Christian book admits Jesus mythicism is having unprecedented influence

In January 2013, biased New Testament scholar Maurice Casey published an anti-mythicist rant called Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths? The book contemptuously misrepresents my work in a string of ad hominem attacks and fallacies. Of course, I’ve addressed a significant portion of his arguments already, but he’s willfully ignored me in order to present his rebuttals as something new, brilliant, decisive and not discussed before.

In this book, the now-deceased Casey is simply shoring up the faith at all costs. The fact will remain that the “Jesus Christ” of the New Testament is a fictional composite of characters, and that a composite of multiple “people” is no one.

Not  ‘Did Jesus Exist?’

In this regard, it is inaccurate to represent the debate as “whether or not Jesus existed.” There were MANY Jesuses in antiquity, so, yes, one or more Jesus existed. It is none of their stories being told in the fictional gospel tale, however. What IS being told in the gospel story are the MYTHS of preceding cultures reworked to revolve around a particular ethnicity.

No matter how many times one regurgitates the same debunked arguments trying to “prove Jesus existed,” one will fail because that’s not the proper debate, and these weak efforts at providing historicity for a fictional character will be as effective as proving Gulliver existed.

Mythicism’s Popularity

Here is Casey’s book summary:

Did Jesus exist? In recent years there has been a massive upsurge in public discussion of the view that Jesus did not exist. This view first found a voice in the 19th century, when Christian views were no longer taken for granted. Some way into the 20th century, this school of thought was largely thought to have been utterly refuted by the results of respectable critical scholarship (from both secular and religious scholars).

Now, many unprofessional scholars and bloggers (‘mythicists’), are gaining an increasingly large following for a view many think to be unsupportable. It is starting to influence the academy, more than that it is starting to influence the views of the public about a crucial historical figure. Maurice Casey, one of the most important Historical Jesus scholars of his generation takes the ‘mythicists’ to task in this landmark publication. Casey argues neither from a religious respective, nor from that of a committed atheist. Rather he seeks to provide a clear view of what can be said about Jesus, and of what can’t.

Thanks for admitting that in recent years “there has been a massive upsurge in public discussion of the view that Jesus did not exist.” And that “many unprofessional scholars and bloggers (‘mythicists’) are gaining an increasingly large following” and that this view “is starting to influence the academy.” “THE academy?” You mean, the one full of believing New Testament scholars who won’t allow others into the debate?

Glad to know we’re now so influential. However, there are a number of PROFESSIONAL scholars as well, obviously. How else could there be an influence in “the academy?” Note also that it is perfectly respectable within mainstream academia to aver that Moses and Abraham are myths, so why should we not apply the same scientific analysis to the most supernatural character in the Bible, Jesus Christ?

As concerns the title of Casey’s anti-mythicist screed, it is not we mythicists who have come up with unsustainable myths, but those purveyors of religious fairytales who are engaged in mythography. We are simply lifting the veil that Casey and others keep trying to shove back down, to keep humanity in the dark about its religious heritage that dates back many thousands of years prior to the past couple of millennia.

It is too bad that a quality publisher like T&T Clark is involved in shoring up the fallacious faith in this deleterious manner.

In any event, if one wishes to read the facts and truth about ancient religion and mythology, and how it has been reworked to produce the fictitious gospel story, please feel free to study my books, ebooks, articles and forum posts:

http://truthbeknown.com

http://stellarhousepublishing.com

http://freethoughtnation.com

For any particular subject/argument such as might come up in Casey’s book, feel free to do a search across all my sites at the last link above.

The Alleged Evidence for a Historical Jesus of Nazareth

The Jesus Forgery: Josephus Untangled
Does Josephus prove a historical Jesus?
Josephus forgery on Jesus
Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius: No Proof of Jesus
Is Suetonius’s Chresto a Reference to Jesus?
Does Suetonius refer to Jesus?

See also my book Who Was Jesus? for more on these sources and Phlegon, Thallus and Mara Bar-Serapion.

