I have previously pointed out – here – that one of the major inaccuracies in the entire Bible is the suggestion that the Ten Commandments – the very foundation of Christianity – are unique to Christianity, or originated with Christianity. They didn’t. They originated with a pre-Pharoah tribe of Egypt called the Kemet, whose concept of truth, law and justice was consolidated into a theory called ‘Ma’at’. The ten commandments of the Bible are derived from the 42 principles of Ma’at.
But what if the glaring lie that the ten commandments were uniquely handed to Moses at the top of Mount Sinai, was not the biggest inaccuracy in the Bible? What if the biggest lie in the Bible was that Jesus existed at all?
Biblical historians generally agree that a man named Jesus probably did exist. Though, they never tend to give any strong evidence for his existence. Nothing written from the time he was alive. Nothing for decades after his death. It is all hear-say. If we are to give such power over people’s lives to the Church, we should at least provide evidence that the entire base of the Church itself is credible. At the moment, it really isn’t. Why must we resign ourselves to believe he existed, when we have pretty much no evidence? It seems far more likely that Jesus didn’t exist, and i’ll explain why.
I have been convinced for a number of years that there was never a man called Jesus as described by the Gospels or by Paul. He just didn’t exist. I will try and give as good an explanation as possible for coming to this conclusion, starting with Raglan’s Scale, moving onto Biblical inaccuracies, addressing an argument made famous by C.S Lewis, a quick glimpse at Paul, and ending with the Crucifixion, and quite possibly the most important element of my claim that Jesus never existed; Philo of Alexandria.
In 1936 Lord Raglan wrote a book that attempted to rationalise ancient religious hero worshipping by their shared characteristics, and rank them. The more characteristics that fit the so-called hero, the less likely they were to be real, and simply following a tried and tested method of hero creation. If they had less than five of the characteristics that Raglan sets out in his book, then they are more likely to be historical figures. The characteristics were as follows:
1. The hero’s mother is a royal virgin
2. His father is a king and
3. often a near relative of the mother, but
4. the circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
5. he is also reputed to be the son of a god
6. at birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or maternal grandfather, to kill him, but
7. He is spirited away, and
8. Reared by foster-parents in a far country
9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but
10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
11. After a victory over the king and or giant, dragon, or wild beast
12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor and
13. becomes king
14. For a time he reigns uneventfully and
15. Prescribes laws but
16. later loses favor with the gods and or his people and
17. Is driven from from the throne and the city after which
18. He meets with a mysterious death
19. often at the top of a hill.
20. his children, if any, do not succeed him.
21. his body is not buried, but nevertheless
22. he has one or more holy sepulchres.
- Each mythical hero is given a score out of 22 depending on how closely their lives follow these characteristics. For Raglan, Oedipus scores the highest with 21 out of 22. Here is a ranked list of ancient heroes:
How Some Heros Scored
Oedipus scores 21
Theseus scores 20
Moses scores 20
Dionysus scores 19
Jesus scores 19
Romulus scores 18
Perseus scores 18
Hercules scores 17
Llew Llaw Gyffes scores 17
Bellerophon scores 16
Jason scores 15
Mwindo scores 14
Robin Hood scores 13
Pelops scores 13
Apollo scores 11
Sigurd scores 11.
- Jesus makes the top 5. By Raglan’s scale, it is more likely that Apollo existed, than Jesus. The Jesus myth seems to follow almost perfectly – the mould for religious hero creation. This of course doesn’t necessarily mean that Jesus never existed, it would however be quite the coincidence if he just so happened to follow the exact pattern of hero creation. But if we are to still believe Jesus was an actual historical figure, we must ask…. why not Apollo too? Why not Mwindo? Mwindo is more likely to exist than Jesus, and Mwindo is a figure who is said to have travelled to “the underworld”.
The Bible is excellent at rewritting history. It is wonderful at contradicting the life’s work of so many great history scholars. We know for example, that there is no historical mention of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents as mentioned in Matthew 2:16-18. This is quite plainly invented history, much like the Exodus in the OT. There are other important aspects of the Jesus story, that are also clearly invented:
2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
- It is in Luke that we get the story of Jesus’ birth. Luke suggests that the reason the family of Jesus travelled to Bethlehem was because Augustus issued a census of ‘the entire Roman world’ so that Joseph, being a descendent of David, had to go back to the town of his forefather.
