Bart Ehrman: Jesus mythicists’ arguments are ‘fairly plausible’

In a interview with NPR (April 1, 2012), Did Jesus Exist? the interviewer summarizes New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman’s views on the debate about whether or not Jesus Christ is a mythical figure:

Mythicists’ arguments are fairly plausible, Ehrman says. According to them, Jesus was never mentioned in any Roman sources and there is no archeological evidence that Jesus ever existed. Even Christian sources are problematic – the Gospels come long after Jesus’ death, written by people who never saw the man…. Most importantly…these mythicists point out that there are Pagan gods who were said to die and rise again and so the idea is that Jesus was made up as a Jewish god who died and rose again…. The mythicists have some right things to say… The Gospels do portray Jesus in ways that are non-historical.

When I passed along that excerpt to Dr. Robert M. Price, another mythicist who, like me, was the subject of Ehrman’s wrath in his defamatory book Did Jesus Exist?, Bob exclaimed: “Wow! That sounds like a retraction!”

Is it? Did Bart Ehrman retract his hastily composed screed, in which he tosses out calumny that could be construed as libel?

The gospels were written long after the purported events by people who never saw Jesus – on that fact Bart Ehrman and I concur wholeheartedly. Yet, according to Ehrman, we are supposed simply to rely on the “Aramaic” texts hypothesized to be at the basis of these pseudepigraphical gospels for our posited “historical” Jesus!

All of my major points are wrong?!

Note also that in his “review” of my book The Christ Conspiracy, Ehrman claims that “all of Acharya’s major points are in fact wrong.” Yet, one of my major points therein is that the gospels “come long after Jesus’ death, written by people who never saw the man.” If that point is wrong, so too is Ehrman’s contention of same, when he asserts that the four canonical gospels were not written by those in whose name they are pretended to be.

In his book Forged: Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bible’s Authors are Not Who We Think They Are (9), Ehrman comments:

The crucial question is this: Is it possible that any of the early Christian forgeries made it into the New Testament? That some of the books of the New Testament were not written by the apostles whose names are attached to them? That some of Paul’s letters were not actually written by Paul, but by someone claiming to be Paul? That Peter’s letters were not written by Peter? That James and Jude did not write the books that bear their names? Or…that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not actually written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Scholars for over a hundred years have known that in fact this is the case.

In Christ Con, I cited some of that earlier scholarship, since few modern scholars at the time were making honest assessments like this one of Ehrman’s. Again, what he has said in this paragraph constitutes one of my major points, with which I basically start off my book – it is difficult to believe that Ehrman would not have noticed this part of my initial premise when he hastened to assail my scholarship.

In CC, I further questioned the validity of a number of so-called Pauline epistles, another major point with which Ehrman concurs, as can be seen from the above paragraph.

In my book Who Was Jesus? – which Ehrman did not read – I cited his research to back up several of these major points, including that we possess not the original gospels but merely “error-ridden copies!” Again, if that major point of mine is wrong, so too is Ehrman.

From my reading of his rant against me and my book, it truly appears that Ehrman did not even read my work, as he conveniently skips all the points with which he concurs, such as the above, as well as the forgery elsewhere within Christianity:

In short, there were long, protracted and even heated debates in the early church over forged documents. Early Christians realized that there were numerous forgeries in circulation, and they want to know which books were written by their alleged authors and which were not. (Ehrman, Forged: Writing in the Name of God, 22)

One of my major points in Christ Con is that the canonical texts are significantly interpolated, and another is that the authenticity of various of these texts was disputed in antiquity – both facts likewise expounded upon by Ehrman:

A number of the books of the New Testament were disputed already in early Christianity, among the Christian scholars of the second to the fourth centuries, who were arguing over which books should be included in Scripture. (Ehrman, Forged, 21)

I have, in reality, cited Ehrman’s work specifically because he has essentially proved several major points I made in Christ Con, which I have been revising and in which revision I cite him.

