...It is wrongly pronounced by you as "Chrestians" (for you do not even know accurately the name you hate)... But the special ground of dislike to the sect is, that it bears the name of its Founder." Apology, Chapter III
"But the meaning of this name must be set forth, on account of the error of the ignorant who by the change of a letter are accustomed to call Him Chrestus." Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries
Secondly, the name Chrestus was a Greco-Roman slave name and foreigners were forbidden from taking such names. Since the Jews were a close-knit society, the idea that they followed the revolt of a gentile slave that would get them expelled from Rome is absurd.
Lastly, the lack of the word quodam in the original Latin implies that the word Chrestus was being used as a title, not a reference to a particular rebel as Suetonius used the word instigation, not instigator.
Jesus never set foot in Rome
This is amusing because this actually serves as evidence against the silence thesis. Either way, since Chrestus is being referred to as a title, then there was no need for Him to have been in Rome. Causes can survive long after the death of the founder of said movement, so a leader can be instigator without having to be in the vicinity.
Secular (Commentary) Sources
Celsus(~ 178 A.D.)
Celsus was a second century Roman writer. He was a bitter opponent of Christianity who went to great lengths to disprove the divinity of Jesus. Celsus’ problem is that not only where these claims addressed and refuted in the New Testament, but Celsus, as with others, never even denies Jesus or his miracles but attempts to find alternate explanations as to how they happened. Celsus, of course, shoots himself in the foot by acknowledging several things in the Gospels regarding Jesus.
On Jesus' Miracles:
"Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain [magical] powers... He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god... It was by means of sorcery that He was able to accomplish the wonders which He performed... Let us believe that these cures, or the resurrection, or the feeding of a multitude with a few loaves... These are nothing more than the tricks of jugglers... It is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of [miraculous] power..."
On the Virgin Birth:
"Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her hands. His mother had been turned out by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a Roman soldier named Panthera]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard."
On the Apostles:
"Jesus gathered around him ten or eleven persons of notorious character... tax-collectors, sailors, and fishermen... [He was] deserted and delivered up by those who had been his associates, who had him for their teacher, and who believed he was the saviour and son of the greatest God... Those who were his associates while alive, who listened to his voice, and enjoyed his instructions as their teacher, on seeing him subjected to punishment and death, neither died with nor for him... but denied that they were even his disciples, lest they die along with Him."
On Jesus' Divinity:
"One who was a God could neither flee nor be led away a prisoner... What great deeds did Jesus perform as God? Did he put his enemies to shame or bring to an end what was designed against him? No calamity happened even to him who condemned him... Why does he not give some manifestation of his divinity, and free himself from this reproach, and take vengeance upon those who insult both him and his Father?"
John the Baptist
"If any one predicted to us that the Son of God was to visit mankind, he was one of our prophets, and the prophet of our God? John, who baptized Jesus, was a Jew."
On the Crucifixion:
"Jesus accordingly exhibited after His death only the appearance of wounds received on the cross, and was not in reality so wounded as He is described to have been."
Celsus, rather than dispute Jesus performed Miracles, claims that Jesus’ miracles were the result of magic and demonic possession. Of course, Celsus does not do himself any favours as he keeps changing his claims. First, he says it is magic, and then demons but then illusions. You know, it would have been far easier for Celsus to say Jesus never existed. Why would Celsus grasp at straws thus, to disprove Jesus’ miracles if Jesus never existed? Celsus then goes on to acknowledge Jesus' birth and existence yet tries to dismiss Mary's premarital pregnancy as the result of an affair she had with a Roman soldier. Strangely enough, there is a passage in the Jewish Talmud that makes the same accusation, thus giving us reason to believe Celsus might have referenced Jewish sources for some of his arguments. Celsus then argues that if the Disciples had really believed Jesus to be the Son of God, then they would not have forsaken Him, yet by doing so, he ends up confirming the Biblical account. The Bible tells us when Jesus was arrested the apostles denied being His followers and that it was upon Jesus' resurrection they understood the spiritual principles concerning Jesus' crucifixion and boldly went out to preach the Gospel. As to his claim they neither lived nor died for him, early historians confirm that all but one of the remaining apostles were killed for their faith.
Celsus’ statements regarding the crucifixion bear similar results. Celsus ridicules Jesus for the exact same reasons the Pharisees of His time ridiculed Him, why did He not save Himself from the cross? Of course, Celsus and the Pharisees failed to understand that Jesus died to atone for sin. Celsus then puts his foot in his mouth again by asking why no judgment came upon the Jews when history shows shortly after Jesus’ death Jerusalem was invaded by the Romans, resulting in the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion of the Jewish people for almost 2,000 years. Celsus then claims that Jesus was not tortured before being crucified, however, he contradicts himself again by claiming that the person crucified was not Jesus but a double. Of course, floggings were the standard form of torture given to victims prior to crucifixion (See here). Celsus then confirms Jesus' baptism by John but asserts that John was the only one who actually prophesied His coming, not the Old Testament Messianic prophecies.
In addition, there are two very important facts regarding Celsus that make him one of the most important witnesses in this discussion:
• Whilst most sceptics like to resort to the claims of forgeries, we can be certain that this is not the case with Celsus due to the sheer volumes of his writings and the hostile accusations being directed towards Jesus.
• Whilst sceptics would like to claim Celsus got his information from Christians, that idea is purely absurd. Celsus was a rabid opponent of Christianity and, interestingly, he wrote his exposition in the form of a dialogue between a “Jewish Critic” and himself, thus giving us further cause to believe he used non-Christian, most likely Jewish, sources.
As a result, the only point that sceptics can reasonably maintain is that Celsus was arguing against a mythological Jesus, not a historical one. The answer to this objection, however, can be found in Celsus’ own words: “He was therefore a man, and of such a nature, as the truth itself proves, and reason demonstrates him to be.” Celsus’ stance is that Jesus was a real man, however Celsus maintained that that was all Jesus was, a man. Furthermore, instead of denying the events surrounding Jesus’ life as mentioned in the Gospels, Celsus confirms most of them or tries to find alternate explanations for them.
Lucian of Samosata (120 - ~180 A.D.)
Lucian was a second century Greek satirist and rhetorician. He describes his views of early Christianity, quite scornfully ridiculing the Christians and Christ. Of course, his writings confirm Jesus was executed via crucifixion and that He was the founder of Christianity.
"The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day- the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account... It was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers from the moment they are converted and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws..." The Death of Peregrinus 11-13
Mythicists typically claim: -
• Lucian’s testimony is unreliable as it is a literary work
• Lucian got his information from Christian sources
• This passage is a forgery
Lucian’s Testimony is Unreliable
We can verify that Lucian’s testimony is reliable as his commentaries revolved around historical events. In fact, he specifically criticises those who distort history or try to fill in gaps in history with their own speculation: -
"The historian's one task is to tell the thing as it happened... He may nurse some private dislikes, but he will attach far more importance to the public good, and set the truth high above his hate... For history, I say again, has this and only this for its own. If a man will start upon it, he must sacrifice to no God but Truth. He must neglect all else." The Way to Write History
Considering how emphatic Lucian was regarding historical accuracy and critical investigation, we can conclude that Lucian did not copy/accept information uncritically. We can conclude that the charge of interpolations is considerably unlikely due to the negative description of Jesus. Quite simply, an interpolator would mention Jesus in far higher regard. Instead, this passages describes Jesus as a man and crucified sage.
Mara Bar-Serapion (Post 70 A.D)
Mara Bar-Serapion wrote this letter to his son whilst in prison. Although it is obvious he does not acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, or even mention Jesus by name or title, he does mention aspects of Jesus' life. Whilst there is some criticism regarding this passage nothing in Serapion's letter contradicts what we know about Jesus.