Christ is a mythical character

13 Comments

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  1. The Mythicist Position
    Here’s some further reading on mythicism:

    What is Mythicism?

    Evemerist vs. Mythicist Position

    The Mythicist Position – video

    Religion and the Ph.D.: A Brief History

    “I find it undeniable that many of the epic heroes and ancient patriarchs and matriarchs of the Old Testament were personified stars, planets, and constellations.”

    “I find myself in full agreement with Acharya S/D.M. Murdock”

    Dr. Robert Price, Biblical Scholar with two Ph.D’s; book review

    “Your scholarship is relentless! The research conducted by D.M. Murdock concerning the myth of Jesus Christ is certainly both valuable and worthy of consideration.”

    – Dr. Ken Feder, Professor of Archaeology

  2. The “No Serious Scholar” fallacy: If you do not believe Jesus was a historical personage, you are not a scholar.

    http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=18804

    “Few scholars question Jesus’ existence”

    “No serious historian believes that Jesus didn’t exist”

    “All scholars agree that Jesus existed”

    “No serious scholar doubts the existence of Jesus as an historical figure”

    “No serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus”

    “No REAL scholar questions the existence of Jesus”

    “No true scholar questions the existence of Jesus”

    “Contrary to some circles on the Internet, very few scholars doubt that Jesus existed, preached and led a movement.”

    “I don’t know any serious scholar who questions the existence of Jesus.”

    “No serious ancient historian doubts that Jesus was a real person really living in Galilee in the first century”

    “I unhesitatingly affirm that there is not a genuine scholar in the world today who denies the historical existence of Jesus. Every freethinking scholar worthy of the name accepts the existence of Jesus as the founder of Christianity. No one with common-sense could possibly deny it.”

    “Evidence for Jesus as a historical personage is incontrovertible.”

    “Jesus Christ really and truly lived as a human being in Palestine 2000 years ago. No serious historian doubts that.”

    “Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community.”

    “No person with a PhD thinks Jesus wasn’t historical.”

  3. The Superman Syndrome
    The Superman Syndrome
    Hi Acharya
    Thanks for this clear advance notice on Casey, whose attitudes are all about supporting the institutional politics of Christian faith rather than rational historical enquiry. I think your key point here is the disallowance of debate. If these apologists were honest, they would convene conferences at universities where both sides of the topic are openly argued, and where papers are commissioned for academic journals. Instead, they conduct this disreputable trench warfare, tossing out ignorant insults in books that as you say, misrepresent or ignore main contrary arguments.

    I would like to comment on your statement “the “Jesus Christ” of the New Testament is a fictional composite of characters.” By way of comparison, we could also say that the modern American comic character Superman is “a fictional composite of characters” including Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, GI Joe, Paul Bunyan, Clark Kent and others.

    But I wonder how precisely the term ‘composite’ describes the reality of the construction process, since to some extent at least ‘composite’ gives the impression of planning? The comic authors did not deliberately use Also Sprach Zarathustra as a template for the original Superman, or at least I very much doubt they did. So they weren’t making a deliberate conscious fictional composite. Rather, Nietzsche’s ideas had filtered down into the popular culture in ways that meant their use in the Superman character would resonate with a public mass sentiment, in ways that are quite unconscious, but which reflect prominent social memes of national power.

    I think of Jesus as similar to Superman, as a melange of unconscious influences. As the Jews reacted to the Greek and Roman overlords, the popular sentiment ‘if only we had an anointed saviour’ provided fertile ground for gradual embellishment of the myth of Christ Jesus as Anointed Saviour and King of Israel. I imagine the myth originally circulated by word of mouth, or like Soviet era Samizdat, until emerging full blown in the audacious fiction of Saint Mark’s Gospel.

    Mark may have deliberately and intentionally constructed Christ as a composite figure, combining a cosmic Age of Pisces Avatar, midrash from Isaiah and co, borrowing of attributes from Horus and Dionysus and Attis, and some events from heroes of the war with Rome. Another way of looking at it is that all these factors went into the melange, the fictional cook pot, and were transformed through their unconscious integration into high fiction, unified by the political intent to construct a new religion.

