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Comment by Luara on September 30, 2014 at 5:37am

Bart Ehrman writes in Did Jesus Exist? that Jesus wasn't considered to be God by the early Christians.  What happened was that Jews had a tradition of the Messiah, who was a leader they were expecting to appear to rescue the Jews from their oppressors.  In the Roman occupation, many Jews were hoping the Messiah would appear.  The Messiah wasn't envisioned as a deity.

The followers of Jesus were hoping that Jesus was the Messiah.  Then he got crucified, conclusively ending the Messianic hopes in Jesus.  Or so the Romans hoped, because would-be Messiahs spelled trouble for them.

But that didn't happen.  Instead, there were claims that a resurrected Jesus was appearing - first to one or two people, later to many people.  A resurrection myth grew and snowballed.

So when Jesus was crucified, the followers of Jesus didn't abandon their idea that he was the Messiah.  Their idea morphed into a concept where God arranged for the Messiah to be crucified, for a good purpose:  rescuing us from our sins.

So why would I trust Bart Ehrman?  He's a professor of religious studies at UNC Chapel Hill, a secular university, and a well-respected Bible scholar.  He's not a Christian - I do find the assertions of Christians about Jesus' historicity questionable.  He's shown no reluctance to be skeptical about the Bible, indeed he's delighted atheists with popular books debunking conservative Christian claims. 

And his arguments, his explanations of how historians reason about these things, make sense to me.  His book Did Jesus Exist? is a good explanation of why Bible scholars are sure there was a historical Jesus. 

I find the story of Jesus easy to rationalize.  It does look to me like truth that was extensively distorted and glamorized by people's hopes.  Bart Ehrman also writes about the mainstream picture of Jesus as an apocalyptic Jewish preacher in Did Jesus Exist?.  To me, that's interesting - who was the actual Jesus?  Was he actually admirable?  A charlatan doing magic tricks?  An idealist?  Crazy?  Did Jesus really stand out from the other Jewish preachers at the time, or was it just a historical accident that he "turned into God"?  How did people think back then?

Comment by Luara on September 30, 2014 at 5:17am

Yes, if someone has an interest in misrepresenting reality, that's likely to lead to their misrepresenting reality.  That's true now and it was true back in Jesus' time also.  That consideration is crucial in historians' assessments of the reliability of sources. 

Those who believe in christ, as all the stories that surround him or his followers reveal, they "borrow" from the natives with whom they try to convert.

That's an interesting idea, that stories about Jesus might have been paganized due to Christians wanting to convert pagans.  I don't know how much that happens.  Christianity has become mixed with local traditions a lot, by the locals.  Missionaries introduce Christian ideas, and they are adopted and changed to fit the local culture. 

Bart Ehrman discusses mythicist claims about parallels between Jesus stories and pagan religions in his book Did Jesus Exist?.  Ehrman discusses Graves' book The Sixteen Crucified Saviors and Zindler's essay How Jesus Got a Life.  He says Graves gives no sources for many of his statements.  They seem to be made up out of thin air.  Similarly for Zindler.

And the claims in such sources are propagated around the internet.  The Listverse site that Joan linked to, mentions Graves' book as a source. 

Bart Ehrman says that some early Christian sources such as the church father Tertullian, claim there were similarities between their own religion and pagan mystery religions.  But they had a specific interest in doing so - the Christians were being persecuted, so Tertullian wanted to present Christianity as similar to pagan religions that weren't being persecuted.  Since a mystery religion is a mystery, people can get away with making stuff up about it. 

Bart Ehrman says that some mythicists have gotten their parallels from these early Christian writings.  But he says, since those sources have an interest in misrepresenting the pagan religions, and no good source of knowledge about the pagan religions, they can't be trusted.

It's surprising that these wild claims survive, when all you have to do is to dig up a reputable disinterested source on the myth. 

Richard Carrier does say that December 25 was the birthday of several solar deities, since it was the winter solstice in an older calendar.  But he says sources don't mention December 25 as Jesus' birthday until  several centuries AD.  So that claim could be true, but it has no bearing on Jesus' historicity.  The Jesus nativity story is generally considered by biblical scholars to be made up. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 30, 2014 at 2:37am

Luara, very good observation! I didn't check farther than the one source, nor did I check its validity. OOppss! Well, that does put me on the spot to get reliable sources. If they are there, I will find them. However, the principle seems to pass on down through history. Those who believe in christ, as all the stories that surround him or his followers reveal, they "borrow" from the natives with whom they try to convert. I'm too tired tonight to begin the search, just give me a little time and I will correct my blunder. 

Comment by Luara on September 29, 2014 at 5:36pm

You didn't answer the question

It's the responsibility of the person providing the information to make sure their sources are reliable.

In this case, Joan cited a Listverse site that quotes some books by mythicists. 

Just because somebody wrote it in a book, doesn't make it true. 

The quality of the "info" about Horus should give you an idea of the quality of the rest of it.  If they're willing to claim that Horus was born of a virgin, there's no reason to give credibility to the rest of it.

Just because someone cites a garbage source, doesn't mean I should spend the next hour refuting each single claim. 

Here's the myth of Attis of Phyrgia.  Does it sound anything like what Joan quoted? 

Yes, it's Horus-shit.  May be some truth in there, but not much. 

Comment by Pat on September 29, 2014 at 4:23pm

You didn't answer the question. Is all the other information on that site false. And, if so, you sources are? Something more than a mere opinion would be helpful.

Comment by Luara on September 29, 2014 at 4:18pm

your reliable sources that verify this statement are......?

They are statements from Jesus mythicists, inaccurate as you can verify piece by piece if you look up sources independent of mythicism. 

Comment by Pat on September 29, 2014 at 4:16pm

I'll grant you the Isis myth did not make her a virgin. She banged her brother Osiris to create Horus. However, one error does not, in and of itself, destroy all the information that she cited to . What about Attis, Zarathustra, Dionysus, Buddha, Odysseus, Heracles, Glycon, etc.? Is all that false also?

Comment by Luara on September 29, 2014 at 4:08pm

The info from Joan about Jesus-like figures is not from reliable sources. 

For example, the origin myth of Horus is that he was born to the goddess Isis, who reassembled her murdered and dismembered husband Osiris, giving him a magic penis because his original one was eaten by a fish. 

Isis was no virgin, and Osiris was a god, but not a monotheistic God. 

Comment by Pat on September 29, 2014 at 4:06pm

The info from Joan about Jesus-like figures is not from reliable sources. 

And, your reliable sources that verify this statement are......?

Comment by Joan Denoo on September 29, 2014 at 3:45pm

Clever!  I tried to imagine which one of these to whom you referred:

Horus: Born of a virgin. Only begotten son of the God. Birth heralded by the star Sirius, the morning star. Ancient Egyptians paraded a manger and child representing Horus through the streets at the time of the winter solstice (about DEC-21). 

Attis of Phrygia: Born on December 25 of a virgin. He was considered the savior who was slain for the salvation of mankind. His body as bread was eaten by his worshippers. 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, h was resurrected.

Zoroaster/Zarathustra: "born of a virgin and “immaculate conception by a ray of divine reason.” He was baptized 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 baptized 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 expected a “second coming” in the virgin-born Saoshynt or Savior, who is to come in 2341 AD., he begin his ministry at age 30, ushering in a golden age."

Dionysus: born of a virgin on December 25 and, as the Holy Child, was placed in a manger. "He was a traveling 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 25. 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,” Savior,” “Redeemer,” “Sin Bearer,” Anointed One,” and the “Alpha and Omega.” 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."

10 Christ-like Figures Who Pre-Date Jesus



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