"What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: The Athenians died of hunger. The Samians were overwhelmed by the sea. The Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good. He lived on in the teachings of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good. He lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good. He lived on in the teaching which He had given." Source
Mythicists thus claim:
• This passage does not refer to Jesus.
• This passage incorrectly states that the Jews killed Jesus when it was the Romans.
This Passage Does Not Refer to Jesus
The figure Serapion describes has the same attributes as Jesus.
The figure Serapion describes: -
• Was a wise king
• Was Jewish
• Was executed
• The Temple was destroyed after His death
• The Jews dispersed after His death
• He was a teacher
• He lived on after His death in His teachings
As for Jesus-
• He was mocked by the Romans as The King of the Jews
• The Messianic Prophecies referred to the coming Messiah as a King
• He was believed by Christians to be their promised spiritual King
• He was from the royal line of King David
• He was a Galilean Jew
• Jesus was crucified after the Jews appealed to Pilate to have Him crucified
• The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, after Jesus’ death
• The Jews abandoned Judea after the Roman attack in 70 AD
• Jesus was a teacher
• Jesus and His teachings were the foundation of Christianity
Only Jesus fits the description in Serapion’s letter.
The Romans Killed Jesus not the Jews
The Jewish leaders wanted to crucify Jesus but had to hand Him over to the Romans as they lacked the power to put Jesus to death as the Jews were under Roman domination. The Jewish leaders took Jesus to Pilate and rallied the crowd into calling Jesus to be executed.
Jewish (non-Christian) Sources
Flavius Josephus (37 - 100 A.D.)
Josephus was a first century historian of royal and priestly ancestry whose works provide an important insight into first-century Judaism. Since Josephus was born only three years after the crucifixion of Jesus, he is a very credible witness to the historicity of Jesus.
"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. For he appeared to them alive again the third day. As the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribes of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day." Antiquities XVIII, 3:2
Mythicists claim the following: -
• This passage is a forgery/has been altered
• This passage was interpolated by Christians
Passage Was Altered
This is the first claim made by mythicists regarding the various sources for Jesus that is remotely true as Christians did edit this passage. However, whilst there are those who believe this passage to be entirely forged, the majority of scholars hold that this passage still make a genuine reference to Jesus.
Before I continue, I shall point out that I shall now be referring to this passage as the Testimonium Flavium or TF for short. Firstly, a lot of the vocabulary found in the TF is consistent with that used in other, for instance the phrase “now about this time” appears in dozens of other passages. Josephus used phrases like “principal men”, and referred to other notable figures as “wise”. The TF refers to Christians as a “tribe” a term used by Josephus a lot, for various groups of people not just ethnic groups. Many phrases used would be out of a place for a Christian author to have written. The TF refers to Jesus as a wise man and then the Christ, whereas a Christian would have most certainly made sure to mention Jesus’ divinity above all things else and not used the term “wise man” to refer to Jesus as it would have downplayed Jesus’ divinity.
Secondly, if we remove the disputed words, the passage flows more clearly and is more in-line with not only Josephus’ style but what an orthodox Jew would say about Jesus too.
The TF if we remove the disputed words: -
"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. And the tribes of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day."
Thirdly, there are Greek and Arabic manuscripts of the TF that contain disclaimers before the disputed words. For example: “Jesus who was believed to be the Christ” and so on. It is also highly unlikely that the Arabic manuscripts are forgeries given that the early Christians did not read or write Arabic.
The TF if we add the necessary disclaimers: -
"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was believed to be the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for it is reported that he appeared to them alive again the third day. And the tribes of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day."
Fourthly, no manuscript of Antiquities is without the TF. Whilst the earliest manuscripts are from the 10th century, we have numerous citations of this passage by authors prior to the 10th century. It can thus be determined that Josephus DID refer to Jesus.
Fifthly, whilst critics argue that this passage interrupts the continuity of Josephus’ work in the previous and following passages, this was actually a common feature of Josephus’ work and he was known to use scribes anyway, whose writing styles would be different to Josephus’.
Sixthly, whilst there are those would argue that this passage should have been mentioned by early Church Fathers like Origen and Justin Martyr, if we remove the suspect phrases then we can see that the passage only proves Jesus’ historicity not His divinity. The passage does not serve to refute or challenge the claims made against Christianity by critics. In short, there are no good reasons why they should have referred to the TF.
Lastly, whilst critics argue Josephus should have written more about Jesus, this is just conjecture. Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews was about the History of the Jews, and since Josephus considered Jesus a fake messiah, then there is no good reason why he should have gone into any more detail. In other words, what Josephus chose to wrote was his prerogative.
The majority of scholars agree that this passage makes a genuine reference to Jesus. I shall now move on to the second passage given to us by Josephus.
"So [Ananus] assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as lawbreakers, he delivered them over to be stoned." Antiquities XX 9:1
The only claim made by mythicists is that this passage is a forgery. However, due to the inclusion of a disclaimer saying that Jesus was the “so-called Christ” it shows that Josephus was merely documenting the belief Jesus was the Christ. It should be noted that the primary focus of this passage is not Jesus, or even James but Ananus. Furthermore, not only is this passage cited but also there is no copy of the Antiquities without this passage.
You can see that even if we dismiss the disputed words in the Testimonium Flavium, we still see that Josephus confirms that Jesus lived in the first century, Jesus performed miracles, He was believed by some to be the Christ, He was a teacher, He had many followers, He was tried by Pilate, He was Crucified, He was the founder of Christianity and He had a half-brother named James.
The Babylonian Talmud
The Babylonian Talmud is an ancient record of Jewish history, laws, and rabbinic teachings compiled throughout the centuries. It refers to someone named Yeshu who was hanged, another term for crucifixion, that he practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.
"On the eve of the Passover Yeshu (Jesus) [Some texts: Yeshu/Jesus the Nazarene] was hanged [crucified]. Forty days before the execution, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover."
Mythicists typically claim: -
• This passage is refers to someone else named Yeshu
• This passage uses the term hanged, not crucified.
Doesn’t Mention Jesus
Whilst it is possible that this passage could refer to someone else, the person described matches Jesus. We know Jesus was killed during the Passover, the Pharisees accused Him of sorcery and He was arrested for blasphemy. There are also translations that read Yeshu the Nazarene, thus giving us even more reason to believe this passage is referring to Jesus.
Hanged Not Crucified
The term hanged was used as an idiom for crucifixion. For example, in Galatians 3:13
13 Christ took away the curse the law put on us. He changed places with us and put himself under that curse. It is written in the Scriptures, "Anyone whose body is displayed on a tree is cursed."
23 But don't leave his body hanging on the tree overnight; be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone whose body is displayed on a tree is cursed by God. You must not ruin the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own.
It shall be noted here that I shall list examples of Extra-Biblical sources.
Clement of Rome (? - 98? A.D.)
Clement was a bishop of Rome and first century apostolic author, which gives credence to his first-hand account of early Christianity. In the passage below, Clement confirms the ministry of the disciples and some of the basic tenets of early Christianity.
“The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.”
Clements First Epistle, to the Corinthians, 42
Examples of Extra-Biblical Resource Evidence for Clement:
• Chapter 2 shows correspondence with possible eyewitnesses. "And giving heed unto His words, ye laid them up diligently in your hearts, and His sufferings were before your eyes"
• Tertullian and Jerome state that Clement was a disciple of Peter. If this was true, then this would mean Clement would have been close to an original apostle of Jesus.
• Whilst Clement quotes the New Testament (although he does not mention them by name), he also quotes sayings of Christ not found in the New Testament.