This short description, given by Luke, is entirely nonsense. Put aside the fact that a Roman census absolutely never forced people to go back to the town of a certain generation of ancestor, and put aside the fact that we now can only really trace our lineage back a few generations whilst Joseph seems to have been able to trace his back thousands of years (unlikely), there is no evidence whatsoever that Augustus ordered an Empire wide census to take place throughout his entire 40 year reign. It isn’t like we don’t know much about Augustus; he is one of the few Emperors that historians have a wide knowledge about, and not once, in all the literature written about Augustus, or at the time of Augustus, alludes in any way to a census. The only time it’s mentioned, is in the gospel of Luke.
Perhaps then, Luke was just a little bit incompetent his historical accuracy (which in itself, means the entire Bible should be called into question) and was in fact referring to the Census of Quirinius in 7ad. Quirinius was governor of Syria and proposed a census for tax purposes. Again, this didn’t mean everyone had to travel back to the land of a certain generation. The problem with this is that if Luke was referring to this, he then places Jesus birth around 7ad. It gets problematic, because the Gospel of Matthew states:
1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
- Herod died in 4bc. 11 years before the Census of Quirinius.
Either Luke is wrong, Matthew is wrong, or as I suspect…. given that they were both written decades after the death of Jesus, by people who had never met Jesus, nor lived close to Jesus…. both are wrong. There have been attempts to correct this mistake, all have been disastrous attempts to hold onto something that is just massively inaccurate. In the 1550s, the cardinal and “historian” Baronius tried to argue that Quirinius must have been governor more than once. In the same era, John Calvin tried to suggest that the census was ordered by Augustus before Herod’s death, but not implemented until after his death (an entire decade? really?). None of which has any historical evidence to back it up. It is unsurprising that Luke got it all wrong, given that he was writing after 70ad (he mentions the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70ad. Jesus supposedly died in 34ad. Quite the gap).
The one thing that is obvious from the gospels, is that Jesus had ‘divine’ parentage. This isn’t new. Julius Caesar claimed to be descended from the Goddess Venus. This again, follows the myth creation mould perfectly.
So, we know that the gospels really do not have any idea what they’re trying to represent. There are glaring contradictions between the accounts. And they were written by people who were writing second, third, maybe fourth hand information, three generations away from the actual events they describe.
Linking somewhat to historical inaccuracies, the author C.S Lewis attempts to draw us into a ‘proof’ for the divinity of Jesus by offering a false ‘trilemma’ argument:
” am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell.”
“We are faced, then, with a frightening alternative. This man we are talking about either was (and is) just what He said, or else a lunatic, or something worse. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God. God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form.”
- There is a falsity here. Lewis is claiming that there are only two possible alternatives to the divine Jesus. Either he’s divine, or he’s a lunatic, or he’s ‘the Devil of hell’. Which suggests ‘the Devil of hell’ actually exists, which automatically presumes God exists. This is an argument, already presuming a God. He doesn’t question the existence of God, the Devil, nor Jesus in the first place, nor does he consider the possibility that a man named Jesus perhaps existed, and a legend of hear say grew up after the death of the human Jesus. It goes something like this:
1. Jesus was either a mad man, a liar, or divine.
2. Jesus was neither a mad man, nor a liar.
3. Therefore, Jesus was divine.
- On the surface, perfectly logical. But dig deeper, and it becomes very problematic on several levels. Firstly, “…or divine” is a bit of a leap, given that Jesus makes no such claim as we understand it today, to be the son of God. We know that the only real claims on divinity – and often cited – come from the Gospel of John. We cannot take this seriously, as it’s the last gospel to be written, and so almost certainly inspired firstly by the other gospels (Mark in particular), and by the consensus and traditions of the early Christian church. So, “..or divine” is not an acceptable addition to the premise. Secondly, why are those the only three choices? Why not “Jesus was either a mad man, a liar, divine, didn’t actually exist, or a later legend?” In fact, i’m sure we could all think of many more choices to add. And so, by not including “or didn’t exist” as an option in point 1, it already presupposes that he did. And so we should add point “0.5. Jesus Existed” before Point 1. Point 2. is irrelevant as point 1 is incomplete. Though on point 2, how can we be certain Jesus was neither a mad man nor a liar? C.S Lewis fails on this one, and yet it is often used by Christian apologists as a proof of Jesus’ divinity. They use the Bible to ‘prove’ Jesus was neither mad nor a liar. Fallacy after fallacy.