I have been wondering in this regard and others, such as the phallic bronze brouhaha, whether or not Ehrman simply received “Cliff Notes” of my book from an intern/assistant. In any event, the contention that all of my “major points are in fact wrong” is incorrect, as are other claims in Errman’s book. I also have a longer draft rebuttal, in addition to our major response to the book.

Further Reading

What is a Mythicist?
What is Mythicism?
Did George Washington and Thomas Jefferson Believe Jesus was a Myth?
Why I Am a Mythicist
New book about Bart Ehrman and the Christ myth!
Religion and the Ph.D.: A Brief History
Over 80 Rebuttals to Bart Ehrman’s Anti-Mythicist Book ‘Did Jesus Exist?’Bart Ehrman caught in lies and libel?Bart Ehrman errs again, this time about the virgin birth


  1. Sanatio …
    I’ll let ya’ll know when I need people like Erhman to validate or invalidate my thoughts. But, isn’t it good to know that our arguments are fairly plausible? It gives me that little tingly feeling …

  2. Darwin …
    Personally, the mythicist position is as fundamentally transforming as Darwin’s writings were in Origin. If it turns the world upside down, it’s good.

  3. Erhman is a “closet mythicist”
    Erhman, over the years, has been tiptoeing away from a real historical Jesus…that is why I read every book he wrote, waiting for his “coming out” party as a mythicist. He has his hand on the door of the “closet”, but something is holding him back from opening it. I’ll take a guess here: the reason he is slapping you around in his book is because CHRISTCON and your other works opened his eyes (especially his “third eye”).

    Acharya, you do have cajones to go at it again with these sexist mysogynists… you will stir up the pro and con blogs and will be bitch-slapped over and over again, but you will get plenty of attention/publicity, and there is no such thing as bad publicity, as they say.

    And you know I’ve got your back…

  4. Etch A Sketch Errorman
    Mitt Romney is an Etch A Sketch politician.
    Romney switches his opinions from liberal to conservative to liberal to win votes and support. His real inner convictions are unknown.

    Bart Errorman is an Etch A Sketch author.
    When it comes to writing and speaking about religious history, Errorman is the same as Romney in that he flip-flops his facts and opinions for some unknown reason.

    Does Errorman etch-a-sketch because:

    1. He wants to maximize the sales of his books by saying anything and everything in order to tantalize the interests of all potential readers and buyers of his books?

    2. He’s so fearful of being criticized, he’ll say and write whatever thinking that saying whatever will help him avoid criticism?

    3. He’s so fearful of offending the Christian Industry, he’d rather commit untruths than be confronted by their wrath?

    4. Deep down inside, he believes that Jesus really did exist and is coming back?

    5. He’s a natural born Etch A Sketcher who should have been a politician.

    “…..when Mr. Fehrnstrom on Wednesday reached for a word to describe how Mr. Romney might pivot to the general election, the one that came tumbling from his mouth was ‘Etch A Sketch,’ the children’s drawing toy in which nothing is ever permanent.

    ‘Everything changes,’ Mr. Fehrnstrom, 50, said on CNN, with a slight smirk that suggested he believed he was about to use a clever line. ‘It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.’”

    “In 1994, Romney ran for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. He had been a pro-life abortion counselor in the Mormon Church, but a private campaign poll warned him that he’d lose the election unless he ran as a pro-choicer. And that’s exactly what he did.”

  5. Esoteric Knowledge
    Well Acharya the problem with virtually all ancient religious texts is that these texts were written for and used in “initiation rites”. As we as people evolved into civilized humans we still used “esoteric” legends that had followed us from our “Hunter-Gatherer” past and a simple example of this is that Jesus should have told the Sanhedrin that he was a Hebrew man who also wanted to marry! Why give such an answer? Well Acharaya if you replied in this fashion then the other Hebrews could, at least to some extent, trust you and if you married then there would be more initiates one day. The Roman Empire under the “Mithraic” emperor Constantine used the Christian texts so that they could allow such people as blacksmiths and stone masons to continue to live and initiated these folk with “bread and wine” only, those who met with the approval of the initiating Priests probably were initiated with ergot infected bread and/or wine that had “additives” in it as well.