Ignatius of Antioch (? - ~100 A.D)
Ignatius was a Bishop of Antioch who was also reported to have been a disciple of Peter. He is also believed to have been a disciple of Paul and John. Ignatius’ testimony led to his death at the hands of the Romans, yet not once did he recant his beliefs.
"Jesus Christ who was of the race of David, who was the Son of Mary, who was truly born and ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and on earth and those under the earth. Who moreover was truly raised from the dead, His father having raised Him, who in the like fashion will so raise us also who believe in Him." Trallians
"He is truly of the race of David according to the flesh but Son of God by the Divine will and powered, truly born of a virgin and baptized by John that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him, truly nailed up in the flesh for our sakes under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch... That He might set up an ensign unto all ages through His resurrection." Smyrneans, 1
"Be ye fully persuaded concerning the birth and the passion and the resurrection, which took place in the time of the governorship of Pontius Pilate. For these things were truly and certainly done by Jesus Christ our hope." Magnesians XI
Examples of Extra-Biblical Resource Evidence for Ignatius:
• Theodoret states Ignatius was personally appointed to Antioch by Peter, indicating a personal relationship with a direct apostle of Jesus.
• John Chrysostom emphasises the honour bestowed upon Ignatius as he personally received his dedication from the apostles.
• Clement was also believed to be a disciple of Paul and John, thus showing a personal relationship with two further apostles of Jesus.
One complaint is that knowing original apostles is not the same as using extra-biblical sources. Of course, Clement and Ignatius lived in a time where the living voice was considered more reliable than the written word. Since they knew the apostles personally, then they would be in good position to evaluate their testimonies.
Quadratus of Athens (126 A.D.)
Quadratus was an Athenian bishop and direct disciple of the Apostles. Eusebius relates that Quadratus mentioned that a few who were healed and resurrected by Jesus lived until his time, and thus after the Gospels.
"The deeds of our Saviour were always before you, for they were true miracles. Those that were healed, those that were raised from the dead, who were seen, not only when healed and when raised, but were always present. They remained living a long time, not only while our Lord was on earth, but likewise when he had left the earth. So that some of them have also lived to our own times." Eusebius IV III, 2
Examples of Extra-Biblical Resource Evidence for Quadratus:
• In the above passage, Quadratus refers to those who were healed by Jesus and that some were still alive in Quadratus’ own times.
• Like Clement and Ignatius, Quadratus was said by Eusebius to be a direct disciple of the apostles.
Aristides the Athenian (126 A.D.)
Aristides describes the treatment of Jesus by His own people, the Jews, and contrasts their beliefs with those of the Christians.
"When the Son of God was pleased to come upon the earth, they received him with wanton violence and betrayed him into the hands of Pilate the Roman governor. Paying no respect to his good deeds and the countless miracles he performed among them, they demanded a sentence of death by the cross... Now the Christians trace their origin from the Lord Jesus Christ... The Son of the most high God who came down from heaven, being born of a pure [Hebrew] virgin, for the salvation of men... And he was crucified, being pierced with nails by the Jews. And after three days He came to life again and ascended into heaven. His twelve apostles, after his ascension into heaven, went forth into the provinces of the whole world proclaiming the true doctrine... They who still observe the righteousness enjoined by their preaching are called Christians." Apology XIV-XV
Justin Martyr (~100 - 165 A.D.)
Justin Martyr is most probably the most well known early Christian apologist. He was an educated pagan philosopher who converted to Christianity around 130 A.D. He was executed via scourging and beheading in 165 A.D. although did not once recant his faith.
"There is a village in Judea, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ was born, as you can see from the tax registers under Cyrenius, your first procurator in Judea... He was born of a virgin as a man, and was named Jesus, and was crucified, and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven... After He was crucified, all His acquaintances denied Him. But once He had risen from the dead and appeared to them and explained the prophecies which foretold all these things and ascended into heaven, the apostles believed. They received the power given to them by Jesus and went into the world preaching the Gospel." First Apology, 34, 46, 50
"At the time of His birth, Magi from Arabia came and worshipped Him, coming first to Herod, who was then sovereign in your land... When they crucified Him, driving in the nails, they pierced His hands and feet. Those who crucified Him parted His garments among themselves, each casting lots... But you did not repent after you learned that He rose from the dead. Instead, you sent men into to the world to proclaim that a godless heresy had sprung from Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom was crucified and that His disciples stole His body from the tomb in order to deceive men by claiming He had risen from the dead and ascended into heaven." Dialogue with Trypho, 77 97, 107-8
Examples of Extra-Biblical Resource Evidence for Justin:
• Justin refers to the Judean tax registers as evidence of Jesus' birth.
• In the second quote above, Justin is refuting the rumours concerning a resurrection conspiracy and the accusation that Jesus was a Galilean deceiver. Justin's awareness of the rumours concerning Jesus reveals his knowledge of extra-Biblical testimony.
• Justin uses the healing ministry of Christians to attest to the very real power of Christ:
"Countless possessed men throughout the land are being exorcised by many of our Christian men in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, continue to heal, rendering helpless and driving the demons out of men, though they could not be cured by any other exorcists or those who used incantations and drugs." Second Apology VI
• Justin refers to The Acts of Pilate, which was not Biblical:
"And that these things did happen, you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate." First Apology XXXV
Hegesippus (110 A.D. - 180 A.D.)
Hegesippus converted to Christianity from Judaism after extensively researching the Gospel story for himself. He travelled extensively throughout Rome and Corinth in an effort to collect evidence of the early Christian claims. Hegesippus provides important testimony that the stories being passed around were not watered down, embellished, or fabricated.
"This man [James] was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ... The Corinthian church continued in the true doctrine until Primus became bishop. I mixed with them on my voyage to Rome and spent several days with the Corinthians, during which we were refreshed with the true doctrine. On arrival at Rome I pieced together the succession down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus, Anicetus being succeeded by Soter and he by Eleutherus. In ever line of bishops and in every city things accord with the preaching of the Law, the Prophets, and the Lord." The History of the Church
Hegesippus’ entire manuscript is a compilation of outside research, so I will list a few examples:
• Hegesippus describes the ministry and demise of James at the hands of the Pharisees, which is not mentioned in the New Testament.
• Hegesippus retraced the roots of the early church stating he did so in order to ensure the circulating testimonies concerning Christ were genuine.
• In his research, Hegesippus relates the ministries of several witnesses not in the Bible.
• Hegesippus documents the interrogation of Jesus' grandnephews by Domitian, recording that they lived into the reign of Trojan.
• Hegesippus documents the martyrdom of Bishop Symeon, believed to be a relative, disciple, and/or contemporary of Jesus.
• Hegesippus addresses heresies being spread by differing sects, implying he did not focus his research
solely on Biblical teachings.
Lack of Physical Evidence and Personal Writings
One claim made by sceptics, is that there is no physical evidence for some the Bibles claims/stories. Yet, on several occasions, this has proven to be the opposite. For instance, the New Testament mentions the pool of Bethsaida as a place where Jesus healed a paralytic. However, no such location was known to exist. That is, until it was discovered in Jerusalem as a place where the sick would gather to seek healing. The point is, just because an artefact has not yet been recovered does not mean none exist.
As for personal writings, this argument is rather meaningless. Socrates, for example, is a figure that exists only in the writings of his students, as there is not a single document still in existence that contains his original works. If we apply the same arguments to Socrates sceptics use to determine Jesus' historicity, we must assume Socrates was a figment of the imagination of his students. If we accept Socrates as a historical figure based on four secondary accounts, we must also accept Jesus as a historical figure whose life was documented by His disciples, historians, and even those who rejected His divine claims. Sceptics may try to claim that Socrates and Jesus were different. However, the only way they would be right would be for a different reason then what they hoped. Namely, Jesus had a lot more written about him than Socrates.