Paul, the man that Christian scholars point to as evidence for the existence of Jesus does not mention his divinity, his virgin birth, or his miracles. Paul didn’t know Jesus; never met him. Simply had a “vision”. I’m afraid I can’t base historical or divine accuracy of Christ, on a supernatural “vision”. Nor is there any evidence, actually, to suggest Paul was real. Paul was supposedly hunted down by 200 soldiers, 70 horsemen, and 200 spears men according to Acts. There is absolutely no evidence for any of that actually happening. Not one reference other than the Bible. For a man who supposedly caused quite a lot of ripples in the ancient World, in a well documented and understood region, to not be mentioned once is ludicrous.
Paul is the link between the death of Jesus, the thirty years in between, and the writing of the gospels. So, how did the gospel writers come across all this information about the divine birth, the years in the wilderness, the miracles, the Jewish council (who supposedly met up on Passover eve to condemn Jesus…… that just wouldn’t have happened), the wise men, the disciples, and every other aspect of the life of Jesus that Paul had no knowledge of and never spoke about?
Philo of Alexandria.
Perhaps the biggest thorn in the side of Christianity in their quest to prove the existence of Jesus, is Philo of Alexandria. Philo lived a long life throughout the entire supposed life of Christ, lived in and around the areas affected by Christ, and wrote about the Jews of the time extensively. He was in or around Jerusalem when Herod supposedly sent out the order to massacre the children, he was in Jerusalem for Christ’s supposed entry into the city with a plethora of adoring fans. He was there when Christ would have been crucified, when the darkness came over the city, when the earth shook with the wrath of God. Philo lived through it all. And yet, in all his writings, he mentions none of it. He doesn’t acknowledge any earth shaking, he doesn’t mention a man who apparently had the ear of thousands, he doesn’t mention the trial on the eve of passover, he mentions nothing of the sort. The name Jesus, is not even suggested by Philo.
It is not like he would not have known, that it might all have been kept from him. Philo’s nephew was married to the daughter of Herod Agrippa – the ruler of ‘the Jews’ in the region after the exile of the evil Herod of Bible fame. Philo’s brother was one of the richest men in the area. It is impossible that Philo would have not known of such an important and beloved-by-the-masses son of God. The reason that Philo does not mention Jesus in over 850,000 words that he wrote of the time period, is because Jesus didn’t exist.
Philo isn’t the only person at the time who didn’t mention Jesus. No one else did either. Not even Jesus himself. There is nothing written by Jesus in the history books (for such an important man, you’d have thought something might have survived), there is nothing written by any contemporary’s of Jesus, written about Jesus. The first mentions come decades later.
Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Ressurrection may seem miraculous to we with 21st century rationale. But in 1st Century Judea, it was nothing special. Everyone was doing it. It was the cool thing to do. Jesus did it within the Christian tradition. Izanagi did it in Japanese mythology. Dionysus in Greek mythology, along with many other parallels between this god and Jesus, did it. The Phoenix in Arabian tradition rises from the ashes. Ba’al of the Caananites around the Levant did it. Inanna, who, quite scarily was the Sumerian goddess of sex… and war, did it. So you see, Jesus rising from the dead was pretty common, and had been done before. He was nothing special.
In fact, even regular dead people were rising back to life:
….the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
Matt 27: 52-53 (NKJV)
- We picture Jesus rising from the dead. Nowhere in any lesson, do Christian teachers tell us that dead people started breaking out of their graves and walking the Earth, like a mad zombie attack. What this shows is, raising from the dead isn’t exactly an attribute that only Jesus possessed. Everyone was doing it.