    1. Thanks, Robert.

      I don’t have a problem using the word “compilation” or “composite” or “combination,” “syncretism” or “mix,” etc. They are all adequate to describe the mythical figure of Jesus. I don’t understand your objection. The creators of this myth took bits and pieces from numerous ideologies and deliberately compiled them.

      Suggesting that the story appeared magically out of thin air without planning? And why would the educated creators of Superman not be aware that they may have been emulating Nietzsche? Again, would we expect any such ideas simply to spring up out of the blue?

      The priests, scribes and mythographers of antiquity were not all unconsciously running around oblivious to the meaning of the religious and mythical motifs. They knew they were singing hymns to the sun god, for example. They knew that the various qualities of the sun god represented actual attributes of the solar orb itself, and so on. They knew the numbers three, seven, nine, 40 and so on all had specific meanings. The combination of multiple very powerful symbols was quite consciously done in numerous places by educated priesthoods, not mystically dawning upon unconscious cave men.

      Like I say, I don’t understand where you’re coming from here. The word “compilation” is perfectly fine for the scenario of who the mythical Christ figure was created.

  4. How Deliberate is Myth Making?
    What I am wondering is just how rational, deliberate, intentional and conscious was the use of mythic motifs by Bible writers.

    For example, Control and Kaos in the TV show Get Smart have an echo of the Manichaean myth of rival good and evil gods. But it is far from clear to what extent the writers of Get Smart were aware of the range of mythic resonances in their work.

    George Lucas is renowned for basing Star Wars on explicit mythic themes from the work of Joseph Campbell. But is Lucas typical of the creative process or an exception?

    With the Christ Myth, what I don’t think is clear is the extent to which the character of Jesus evolved accidentally and organically as a result of combining images that people just happened to like, responding emotionally on style and tone, or to what extent it was a calculated rational construction.

    I think there is a case for a range of scenarios. Comic book writers were not necessarily philosophers. You are right that the authors of the Gospels were clearly conscious of symbolism such as the use of the sun as a basis for the Christ Myth. But there is also an element of ‘go with what works’. The author may not always have fully understood why solar imagery proved popular, but just used it because it got a desired response. These archetypal images have a depth of meaning that we cannot fully explain.

  5. Pennsylvania Non-Believer

    Casey will strike out.
    My prediction is that nothing new will be presented in Maurice Casey’s book which will be published in January 2014.

    Christians and Catholics (as I was for many years) have faith in their beliefs that a particular person named Yeshua (or some variation thereof) was born in Judea near the beginning of the first century, was raised in Galilee, emerged from obscurity at about age 30, worked cures on numerous medically ill (and some mentally ill) people, was followed on occasions by masses of people, caused objects and liquids to undergo non-explainable transformations, walked on the surface of the Sea of Galilee, restored life to at least two dead people, and was ultimately crucified around the year 33 by order of the Roman prefect of Judea.

    I am convinced that no such person existed.

  6. Reviews of “Killing Jesus” on Amazon.com
    The new book titled Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard has generated a number of customer reviews on Amazon.com. The book looks at the human aspect and the final few years in the life of the Jesus figure of the New Testament. Most of the reviews on Amazon.com are from believers who favor the book.

    One of the few customer reviews which pans the book is from a reviewer who states that the three-sentence “Jesus paragraph” from Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews” is a fourth century interpolation. I submitted a post by which I complimented that review. In my post, I went on to state that the “James passage” from Antiquities refers to some “Jesus” other than the figure who is central to the New Testament. My post generated criticism from a fellow Amazon.com member who wrote that I was taking the typical mythicist position which operates to “reject obvious historical evidence in every imaginable way just [to] deny the historical existence of Jesus.” The member went on to relate the apologists’ arguments as to why the “James passage” should be regarded as a reference to the Jesus of the New Testament. I countered with a post in which I wrote that, if Josephus were in fact referring to the James and Jesus figures of the New Testament, one would expect that he would have written a more detailed description of Jesus rather than leaving it as “Jesus who was called Christ.”