Mythicists claim that because accounts were recorded after Jesus’ life then we cannot trust them as reliable sources. This comes from a misunderstanding of antiquity as well as the historical method. 95% of the population was illiterate and thus the primary method of making the Gospels well known was the oral tradition. The Gospels were written to preserve the accounts for future generations, and were most certainly written by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses who recorded what the eyewitnesses said.
Jesus’ ministry was concentrated in Judea, not places like Rome or Alexandria. Christianity did not reach Rome until 95 A.D. so a mention of Jesus by a Roman historian around 30 A.D. would be highly suspect. Jesus was a blip on the radar, as His ministry was only three years long and ended with His shameful death on the cross. Jesus did not address the Roman Senate, Jesus did not write extensive Greek philosophical treatises, Jesus never travelled outside of Palestine, Jesus was not a member of any known political party, Jesus was executed as a criminal, Jesus was an itinerant preacher whose teachings ran contrary too and were even offensive to the established religious and moral order of the time, Jesus associated with disreputable characters and lastly Jesus was a poor, rural person in a land run by wealthy urbanites. It was not until Christianity had grown significantly that historians begin to investigate it and mention Jesus, which is what we would expect.
Lack of Evidence of Events Which Occurred During His Life?
Some mythicists claim that the Gospels mention events not recorded in secular history. Namely, the darkness and the infanticide conducted by Herod the Great. The trouble is that these events ARE mentioned in secular history. I have already mentioned the Thallus and Phlegon references to the darkness that occurred Jesus’ crucifixion, of course, they try to dismiss this event as a solar eclipse.
"When Augustus heard that Herod king of the Jews had ordered all the boys in Syria under the age of two years to be put to death and that the king's son was among those killed, he said, 'I'd rather be Herod's pig than Herod’s son.'" Macrobius
Because Palestine was considered a Syrian province at the time, Macrobius was thus probably referring to the vicinity of Bethlehem. Knowing Macrobius was a pagan, we can conclude Macrobius used an independent source for his writings.
Lack of Physical Description
Mythicists claim lack of physical description is evidence He never existed, yet this idea is, as usual, wholly absurd. There are known figures in antiquity who have no contemporary images describing or depicting their appearance and depictions of Jesus would not serve as proof anyway. Whilst there is a reference to His physical appearance in the prophecy of Isaiah, the reason why he never depicted was most likely to avoid idolatry.
Lack of Attestation to His Historicity By Authors
This argument fails down to the fact that there is no need for them to have done so. If I were to write a book on the Holocaust, I would not need to devote pages attesting to its historicity. Known events like the Holocaust are doubted a mere sixty-five years after it happened. Whereas with Jesus, almost two thousand years passed until people began to claim Jesus never existed. The ancient authors were discussing a known historical figure and were debating His divinity, not His existence. Furthermore, if Jesus had never existed then critics of Christianity would have been the first to point this out. Instead, they only confirm His existence as well as accounts mentioned in the Gospels.
Authors Who Do Not Mention Jesus
Often a long list of Historians is given whom “should have mentioned Jesus”, yet this is a false assumption that any author who was a contemporary of Jesus would find it necessary to write about Him. Ultimately, each list is usually a copy or derivative of a list used by John Remsburg in his book, The Christ. It is thus prudent to note that this had already been answered, and has been for quite some time. A further argument made by likes of GA Wells and Earl Doherty is that there is a silence in the Christian literature regarding details of Jesus’ life. I shall first address the lack of silence from Christian literature and then move onto the secular authors who, quote, “should have mentioned Jesus”, unquote.
Paul of Tarsus and the Epistle Writers
It is argued by some that the epistles of Paul and the epistles of others, which were written earlier than the Gospels, are devoid of much of the information regarding Jesus’ life found in the Gospels. Of course, not only do proponents of this argument not seem to realise that these writings do mention events in Jesus’ life, they also seem unaware that early Christians were not solely reliant on the handful of epistles as they had the preaching of the apostles and their close associates and so thus already knew about Jesus, and took this information for granted. Proponents thus seem blissfully unaware that the social world of antiquity was vastly different to that of modern times. People back then lived in what is called a “high-context” society. Basically, what this means is that people presumed a broadly spread and widely understood common knowledge or “high knowledge”. People would not waste time filling someone else in on all the details of the matter they were writing about as they expected the other person to already know due said information being “high knowledge”. This can be compared to technical jargon used by experts today. Experts in a specific field what not need to mention what every term means to their fellows, as their fellows already know what these terms means and so on. However, if an expert wanted to convey information to a non-expert, then they would have to fill them in on the necessary terms and concepts. Today is a “low-context” society due to the overwhelming amount of specialist fields, whereas in antiquity there were relatively few specialist areas that required specialist knowledge. Therefore, Paul would not need to bring up every aspect of Jesus’ life in his letters, and the Christians he was writing too already knew everything about Jesus anyway. Before I continue I shall mention that Paul does mention events in Jesus’ life in some of his writings, but because mythicists claim these were later forgeries I shall focus on his earlier epistles. I will write a separate blog about the authorship and validity of the New Testament later.
The first factor to consider then is that there was no need to bring up these details. Early Christians would have been converted directly by the apostles themselves who personally knew Jesus before He died and resurrected. Various details would have had no reason to be mentioned unless there was sufficient reason. We shall consider four things. Firstly, does the occasion warrant a mention to a specific detail in Jesus’ life? Mythicists frequently bring up passages where the occasion does not warrant a mention of some detail of Jesus’ life. Secondly, the writings of Paul were not sermons meant to convert people. Those being written to had been Christians for a good while and thus Paul had no need to preach the Gospel to them again. Thirdly, thus since those being written to were familiar with the Gospels, there was no need for Paul to mention when he was mentioning sayings or teachings of Jesus. Lastly, Paul wrote to the various churches to give them instructions on how to lead a Christ-like life. It is entirely likely that in places he was responding to queries regarding certain teachings in the Gospels and thus would not needed to quote the passage he was being queried about.
The second factor to consider is how Paul cites sayings/teachings of Jesus when he does so. Paul does actually mention them, although without mentioning that Jesus said them. We shall consider two things. It may strike some as odd, but ancient writers were not subject to the same source citation we are today. Looking at how Paul cites the Old Testament, which Paul and other epistle writers undisputedly viewed as an authority, the vast majority of quotes Paul uses the term “It is written” or some equally impersonal citation phrase. In fact, Paul, out of the OT citations, mentions the specific author/part of the OT he is quoting from less than thirty times out of a total of around 437 OT quotes. Paul and other NT writers also allude to teachings and sayings from the OT without directly mentioning whatsoever. In fact, there a good few thousand said allusions to OT in the NT epistles. What we see of allusions to the Gospels are very much in the same manner. This leads me onto the second aspect of this factor that we should consider. We find indirect allusions to teachings/sayings of Jesus in the epistles, which is what we would expect given that the people Paul and other epistle writers were writing to had different problems to those specifically addressed by Jesus Himself. Thus, what we see are adaptations of Jesus’ specific words, or teachings that incorporate parts of Jesus’ teachings. For example, Jesus taught in rural Palestine whilst Paul and other epistle writers were writing people who lived in cities/large urban areas. Let us take a look at the following passages: -
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.2 Large crowds gathered around him, so he got into a boat and sat down, while the people stood on the shore. 3 Then Jesus used stories to teach them many things. He said: "A farmer went out to plant his seed. 4 While he was planting, some seed fell by the road, and the birds came and ate it all up.5 Some seed fell on rocky ground, where there wasn't much dirt. That seed grew very fast, because the ground was not deep.6 But when the sun rose, the plants dried up, because they did not have deep roots.7 Some other seed fell among thorny weeds, which grew and choked the good plants.8 Some other seed fell on good ground where it grew and produced a crop. Some plants made a hundred times more, some made sixty times more, and some made thirty times more. 9 Let those with ears use them and listen."