  6. Reading Ehrman
    Ehrman’s an acknowledge expert in the field, so he deserves a hearing. I’m reading his book [u]Did Jesus Exist.[/u] I’m in the middle of it, so it’s too early to offer an opinion, but I have a couple of problems with it.

    Ehrman says that the epistles and the gospels are based on earlier books and oral traditions that had been around for a very long time. And I agree that seems highly likely. But what does he think is a very long time? Twenty or thirty years. Really? Come on. I’m thinking a hundred, a hundred and fifty years. More, maybe.

    Second problem: he says that seven of the epistles of Paul were actually written by Paul. He doesn’t back this up at all, so far, and enough scholars say otherwise that he really needs to back it up.

    I have other, lesser problems. For instance: He makes a big deal that all the early Christian writers knew that Christ was killed by Pilate. Doesn’t he have any idea how long a theme can hold on unaltered in oral tradition? Take a well-know oral tradition: the story of the vanishing hitchhiker. Every wonder why she disappears from the backseat, rather than the shotgun seat, where a normal hitchhiker would sit? Because she originally vanished from the back of a horse. Once an idea enters oral tradition, it never disappears.

  7. Bart Ehrman needs to make up his mind.
    The fact that he contradicts himself like this is not good for his credibility.

  8. That pie tastes good, what is it, Humble?
    Bart Simpson is more credible than Bart Ehrman.

    Its interesting how someone brought up the point about book sales and Easter coming round. Seems like Bart wants to have his chocolate egg, and eat too.

    Well if he can’t prove that Jesus was real, then there is always Santa.

  9. o_O
    I concur , Praise Aton

  10. A careless, thoughtless quote by an otherwise fine
    I have read both Acharya’s and Ehrman’s books and they have both enlightened me on very important subjects I knew little about. Ehrman is a fine biblical scholar and author. Therefore, I couldn’t understand his attack on Acharya as it seemed he hadn’t even read her book and spoke out of complete ignorance. Was he confusing her for another author? Acharya has opened a lot of people’s eyes on the mythic sources of Christianity. I don’t think she gets the respect she deserves because, perhaps, she is not on a faculty at a divinity college somewhere, as Ehrman is. Was it jealousy that caused him to lash out? I hope this tiff can be settled amiacably because these two authors have a lot to contribute.

    1. misogyny, plain and simple
      Acharya doesn’t get “the respect she deserves” because she is a woman.

  11. Bait, Switch and Con
    I have in my possession, a few of Mr. Ehrman’s books and audio books.
    I am “this close” to taking them all back to a used book store to resell.

  12. Bert Ehrman’s comments
    Question: What are you willing to do, to feed your family. Are you willing to contradict yourself to keep your job. Are you willing to throw other people under bus. Are you willing to discredit yourself to feed your family.

    Only in America is it okay to remain stupid. Why tell the truth, its not like the media or people read

  13. Good thing he’s not in business…
    This topic is all common knowledge that I learned as a child, but at least Acharya hasn’t made it into another controlling religion.

    As for Ehrman, he should count his blessings that he’s not making the decisions for running a business or in construction, because there’s some walls missing from his building…

    Here’s an article exploring common judgement traps:

  14. Bart on coast
    Ive listened to Mr Ehrman on coast to coast many occasions. When he was promoting ” Jesus misquoted” he was hitting most of Acharya’s points in CC. Then at the end of the show he pronounced that Jesus was a real person and and not a myth. It was SHOCKING because the evidence he provided was paper thin. He can’t seem to take the final step. In addition, he was very defensive and a credentialist when callers challenged him.
    Keep fighting Acharya!

    1. Can’t come out of the closet
      I think that Ehrman’s conclusions are shocking too. When I first heard his lectures, I could not understand how he could remain Christian — even teach at a Christian university. Now he has decided that he is an agnostic, but he has determined that Jesus was a real person. Hard to understand how he arrives at that place. I have not read his book yet, but I intend to do so just to see if I can find any reason in it.

