Just as declaring oneself an atheist does not make one automatically an expert in religion, seeing Jesus as a myth does not make someone an automatic expert in Christian origins. There are many people calling themselves “mythicists” – i.e., someone who views various biblical/supernatural figures as mythical, not historical – who are not experts in the large body of Jesus mythicist literature dating back centuries. In fact, some of these “experts” take glee in deliberately ignoring this scholarship; hence, they cannot be considered experts after all.
“Seeing Jesus as a myth does not make someone an automatic expert in Christian origins.”
Certain individuals act as if they just came up with this notion of Jesus as a mythical figure on their own. They did not, and they obviously are ignorant of the massive mythicist scholarship that preceded them. This ignorance allows for them to make mistakes, not realizing that there have been others – many of them credentialed and professional scholars – who have already investigated the relevant subjects and provided excellent, accurate and/or sufficient analyses of most if not all elements of Christian origins studies.
This lack of study and blatant ignorance do NOT make someone an expert. If you encounter people claiming to be mythicists and experts at Jesus mythicism, feel free to ask them if they’ve actually studied this massive body of scholarship dating back centuries in multiple languages over a period of decades? Or are they simply pretending to be experts, based on cursory scanning of encyclopedias and a couple of mythicist books by others who themselves are ignorant of this scholarship?
Ask also in what other field can one be considered an “expert” if one hasn’t studied the past scholarship and scientific research?
I see far too many people running about giving talks, doing interviews and writing books and articles about mythicism who really don’t know what they are talking about. In fact, the bulk of them have not studied the scholarship and are not experts in this field.
“The bulk of mythicist ‘experts’ have not studied the scholarship and are not really experts on mythicism.”
The same individuals also claim to be experts in comparative religion and mythology, when they clearly are not. Reading about a few parallels in encyclopedias or other books does NOT make one an expert. I see these people try to minimize the parallels, similarities and comparisons, because they themselves are ignorant of comparative religion and mythology, and do not know about the other parallels.
Needless to say, these non-experts on comparative religion and mythology should not be paid attention to when the discussion turns to comparisons between pre-Christian traditions and Christianity. If these “mythicists” had studied the mythicist literature, including my works, they would know exactly where these MANY parallels come from and what they mean. (Below is but one of these series of parallels that most mythicist “experts” are ignorant about. There are many more, some of which you can find by clicking on the image and others in the “Further Reading” section at the bottom of this article.)
I do not consider anyone an “expert on mythicism” or a “mythicist scholar” who has not studied the mythicist literature going back centuries. And, neither should anyone else treat them as such. This study takes YEARS, so one doesn’t just have an epiphany and become an expert overnight based on one’s new-found disbelief. This sort of fallacious pretense sullies the field with a lack of integrity, so I request that it not be allowed to continue unchallenged. Thank you.
“I do not consider anyone an ‘expert on mythicism’ or a ‘mythicist scholar’ who has not studied the mythicist literature going back centuries.”
Furthermore, newcomers to the field of Jesus mythicism also often believe that there is a single, “sexy” solution to Christian origins, such as Constantine inventing the whole religion in the fourth century, or the Flavians doing likewise during the first. However, there isn’t a single source for the gospel story, and such theories ignore the bulk of the mythicist iceberg beneath the water.
The best summary is that the “Jesus Christ” of the New Testament is a fictional compilation of characters, not a single individual. A compilation of multiple “people” is no one. When the mythological and midrashic layers are removed, there remains no historical core to the onion. The gospel story is mythology historicized, not history mythologized.