3 In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,4 because we have heard about the faith you have in Christ Jesus and the love you have for all of God's people.5 You have this faith and love because of your hope, and what you hope for is kept safe for you in heaven. You learned about this hope when you heard the message about the truth, the Good News6 that was told to you. Everywhere in the world that Good News is bringing blessings and is growing. This has happened with you, too, since you heard the Good News and understood the truth about the grace of God.
Here we can see Jesus and Paul talking about the concept of growing and bearing blessings or bearing fruit, an extensive theme used throughout the New Testament. Notice in Jesus’ parable, He makes good use of rural imagery whereas in Paul’s letter there is no such imagery. Another example can be shown in the following two passages also: -
19 "Don't store treasures for yourselves here on earth where moths and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them. 20 But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moths or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them. 21 Your heart will be where your treasure is.
1 Timothy 6:17-19
17 Command those who are rich with things of this world not to be proud. Tell them to hope in God, not in their uncertain riches. God richly gives us everything to enjoy.18 Tell the rich people to do good, to be rich in doing good deeds, to be generous and ready to share.19 By doing that, they will be saving a treasure for themselves as a strong foundation for the future. Then they will be able to have the life that is true life.
Another point would be is that Jesus’ audience was Jewish and Paul’s letters were to gentile believers. This it would have been out of place for Paul to use teachings of Jesus with specific Jewish application, so thus Paul would have had to adapt the teachings to a gentile setting, which is what we see. For example: -
17 So tell us what you think. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" 18 But knowing that these leaders were trying to trick him, Jesus said, "You hypocrites! Why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me a coin used for paying the tax." So the men showed him a coin. 20 Then Jesus asked, "Whose image and name are on the coin?" 21 The men answered, "Caesar's." Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and give to God the things that are God's."
Romans 13:1; 6-7
1 All of you must yield to the government rulers. No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule, and no one rules now without that power from God.
6 This is also why you pay taxes. Rulers are working for God and give their time to their work.7 Pay everyone, then, what you owe. If you owe any kind of tax, pay it. Show respect and honor to them all.
Jesus had to confront the Jewish issue of paying taxes using the coinage of Caesar, which was considered blasphemous by Jews. Paul’s audience being gentiles, he did not have to confront the problem of blasphemous coinage and so adapts the teaching to the situation.
There is one final reason why we have allusions as opposed to direct quotations, and that is timing. Many of Jesus’ teachings were about things that were yet to come, of course by Paul’s time many of things had been accomplished. For example in the previous sower parable, Jesus’ teaching was regarding something that yet to be done, namely spread His message. Whereas the Colossians would have considered the sowing to have been done, as they had all accepted Jesus’ message. Look at this following example: -
24 Then Jesus said to his followers, "If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me. 25 Those who want to save their lives will give up true life, and those who give up their lives for me will have true life. 26 It is worthless to have the whole world if they lose their souls. They could never pay enough to buy back their souls.
20 I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore—it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me.
7 Those things were important to me, but now I think they are worth nothing because of Christ.8 Not only those things, but I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him, I have lost all those things, and now I know they are worthless trash. This allows me to have Christ9 and to belong to him. Now I am right with God, not because I followed the law, but because I believed in Christ. God uses my faith to make me right with him.10 I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death.11 Then I have hope that I myself will be raised from the dead.
The final factor to consider is the authority of God and the Old Testament, which can subsequently be broken into two sub-points. The first sub-point is answer to the objection that Paul and the other epistle writers mention sayings/teachings of Jesus, yet quote the Old Testament instead and fail to mention Jesus. The first sub-point being Jesus = God. The specific verse in question is as follows:
1 John 3:21-23
21 My dear friends, if our hearts do not make us feel guilty, we can come without fear into God's presence.22 And God gives us what we ask for because we obey God's commands and do what pleases him.23 This is what God commands: that we believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, and that we love each other, just as he commanded.
This references Leviticus, however, mythicists ask why John does not mention Jesus. The obvious answer is because John equates Jesus with God, referring to Jesus as God’s Word or “Logos”. We can see this quite clearly in John’s Gospel:
19 But Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing alone. The Son does only what he sees the Father doing, because the Son does whatever the Father does.
30 The Father and I are one."
10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you don't come from me, but the Father lives in me and does his own work.
Another series of verses bought up, this time from Hebrews are: -
2 But now in these last days God has spoken to us through his Son. God has chosen his Son to own all things, and through him he made the world.
5 This is because God never said to any of the angels,
"You are my Son.
Today I have become your Father." — Psalm 2:7
Nor did God say of any angel,
"I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son." — 2 Samuel 7:14
11 Jesus, who makes people holy, and those who are made holy are from the same family. So he is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.
7 So it is as the Holy Spirit says:
"Today listen to what he says.
5 So when Christ came into the world, he said:
"You do not want sacrifices and offerings,
but you have prepared a body for me.
Hebrews 1:2 is not citing the OT, Hebrews 1:5 cites the OT, 3:7 attributes an OT quote to the Holy Spirit and not Jesus, leaving 2:11 and 10:5. In the cases of Hebrews 2:11 and 10:5, there is no problem because Jesus is regarded as the Logos, literally the Word of Yahweh, or Old Testament, incarnate. Paul also describes Jesus as the wisdom of God: -
1 Corinthians 1:24
24 But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks.
Quite simply, there is no problem here. The second aspect of this factor then is the authority of the Old Testament. Why the appeal to the Old Testament? Because it supports the New Testament as Jesus’ position as Messiah and also because of its authority amongst the Jews. Since the gentiles would be unfamiliar with the Old Testament, Paul and others would need to fill them in. Of course, some mythicists then like to claim Paul and other Christians searched through the OT and invented the Gospels from the messianic prophecies, but that is another topic for another time. In conclusion then, mythicists are clueless about the social, cultural and textual contexts of the time and import foreign modern concepts to try to get their point across.