    It is good that this debate is getting exposure.

    1. Thanks for your observations. I find this comment to be encouraging:

      a fellow Amazon.com member who wrote that I was taking the typical mythicist position

      The “typical mythicist position?” I’m delighted the MP has become “typical,” which means that this person already knew about it. That’s quite a change from a couple of decades ago, when I first started writing about this subject.

      Back then, it was “nobody’s ever said before Jesus didn’t exist.” Well, that’s not what I’m saying even now, because there were many Jesuses in antiquity, as you point out. And, yes, since there is another Jesus in the James passage staring right there at us, it’s probably him and not the Nazarene.

      In any event, the debate is not whether or not a Jesus existed but whether or not the “Jesus Christ” in the NT is a fictional compilation of characters, which I maintain that he is.

    2. I just went through that review and those posts:

      O’Reilly is totally wrong about Josephus, September 28, 2013
      http://www.amazon.com/review/R1NJYNLRC4LCLD/ref=cm_aya_cmt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00BIOG1ZU#wasThisHelpful

      Please post the links from the above blog over there, but since Amazon won’t allow links you’ll have to remove the “http://www.” and put a space before and after the “com” and “htm” like this:

      From: http://www.truthbeknown.com/josephus.htm

      to: truthbeknown. com /josephus. htm

      Or, for this very blog:

      freethoughtnation. com /contributing-writers/63-acharya-s/824-forthcoming-book-admits-jesus-mythicism-is-having-unprecedented-influence. html

      Just one space is all you need.

  7. AcharyaS,

    If you are so confident in your belief, why don’t you offer to debate William Lane Craig, J.P. Holding or Gary Habermas?

    The idea that Jesus never existed is ludicrous.

    Holding wrote a book called, “Shattering the Christ Myth,” where he refutes the pagan-parallel thesis, going through each of the pagan characters one at a time.

    1. I would have no problem debating Craig or Habermas, but I have no interest in the foul-mouthed hate speech of Holding. The fact that you would cite him as a credible source makes you appear ludicrous. Holding’s pathetic attempt is utterly forgettable and has been refuted repeatedly through my books, articles, forum posts and those of many others. Your ignorance of the subject is showing.

      I don’t say “Jesus never existed,” so your red herring is also ludicrous. As I explained in this very post – which you obviously didn’t even before pretending to know my work – there were MANY Jesuses in antiquity; however, it is not their story being told in the gospel tale.

      What I do say and what continues to be true and factual is that the “Jesus Christ” of the New Testament is a fictional compilation of characters.

      If you would like to study the subject, rather than relying on the fallacious contentions of badly educated Christian apologists, please feel free to read my works, such as here:

      http://freethoughtnation.com/pagan-parallels-achilles-heel-of-christianity/

      Unlike the babbling of Holding, my contentions are all carefully cited from primary sources from antiquity.

  8. Maurice Casey’s book “Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?” ruins the credibility not only of Maurice Casey, but also, the publisher, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, for publishing such crap. The book should be pulped and retracted by the publisher. It really is that bad.

    Casey misrepresents the mythicist arguments and is consistently dishonest. This book is a true waste of paper/trees. Jesus would never approve of such a dishonest and libelous book.

    Bloomsbury T&T Clark
    http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/company/contact-us

    Send them Carrier’s review too:

    Critical Review of Maurice Casey’s Defense of the Historicity of Jesus

  9. “I’ve gone through variety of reviews of Maurice Casey’s book, ‘Jesus: Evidence, and Argument or Mythicist Myths’ and the book is just absolutely pathetic. It’s as bad as Bart Ehrman’s book, ‘Did Jesus Exist?’ and even worse.

    So, Acharya sees no reason to waste any of her time on it and frankly, I do not blame her. Casey couldn’t even accurately present her case so, all Acharya would do is waste time correcting Casey on his numerous errors and flat out dishonesty. If Casey can’t make the effort to get her most basic arguments right, then, Acharya has no time for Maurice Casey at all.”

    http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=29092#p29092

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