The death of Jesus is the central point of the Christian religion. The cross is the most revered symbol on the planet. Churches are built in its design. So, you would think, given its importance, the Gospels would be consistent on this central event. But no, they contradict each other…. again.
Firstly, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all agree that Simon carried the cross to the place of execution. John however – along with Mel Gibson – have decided that Jesus carried the cross. This is the story as we picture it. As suggested by one gospel. The gospel of Thomas, which was excluded by early Church leaders for being too heretical (not conforming) does not mention the crucifixion or resurrection at all. The gospel of Peter, says that Herod, not Pilate ordered the death of Jesus. Peter also says that Jesus was resurrected, and ascended on the same day, not days later.
According to John, Jesus last words were “It is finished“. According to Luke, they were “Father, into your hands I commit your spirit“. In Matthew and Mark they were “My god, why have you forsaken me?” … he also said “Woman, behold your son” to his mother, he also said “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do“…… Jesus said way too much for his final words. In a Court of Law, the gospel writers, as witnesses, would be deemed unreliable.
Who did Jesus first magically reappear to? Well, if you believe Mark, to all the disciples. If you believe Matthew, to Mary Magdalene. If you believe Luke, to Cleopas. Truth is, the gospel writers are clearly guessing. They have no idea. Because, as shown previously, the one link – tenuous as it is – that they have, is Paul, and Paul didn’t witness any of it. There is no reason to accept such weak hearsay as fact, or even historically probable, in any way.
The theory of where the myth of Jesus actually came from varies to large degrees. It has been hypothesised for over a century that Jesus may not have existed. In the early 20th Century a Mathematics professor from New Orleans named William Benjamin Smith put forth the idea that a small Jewish cult existed centuries before the supposed birth of Jesus that believed in a God named Jesus. A sect that essentially grew into what it is today by incorporating myths from other sects and evolving over time, becoming more inclusive. Smith points to a couple of suggestions by the third Century Theologian Hippolytus, that there existed a pre-Jesus sect of Nazaraean’s.
Ellegard argues that Paul was simply a mad man convinced that the World was set to end, and when it didn’t, the gospels arose to give credit to his claims amongst his followers and believers who now had very little to believe in. Ellegard’s articles are well worth a read, and can be found here.
This has been a pretty short introduction into why I’m almost certain that the historical, and divine Jesus as depicted in the Bible never existed. Nonetheless, it can all be summerised quite simply by stating that there is nowhere, other than the Bible (and the gospels that were not accepted into the final edition of the Bible) that mention Jesus, or any part of his life from any contemporary source. Nothing written by Jesus. Nothing written by any of his followers. Nothing written by any historian of the time. Just, nothing. This suggests to me, that there was not a divine, nor historical figure of Jesus present at the times suggested. The implications for Christianity are obvious; if Christ was either not divine, or didn’t exist, the power of the Church is illegitimate.
Christianity began with the gospel writers. Not with Jesus. Not with Paul. It began with gospel writers, and history was then rewritten to fit their story, for reasons of power. Nothing more.
Even if we were to suppose by some huge leap that Jesus did exist as depicted by the Bible; there is no reason to believe what he says was true. Being born of a virgin does not automatically make you dependable or trustworthy. Power should be able to legitimate itself. The power of the Christian religion over the poorest and vulnerable throughout history, the bloodshed, the forced conversions, the excesses of faith by revered figures such as Mother Theresa. The treatment of homosexuality, the subjugation of women, the regressive attitudes toward social progression and scientific advancement. All of it is illegitimate, borne out of the premise of either a very ambiguous historical narrative, or a completely invented narrative. Further, if Jesus was a completely invented figure; it would seem to suggest that Islam plagarised much of its religious claims, from Christian traditions. The implications for the non-existence of Jesus, are huge, and should be the topic of intense historical research and critical analysis.
For Part II of this, I have written here, and deals entirely with Christian claims that the writings of Josephus ‘prove’ the existence of Jesus.
For Part III of this, I have written here, to focus exclusively on the Annals of Tacitus; another often referred to source.