Now that I have explained why these so-called “silences” pose absolutely no problem, let us go through the list of verses bought up. First I shall list the ones that require no further comment, that is, verses that can be answered with the above: -
1. Romans 1:1-4
2. Romans 1:16-17
3. Romans 1:19-20
4. Romans 3:21-25
5. Romans 6:2-4
6. Romans 8:26
7. Romans 10:3-4
8. Romans 10:9
9. Romans 10:13-21
10. Romans 11:1-6; 7-12; 20
11. Romans 13:3-4
12. Romans 13:8-9
13. Romans 13:11-12
14. Romans 14:13
15. Romans 14:14
16. Romans 15:3-4
17. Romans 16:25-27
18. 1 Corinthians 1:1
19. 1 Corinthians 1:9
20. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8
21. 1 Corinthians 2:11-13
22. 1 Corinthians 4:5
23. 1 Corinthians 7:29
24. 1 Corinthians 9:1-2
25. 1 Corinthians 12:4; 7-8; 11
26. 1 Corinthians 12:28
27. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
28. 1 Corinthians 14:36-37
29. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
30. 1 Corinthians 15:45-49
31. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
32. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6; 8-9
33. 2 Corinthians 4:4-6
34. 2 Corinthians 5:6-7
35. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
36. 2 Corinthians 9:10
37. 2 Corinthians 10:7-8
38. 2 Corinthians 11:22-33
39. 2 Corinthians 12:11-12
40. 2 Corinthians 11:4
41. Galatians 1:13
42. Galatians 2:6
43. Galatians 2:7-8
44. Galatians 4:22-31
45. Galatians 5:14
46. Ephesians 4:1-2
47. Galatians 4:4-6
48. Ephesians 1:7-10
49. Ephesians 1:19-23
50. Ephesians 2:17-18
51. Ephesians 2:20-21
52. Ephesians 3:4-6; 7-11
53. Ephesians 4:8-12
54. Ephesians 4:23-24
55. Ephesians 4:26
56. Ephesians 4:32
57. Ephesians 5:2
58. Ephesians 5:8
59. Ephesians 6:8
60. Ephesians 6:11-12
61. Philippians 1:6
62. Philippians 3:10
63. Colossians 1:15-20
64. Colossians 1:25-27
65. Colossians 2:8-10
66. Colossians 2:11
67. Colossians 3:9-10
68. Colossians 3:12-14
69. 1 Thessalonians 2:2
70. 1 Thessalonians 2:4
71. 1 Thessalonians 2:12-13
72. 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8
73. 1 Thessalonians 4:9
74. 1 Thessalonians 5:2
75. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15
76. 2 Thessalonians 1:7
77. 1 Timothy 1:10-11
78. 1 Timothy 2:8
79. 1 Timothy 3:16
80. 1 Timothy 4:4
81. 1 Timothy 4:10
82. 1 Timothy 5:18
83. 1 Timothy 6:16
84. 2 Timothy 3:14-15
85. Titus 1:3
86. Titus 2:11-13
87. Titus 3:4-6
88. Hebrews 1:4-14
89. Hebrews 2:1-4
90. Hebrews 2:11-13
91. Hebrews 2:14-15
92. Hebrews 3:14-4:2; 4:6-8
93. Hebrews 5:5-6
94. Hebrews 5:7
95. Hebrews 5:12
96. Hebrews 6:1-2
97. Hebrews 6:13-18
98. Hebrews 7:1
99. Hebrews 7:12
100. Hebrews 7:15-17
101. Hebrews 8-9
102. Hebrews 8:4
103. Hebrews 8:8-12
104. Hebrews 9:11
105. Hebrews 9:19-20
106. Hebrews 9:24-26
107. Hebrews 10:5-6
108. Hebrews 10:9
109. Hebrews 10:15-16
110. Hebrews 10:37
111. Hebrews 11
112. Hebrews 12:15-17
113. Hebrews 12:18-29
114. Hebrews 13:2
115. Hebrews 13:5-6
116. Hebrews 13:7
117. Hebrews 13:8
118. James 1:5
119. James 1:9-10
120. James 1:21-22
121. James 2:5
122. James 2:8
123. James 2:10
124. James 4:4
125. James 4:6-10
126. James 4:11
127. James 5:1-3
128. James 5:6
129. James 5:10
130. James 5:12
131. James 5:15
132. 1 Peter 1:8
133. 1 Peter 1:12
134. 1 Peter 1:15
135. 1 Peter 1:20-21
136. 1 Peter 1:23-25
137. 1 Peter 2:13
138. 1 Peter 3:14
139. 1 Peter 3:18-19
140. 1 Peter 3:5-6
141. 1 Peter 4:14
142. 1 Peter 5:1
143. 1 Peter 5:5-6
144. 2 Peter 1:3
145. 2 Peter 1:16-18
146. 2 Peter 1:19
147. 2 Peter 2:1
148. 2 Peter 3:2
149. 2 Peter 3:3-4
150. 2 Peter 3:10
151. 1 John 1:1-4
152. 1 John 2:6; 7-8
153. 1 John 2:27
154. 1 John 2:28
155. 1 John 3:5-8
156. 1 John 3:11
157. 1 John 3:16
158. 1 John 3:21-24
159. 1 John 4:1-3
160. 1 John 4:4-6
161. 1 John 4:12
162. 1 John 5:6-11
163. 1 John 5:14-15
164. 2 John 4:6
165. Jude 1
166. Jude 17
167. Revelation 1:9
168. Revelation 12:1-6
I shall now go through verses that may need a bit of further explanation in addition to the aforementioned factors.
17 In the past you were slaves to sin—sin controlled you. But thank God, you fully obeyed the things that you were taught.
Mythicists ask why Paul does not mention that Jesus as the originator of the teaching. Because quite simply, what is being said is regarding who handed on the teaching, not whose product it was. Therefore, there is no need to stress the origin of the teaching. Jesus did not personally teach the people Paul, but they certainly knew that Jesus was the originator of said teachings, especially considering it was a high-context society.
19 Everything God made is waiting with excitement for God to show his children's glory completely.20 Everything God made was changed to become useless, not by its own wish but because God wanted it and because all along there was this hope:21 that everything God made would be set free from ruin to have the freedom and glory that belong to God's children.
22 We know that everything God made has been waiting until now in pain, like a woman ready to give birth.23 Not only the world, but we also have been waiting with pain inside us. We have the Spirit as the first part of God's promise. So we are waiting for God to finish making us his own children, which means our bodies will be made free.
Mythicists ask why Paul states they are still waiting for God to set them free if Christ’s death set them free from sin. This one is easy, Paul is referring to when they enter heaven.
24 We were saved, and we have this hope. If we see what we are waiting for, that is not really hope. People do not hope for something they already have.25 But we are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently.
Here mythicists ask why Paul refers to a hope unseen when Jesus appeared to him and many others after his crucifixion. This is one is glaringly obvious. Whilst Jesus appeared to around 500 people after his death and resurrection, the people who Paul is writing to are not among them. There were thousands of Christians by this time, but not all of them had seen Jesus and not all of them were even in Judea but other nations.
1 Corinthians 1:7-8
7 so you have every gift from God while you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to come again.8 Jesus will keep you strong until the end so that there will be no wrong in you on the day our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.
Mythicists ask why Paul says they are waiting for Jesus to come. Duh, because it is the second coming he is mentioning. This is so obvious I have no idea why this is even bought up. Confusion arises because some translations do not have the word “again” I think but still, it is pretty obvious.
1 Corinthians 1:18-24
18 The teaching about the cross is foolishness to those who are being lost, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 It is written in the Scriptures:
"I will cause the wise to lose their wisdom;
I will make the wise unable to understand." — Isaiah 29:14
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the educated person? Where is the skilled talker of this world? God has made the wisdom of the world foolish.21 In the wisdom of God the world did not know God through its own wisdom. So God chose to use the message that sounds foolish to save those who believe.22 The Jews ask for miracles, and the Greeks want wisdom. 23 But we preach a crucified Christ. This causes the Jews to stumble and is foolishness to non-Jews. 24 But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks.
Mythicists ask why Paul states that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was considered foolishness if it was a historical event. This is answered because the shame and brutality involved in crucifixion would have put people off. Indeed, the shame of the cross caused the disciple to lose their faith until Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection. Also, the Resurrection Jesus underwent would have confused Jews and Pagans alike. I will talk more about this in another blog, probably either in one about the reliability of the NT or in defence of the Resurrection, as it one of many arguments why it is impossible the resurrection and crucifixion were made up.
1 Corinthians 4:11-13
11 Even to this very hour we do not have enough to eat or drink or to wear. We are often beaten, and we have no homes in which to live.12 We work hard with our own hands for our food. When people curse us, we bless them. When they hurt us, we put up with it.13 When they tell evil lies about us, we speak nice words about them. Even today, we are treated as though we were the garbage of the world—the filth of the earth.
Mythicists ask why Paul does not mention Jesus’ blessings to those who hunger. Quite simply because Paul is writing this to shame the Corinthians who questioned Paul’s credentials and commitments.