      1. he contends that there is enough evidence for his existence (I have not heard his arguments for this position so can’t comment) but if you grant it for argument sake he can still be an agnostic/atheist. It’s because Erhman contends with the majority of scholars, that he was an apocalyptic prophet. All his sayings from Mark the first gospel indicate that he thought the world was ending and the ‘kingdom of god’ was coming in their lifetime. But jesus was wrong. How could god be obviously so wrong? It’s because he was a man, and a deluded man at that. The subsequent stories built him up in a mythical fashion. Mark was very human jesus portrayed and each subsequent gospel (after the lifetime of Jesus’ contemporaries) made him out to be less of a man and more of a god. The reason being that the world did not end, so apocalyptic views were also suppressed in later gospels. The reason that he teaches there is because he’s great and he knows his stuff – even though the historical existence of jesus he makes rests on a few tenuous assumptions (as Carrier, Price, Fitgerald note). He may be following other scholars arguments because he has to in order to make tenure, but he seems very vociferously committed to that position. As far as the work he’s done to show the unreliability of the gospels and other myths of biblical literalists, bringing these views to the mass public is nothing short of fantastic. He is the hero of many mythicists (like Fitzgerald) and has the respect of Carrier and Price.

        1. WTF? Bart Errorman is not any hero of mythicists. Actually, mythicists call Bart’s “Did Jesus Exist” book a “HACK JOB.” (Dr. Price). In fact, the mythicists wrote a 600 page rebuttal book:

          Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?

          Over 80 Rebuttals to Bart Ehrman’s Anti-Mythicist Book ‘Did Jesus Exist?’

          Richard Carrier caught Bart Ehrman in a lie

          Bart Ehrman caught in lies and libel?

  15. Erhman is simply more interested in money (sales) than he is in truth. It’s the oldest trick in the book for gaining notoriety and climbing the ladder of success: Stab your competition in the back, while patting your own. Unfortunately, great researchers like Acharya often pay the price for the narrow and shallow Erhmans of the world. As a life-long researcher myself into the roots of religions, Acharya is not only right in her conclusions, the breadth and depth of her knowledge on the subject is almost superhuman. I’m certain poor little Erhman is as envious as hell of her 🙂

    1. I’d be careful to say that Bart is “more interested in money that he is in truth”. Bart had dedicated 3 decades of his life researching manuscripts and learning multiple languages so he can read them… of which during his earlier years he had lost his fundamental faith in Christianity. I think there is something to be said about that.

      1. Kyle, that’s why people here were surprised by Ehrman’s “hack job” (Dr. Price) with his book attacking mythicism. Ehrman consistently misrepresents the mythicists he’s addressing even going so far with Acharya S that he accused her of making stuff up when a simple Google search would’ve proven otherwise.

        Read this blog to see for yourself:

        The phallic ‘Savior of the World’ hidden in the Vatican ([url][/url])

        So, while Dr. Bart Ehrman certainly *HAD* credibility and reliability he has ruined it all by himself with his latest book, ‘Did Jesus Exist?’ due to all the sloppy scholarship and egregious errors.

  16. Misogyny vs. Tenure
    I would hate to reduce it down to naked sexism. I would hope Ehrman is beyond that. I could never see him being so disrespectful to, for example, Elaine Pagels, a distinguished professor of Religion at Yale because his professional brethren would “crucify” him for it (figuratively, of course).
    No, I think there is more of the haughty, arrogant professor who dismisses those whom he doesn’t deem worthy. I have unfortunately run across a few of those professors along the way.
    Now I am in deep admiration of people who have mastered ancient Greek and Hebrew, who can read the ancient texts in their original languages and even understand the nuances of the social forces at work at the time, some two thousand years ago. These are tremendous intellectual accomplishments requiring years of disciplined study. That is why I am glad to see Ehrman come to his senses a little at least, and I would hope an apology to Acharya would be forthcoming as her hard work and diligence in producing her works over the years deserves great admiration. Her books are tremendously interesting. She has (and continues) to withstand a lot of criticism, as Ehrman has, without the benefit of a professional cadre around her for support.
    It isn’t easy to enter “sacred” ground and dare to speak the truth as you have discovered it, knowing you will probably suffer for it in the end. That’s why I hate to see this professional jealously rearing its head. It isn’t worthy of Ehrman at all.

