Timothy Freke was flipping through an old academic book when he came across a religious image that some would call obscene.
It was a drawing of a third-century amulet depicting a naked man nailed to a cross. The man was born of a virgin, preached about being "born again" and had risen from the dead after crucifixion, Freke says.
But the name on the amulet wasn't Jesus. It was a pseudonym for Osiris-Dionysus, a pagan god in ancient Mediterranean culture. Freke says the amulet was evidence of something that sounds like sacrilege -- and some would say it is: that Jesus never existed. He was a myth created by first-century Jews who modeled him after other dying and resurrected pagan gods, says Freke, author of "The Jesus Mysteries: Was the 'Original Jesus' a Pagan God?"
"If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don't think anyone would be outraged," says Freke, one of a group of mythicists who say Jesus never existed. "It's a teaching story. What we're saying is that the Jesus story is an allegory. It's a parable of the spiritual journey."
On Easter Sunday, millions of Christians worldwide mark the resurrection of Jesus. Though Christians clash over many issues, almost all agree that he existed.
But there is another view of Jesus that's been emerging, one that strikes at the heart of the Easter story. A number of authors and scholars say Jesus never existed. Such assertions could have been ignored in an earlier age. But in the age of the Internet and self-publishing, these arguments have gained enough traction that some of the world's leading New Testament scholars feel compelled to publicly take them on.
There is no doubt that Christian mythology was adapted from many other previous mythology. They even borrowed old testament stories and reworked them for the new testament. Even Christian New Testament scholars don't and can't deny this. But it is very easy for the uniformed average Christian to poo poo anything their church or clergy did not teach them. Furthermore they will not investigate it themselves for fear of finding out their wrong or for fear of becoming demon possessed or something.
So it will be a long hard road before the truth of religion is known by most folks.
Meantime, Richard Carrier uses Bayes Theorem to debunk the NT with On The Historicity of Jesus ... and it has the virtue of being peer-reviewed. Way I understand it, Carrier has created a fair amount of controversy with that piece.
That's why I really appreciate Richard Carrier. He challenges even skeptics and backs up his conclusions with research. He has something valid to back up every point. He is considered somewhat radical, but when you can back up your conclusions you become a leader of new and better more reasonable thought. Yes at some point someone will prove him wrong on something....win win he has led thought in a new and provocative direction.
One thing foremost in my mind on decoding Jesus is very plain in the gospels and even the book of Acts. It's the simple fact that the destruction of the temple and the events of 70 AD stand out as a fact. Believers will shrug it off as prophesy and just go on with other things. It's much more than that.
The destruction of 70 AD and the defeat that came is proof these books were written after 70 AD.
This shows the creation and manipulation of belief in the legend and myths surrounding this man Jesus. We find that Paul should be dead by at least 5 years by the time of 70 AD and someone has went to great lengths to invent the Jesus story and put Paul right in the middle of it. By Paul's own words he was "the greatest apostle of all." When bible believers accept this nonsense they accept:
1. The bible as proof of prophesy.
2. Paul as the special agent of Jesus even if the 2 never met.
3. Christianity becomes "Paulianity" and is the main religion to this very day.
These facts alone show me that someone went out of their way to make this all up. The early church fathers have claims dating back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. That's too far removed to know anything but people swallow it all because they want to. Just change the timeline and you have no problems. Become a freethinker in the matter and you have many problems.
Modern religion even suggests that all you need is Jesus. Forget everything else and just follow his teachings. He teaches you how to live and at least it's all a "good idea." It's no wonder that many of us are beginning to doubt the historical Jesus. He seems to be a myth made up of more than just one man.
My final line is why do we have to follow anyone? Why do we insist that life would be so much better if there was a god?
That's because YOUR god is always the real deal, while everyone else's god is just a bunch of hooey. To such fatuous assertions, I respond with the following:
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.
-- Stephen F. Roberts