1 Corinthians 15:12-16
12 Now since we preached that Christ was raised from the dead, why do some of you say that people will not be raised from the dead?13 If no one is ever raised from the dead, then Christ has not been raised.14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is worth nothing, and your faith is worth nothing.15 And also, we are guilty of lying about God, because we testified of him that he raised Christ from the dead. But if people are not raised from the dead, then God never raised Christ.16 If the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised either.
Mythicists try and claim that Paul here is saying that belief in Christ is purely out of faith and so therefore Christians didn’t believe in a historical Jesus. This is completely absurd. Firstly, it is prudent to note that mythicists misunderstand the word faith to mean “blind-faith”. The Greek word translated as faith, pistis, means belief in something worthy of belief, literally, “loyalty to, or trust in, a deserving patron”. In other words, belief that is grounded in evidence. Secondly, the Greek verb translated to “testified”, martureo, literally means to “bear witness to” and in this context shows that Paul is talking about an actual event to bear witness to. Thirdly, this verse mentions God raising Christ from the dead. Mythicists try to claim this passage states the apostles saw this from visions or revelations from God. Yet as we can see from the literary context of the word martureo and Paul is talking about a real event. There is no idea of revelation being shown here whatsoever.
2 Corinthians 4:13-14
13 It is written in the Scriptures, "I believed, so I spoke." Our faith is like this, too. We believe, and so we speak.14 God raised the Lord Jesus from the dead, and we know that God will also raise us with Jesus. God will bring us together with you, and we will stand before him.
Mythicists bring up the same charge as they do against the previous verse. Once again, simply a case of mythicists misunderstanding what faith means.
23 Before this faith came, we were all held prisoners by the law. We had no freedom until God showed us the way of faith that was coming.24 In other words, the law was our guardian leading us to Christ so that we could be made right with God through faith.25 Now the way of faith has come, and we no longer live under a guardian.
Mythicists bring up the same charge as they do against the previous verse. Once again, simply a case of mythicists misunderstanding what faith means.
2 Think only about the things in heaven, not the things on earth.3 Your old sinful self has died, and your new life is kept with Christ in God. 4 Christ is your life, and when he comes again, you will share in his glory.
Mythicists ask why Paul says they are waiting for Jesus to come again. Duh, because it is the second coming he is mentioning. This is so obvious I have no idea why this is even bought up either.
1 Thessalonians 4:14
14 We believe that Jesus died and that he rose again. So, because of him, God will raise with Jesus those who have died.
Mythicists try and claim that Paul here is saying that belief in Christ is purely out of faith and so therefore Christians didn’t believe in a historical Jesus again. Once again, simply a case of mythicists misunderstanding what faith means.
1 Timothy 6:14-15
14 Do what you were commanded to do without wrong or blame until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.15 God will make that happen at the right time. He is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords.
Mythicists ask why Paul says they are waiting for Jesus to come again. Duh, because it is the second coming he is mentioning. This is so obvious I have no idea why this is even bought up either.
2 Timothy 1:9-10
9 saved us and made us his holy people. That was not because of anything we did ourselves but because of God's purpose and grace. That grace was given to us through Christ Jesus before time began,10 but it is now shown to us by the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus. He destroyed death, and through the Good News he showed us the way to have life that cannot be destroyed.
This is used by mythicists to claim Jesus never came to earth but his crucifixion and resurrection happened in a “heavenly realm”. Of course, for that work you have to assume what you seek to prove. In other words, circular reasoning and a priori assumptions.
12 But after Christ offered one sacrifice for sins, forever, he sat down at the right side of God.
This is also used by mythicists to claim Jesus never came to earth but his crucifixion and resurrection happened in a “heavenly realm”. Again, for that work you have to assume what you seek to prove. In other words, circular reasoning and a priori assumptions
1 From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To all of God's people who are scattered everywhere in the world:
Here mythicists ask why James does not mention he is a brother of Jesus. Given the late conversion of Jesus’ family, and the fact they doubted He was the messiah, then it would not have been something to brag about.
7 Brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord comes again. A farmer patiently waits for his valuable crop to grow from the earth and for it to receive the autumn and spring rains.
Mythicists ask why James says they are waiting for Jesus to come again. As with Paul, because it is the second coming he is mentioning. This is, again, so obvious I have no idea why this is even bought up.
1 Peter 1:4-5; 7
4 Now we hope for the blessings God has for his children. These blessings, which cannot be destroyed or be spoiled or lose their beauty, are kept in heaven for you.5 God's power protects you through your faith until salvation is shown to you at the end of time.
7 These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold, which can be proved to be pure by fire but will ruin. But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is shown to you.
Mythicists ask why Peter says they are still waiting for the blessings from God and ask why Peter says they are still waiting for God’s salvation. Again, Peter is referring to when they will enter heaven and the second coming.
1 Peter 2:12
12 People who do not believe are living all around you and might say that you are doing wrong. Live such good lives that they will see the good things you do and will give glory to God on the day when Christ comes again.
The same as above regarding the second coming.
1 Peter 5:4
4 Then when Christ, the Chief Shepherd, comes, you will get a glorious crown that will never lose its beauty.
Same as above.
1 John 4:14-15
14 We have seen and can testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God has God living inside, and that person lives in God.
Another attempt at claiming Jesus never came to earth.
Revelation 1:13; 14:14
13 and someone among the lampstands who was "like a Son of Man." He was dressed in a long robe and had a gold band around his chest.
14 Then I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and sitting on the white cloud was One who looked like a Son of Man He had a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
Same as above.
Therefore, as you can see, the epistles do reference teachings of Jesus and when they do not, the silence is not meaningful.
The Early Apologists and Church Fathers
Of course, the mythicists do not stop with Paul and the other New Testament epistle writers. They go on to say that, the early apologists and Church Fathers are silent on aspects of Jesus’ life and the Gospels themselves. Well, despite the obvious fact, they do mention aspects of Jesus’ life, as I have shown. I shall humour them and answer their claims anyway. Now mythicists try and claim that the reason why some mention Jesus and some do not is because there were divisions in early Christianity in that originally Christians never believed Christ was on earth and that those that did were a later sect that took it over. This idea is grounded in zero evidence whatsoever and so absurd it strains credulity. Firstly, mentions of the Gospels and the Book of Acts.
As I have noted earlier these early Christian writings mention aspects of Jesus’ life which I shall list here (with their dates): -
• Clement of Rome’s First Epistle, to the Corinthians (c. 96 A.D.)
• Ignatius of Antioch’s Epistle to the Trallians (c. 105-115 A.D.)
• Ignatius of Antioch’s Epistle to the Smyrneans (c. 105-115 A.D.)
• Ignatius of Antioch’s Epistle to the Magnesians (c. 105-115 A.D.)
• Quadratus of Athens’ words as recorded by Eusebius in his History (precise date unknown)
• Aristides the Athenian’s Apology to Hadrian (c. 117-138 A.D)
• Justin Martyr’s First Apology (c. 150-155 A.D.)
• Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho (c. 155-160 A.D.)
• Justin Martyr’s Second Apology (c. 150-155 A.D.)
• Hegesippus’ History of the Church (precise date unknown)
I shall now list Christian writings that I did not mention earlier (with their dates also): -
• Clement of Rome’s Second Epistle (c. 140-160 A.D.)
• The Didache (c. 80-120 A.D.)
• Papias’ Exposition (c. 110-140 A.D.)
• The Epistle of Barnabas (c. 70-131 A.D.)
• Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians (c. 110-140 A.D.)
• The Shepherd of Hermas (c. 88-97 A.D.)