  17. A cloud of dust and a hearty …
    Personally, I find it distressing that we can’t seem to move beyond this stuff. I mean, when are we, as big girls and boys, going to stop believing in fairy tales and be OK with it? We’re still wallowing in the muck of credentialism, authority, old writings, relics, he said-she said, etc. We’re like the dog in the Zen story, looking at the finger instead of the moon. I read a book. If it’s transcendent, that is, it points me beyond itself and its author, then that’s what I “trust”, for lack of a better word. This is how I feel about A’s books. If it is opaque, that is, points me at itself and its author, I don’t trust it. If I feel the noose tightening around my brain, I generally dismiss it. If I see and feel new vistas opening, I know it’s a book I want to continue reading. Not to dismiss the hard work these writers do, but think of where we could be if we simply left the Erhmans of the world behind and moved on.

  18. Thats an excellent analogy to the gentleman who said he was just telling the spell bound christians what they wanted to hear. I absolutely agree with him, excellent point, and yeah he wanted to sell a few books for easter time, another pagan holiday, since when do rabbits lay eggs? Complete non-sense when taking literally – if understood it reveals allot of truth. Oh can’t forget jesus existed cause he existed, ok fine wheres the proof, oh I get they don’t have non, they have faith, hilarious. Anyone can believe anything and be wrong, a belief is an opinion, an opinion could be factual if its an opinion based on fact, it can also be false but excepted. I guess religion is about acceptance of things not proven, I have no problem with that, my problem is when one tries to pass it off as fact with little to no concrete evidence. In this case I’m rolling with the evidence and Archarya provides plenty of it I admire the hell out of her for it, if you don’t have your hands on the christ conspiracy and suns of god highly recommended you keep doing what your doing Archarya I’m standing behinde you and all who don’t like it live with it. Christianity had it’s time spreading it’s superstitions and ignorance and has done a wonderful job dumbing down the planey way to go the piscean age is over so is the religion of the piscean age, bring on the new age (Aquarius).

  19. Richard J. Plettau

    Christian Mentally Embedded Savagery
    . . . or, Christian Mental Child Abuse.

    We hear about Satanic ritual abuse (not so much anymore). As far as I am concerned, Satanic rituals are a satire on Christianity and its ritual mental abuse. The horrible image of Jesus being unjustly crucified at the “demand” of the Jews (even though Christians were still Jews at this time) is drummed into the heads of children over and over. It would be bad enough for this lie to get drummed into the heads of adults, but children have few defenses against this extreme brain-washing technique. Images like that tend to get deeply lodged in the brain. I find that, even though I stopped believing a long time ago, I can’t completely get over a residual bad feeling about the Jews.
    The technique of shocking the brain with terrible images is one of the basic brain-washing techniques. It effectively embeds savagery in the mind and this savagery can be activated at some later time by skillful manipulaters, whether directly against the Jews or indirectly against some other target. The self-righteousness of vicarious persecution is very volatile. I’m not sure that the Satanists (if there actually are any) or any other religion or cult could do any worse — from a purely mental point of view. It is almost impossible to avoid a desire for revenge when one is given these shocking images. And, of course, no one is allowed to ask questions or argue. The images must be accepted with a vulnerable, wide-open mind. The saying is that if you open your mind too far, all your brains leak out. But it also allows for really bad ideas and images to get in. What chance does a child have to resist the effects, even if his parents or the church are “liberal” and don’t emphasize the “guilt” of the Jews? It seems to me that this is possibly the most important aspect of Christianity to debunk, but even most debunkers of the Bible, including Thomas Paine or (I think) Robert Ingersoll don’t go into this. Maybe they didn’t know about brain-washing and its effects. I recommend everyone read Margeret Thaler Singer’s Cults in Our Midst or some similar book. She was too conventional to apply her ideas to officially accepted “religions.” She claimed that a person knows what he is getting into with a real religion. Really?