So the claim there is a silence in the early Church fathers and that belief in a historical Jesus was a later development is completely insane and without any merit whatsoever. Not even the heretic Marcion denied Christ came to earth. If that were not enough, the belief that Jesus never came to earth would have been more likely to succeed than belief in a historical Jesus (I shall explain why in a later blog). If this belief in a mythical Jesus did exist, mythicists would have to explain why belief in a mythical Jesus died off when belief in a historical Jesus succeeded. Proponents of these claims just have no legs to stand on.
I shall now address the list of secular authors who, according to mythicists, “should have mentioned Jesus. Whether they were even in a position to do so, let alone if there were reasons why they should have mentioned Jesus remains to be seen.
As aforementioned, there is no good reason why any of these writers should have mentioned Jesus and for the following reasons: -
• From a historians’ perspective, He was a blip on the screen. He never addressed the Roman Senate, He never wrote any extensive Greek philosophical treatises, He never set foot in Rome, He never set foot outside of Palestine and He was not a member of any known political party. The only reason He is mentioned at all was because the success and spread of Christianity.
• Jesus was executed as a criminal via crucifixion, which was the most shameful and gruesome form of death available at the time. Death by crucifixion was the ultimate humiliation in the eyes of the Jews and the Gentiles, which is why historians would have ignored Jesus. In Jesus’ time, the Romans would not have seen Jesus as anyone different to the thousands of criminals that were crucified every day.
• There were other so-called Messiahs at the time of Jesus who posed a larger threat than Jesus did. One unnamed Egyptian caused such an upheaval that the Romans had to send troops after him.
• Jesus associated with people of quite disreputable character, such as tax collectors, fishermen and prostitutes.
• Jesus’ teachings did not go well with and were often offensive to the moral and religious orders of the day.
• Jesus was poor, rural, Jewish man who lived in a world run by wealthy urbanites who looked down on Jews as a superstitious people.
Quite simply, the only reason Jesus is mentioned was because of the success and spread of Christianity. I would be suspicious if we had mentions of Jesus by historians earlier on, because Christianity had barely started then and under the worst conditions one could start a new religion. What we do have is what we would expect.
Philo is the favourite writer bought up mythicists, whom they claim should have mentioned but did not. Philo was an Egyptian born Jewish philosopher who lived primarily in Alexandria. Whether or not Philo was in a position to have made mention to Jesus is highly doubtful considering he died in 50 A.D., which was before Christianity had had chance to gain a significant following. It is argued that because Philo’s Hellenistic logos ideas are similar to Christian doctrines regarding the Holy Spirit, he should have mentioned Jesus. Of course, the Holy Spirit was well established in Jewish thought in the book of Proverbs and in the Jewish Wisdom tradition. A simpler explanation would be that he did not mention Jesus to shame Christianity also he did not mention a number of famous religious figures like Gamaliel who were deeply venerated, so why would Philo mention Jesus over someone like Gamaliel?
Apart from teaching Nero, Seneca also wrote a number of personal epistles, essays, tragic plays as well as philosophical treatises on ethics. Mythicists claim he should have mentioned Jesus, of course, this assumes that Seneca was even aware of what the teachings of Jesus actually were. This also assumes that Seneca would have had occasion to mention Jesus, as what we have from Seneca are tragic plays featuring Greek historical figures, philosophical dialogues on topics such as anger and peace of the soul and works such as Natural Questions, which contains theoretical surveys regarding natural phenomenon. In reality, Seneca was too busy flattering and trying to please Nero, which was not easy and no laughing matter. Especially, considering Nero eventually ordered Seneca to commit suicide to prove Seneca’s loyalty.
Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Younger’s uncle, Pliny the Elder was a writer on science and morality issues and, as such, his writings would not have had any reason to refer to Jesus. His work Natural History is a multi-volume history on a variety of scientific subjects such as geography, meteorology, mineralogy, zoology, botany, cosmology and astronomy. Furthermore, he was a naturalist and a sceptic. Consider now, Pliny’s own words as written in his Natural History:
“I consider it, therefore, an indication of human weakness to inquire into the figure and form of God. For whatever God be, if there be any other God , and wherever he exists, he is all sense, all sight, all hearing, all life, all mind, and all within himself”.
“But it is ridiculous to suppose, that the great head of all things, whatever it be, pays any regard to human affairs.” Natural History, II, 5-7
Juvenal wrote satires.
Martial wrote poems and satires.
Arrian was a second century writer who wrote works on Alexander the Great.
Petronius wrote a novel called the Satyricon that describes the adventures of the narrator.
Dion Prusaeus was an orator.
Paterculus published around 30 A.D. and since Jesus had only just begun His ministry then and since He never set foot in Rome, there is no possibly way Paterculus could have referenced Jesus.
Appian wrote a history of Rome up until the time of Trajan. Only half of his works have survived intact anyway.
Theon of Smyrna
Theon of Smyrna was a mathematician and astronomer. He wrote a manual on how prime numbers and geometrical numbers where interrelated with astronomy.
A playwright and satirist.
Plutarch wrote a number of essays and mini-biographies on Greek and Roman heroes. In addition, since the Romans looked down on people they regarded as superstitious, like the Jews and Egyptians, then there would have been no reason to mention Jesus as Plutarch fails to mention famous Jewish sages such as Gamaliel, Hillel and Shammai.
We do not have any of his works left to us.
There were half a dozen men with this name. The closest to Jesus' time was a grammarian and linguist from the 2nd Century.
An orator and rhetorician.
Apart from a single poem, all we have are a few books on the civil war between Pompey and Caesar.
Epictetus did not even write anything at all. All of his teachings were recorded solely by his students.
All we have from Silius Italicus is a poem about the Second Punic War, 200 years before Jesus was born.
Statius was a Roman poet.
Ptolemy was an astronomer and mathematician from the 2nd Century.
A 2nd century painter.
Valerius Maximus wrote a book of anecdotes for orators.
A Roman geographer from Spain
Wrote biographies of Alexander the Great.
A Greek traveller and philosopher who wrote a book entitled Descriptions of Greece
A 1st Century poet.
A Roman historian who wrote a history of Rome up until the reign of Augustus.
A 2nd century philosopher and rhetorician.
Phaedrus wrote fables.
Wrote a biography on Apollonius of Tyana
A 2nd Century lawyer.
Wrote on trees and agriculture.
On orator who wrote on political, literary and oratory subjects.
Appion of Alexandria
A 2nd century historian who wrote a history of Rome.
Of those who could have written about Jesus, there still is no reason why. The primary argument by mythicists is: Author talks about X, Jesus did X, therefore Author should have mentioned Jesus, which is fallacious. Most of these authors had no reason to mention Jesus and did not even write on subjects that could have.
Silence is Not Proof of Non-Existence
We have more evidence for the existence of Jesus than we do for Tiberius Caesar, Socrates and even Alexander the Great. We have 52 sources that mention Jesus within 150 years of his life whereas we have only 10 sources for Tiberius Caesar within 150 years of his life. The only evidence we have of Socrates and his teachings are 4 written accounts written by his students, whereas for Jesus we have sources from Christians, Jews and Pagans. The earliest detailed biographies for Alexander the Great were written three hundred years after his life whilst the Gospels were written a mere 30-40 years after Jesus’ life.
Mike Licona noted that in 2008, out of a survey of 3,000 British teens polled by UKTV Gold, 28% believed that Winston Churchill was a myth and the majority believed Sherlock Holmes was a historical person. The only reason sceptics have the luxury to use this poor argument is due to two reasons: ignorance and the amount of time between now and the writing of the Gospels. Of course, given that Jesus is the foundation of Christianity, it is no wonder why some so-called sceptics will stoop to such levels. Given the vast quantity and quality of evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, no credible scholar alive holds the position that Jesus never existed.
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