  20. The Author of ‘I Am Christ’ a 3 volume series
    I think what we need to understand about Ehrman’s attack on the Christ Con, is that his whole life has been dedicated to this alleged historical figure and his alleged followers. This creates an emotional tie to the said character which, if challanged will provoke an emotional kind of knee jerk reaction. Psychologists refer to this as cognitive dissonance, an issue I elaborate upon in the first volume of ‘I Am Christ’.

    As I am only a new author, but have been researching these issues for quite some time, I applaude your ability to fight on in the face of criticism. You are an inspiration to those of us who would like the right to think, rather than merely believe. Good Work!

  21. Whooops, so Ehrman (aka Errorman) didn’t even read the books he was criticizing as Ehrman’s grad student assistant admits that, “Ehrman did not even read the Mythicist books but farmed them out to his grad students to read and report on.” ([url][/url])

  22. Mr Ehrman was on Coast to Coast recently promoting his new book. Only one caller challenged him from the point of view of Jesus being a myth borrowed from previous religions. The caller pointed out the the similarities Jesus/Mithra born on the 25th of December along with other mystery religions. Mr Ehrman stated these similarities can’t be proved as no texts exist because these mystery schools were secret. All we have are some old temples and art work. The caller responded with the Roman holiday of Saturn being celebrated on the 25th. Mr Ehrman agreed but stated Saturn wasn’t a god being used to support the myth argument. So it did make me wonder about original sources comparing Jesus to other resurrecting saviour Gods?

    1. Ehrman’s response is shallow, lazy and erroneous. We have a MASSIVE amount of evidence from antiquity that confirms these various mythical aspects of the Christ myth.

      Ehrman himself believes that some Jewish prophet had his mundane biography pumped up with all kinds of mythical fairytales – where does he think those mythical fairytales came from? That the Christians made them up on the spot? No, they “borrowed” them from the “lives” of the umpteen gods and goddesses from around the Roman Empire. Ehrman appears completely oblivious to the mythology of the ancients. The only way one can maintain such a perspective is to view Christianity in a vacuum.

      Ehrman is not an expert on mythicism and does not know intimately the massive body of literature that he is aware exists. It would have taken him many years to study it all, but by his own admission he somehow missed it all for the bulk of his life.

      As concerns these various mythical characteristics, feel free to do a search on this website, which will bring up all my sites, as well as numerous forum threads that address a huge amount of the literature on this subject.

      Also, go to this index of my TBK website:

      The Christ Myth Articles ([url][/url])

      1. I find the dismissal of mysticism confusing from t
        Anytime you are talking about people raising from the dead, or walking on water, or any of the other obviously mythical details inserted into the Jesus story, the argument for whether or not the character is mythical is over. Worse, we know there is no validity to the Old Testament stories, of which are almost entirely mythical themselves. The question Ehrman and others have to answer is what if any of the Gospel isn’t mythical and how he knows this seeing as there is no first century detail about the historical Jesus that we know about aside from the Epistiles, most of which were forged later. Further, the ones we know were not forged come from a man who never met Jesus and got his information divinely as he admits himself. I don’t see how one gets to a historical Jesus from this scant evidence, if that term is even correct, nor do I understand the scorn directed on people trying to piece together where all the mythical influences in the Gospel stories that don’t find their continuation from other Old Testament myths originate from.

        1. JCHorton, would you please re-post your thoughts in the forum thread below?:

          Why I Am a Mythicist ([url][/url])

          So much of it certainly seems pretty obvious that’s it’s mythical, doesn’t it.

  23. Last message I mentioned Mr Ehrman on coast to coast as a regular guest. Several times I’ve emailed coast requesting you as a guest. I’m sure others have as well. One episode they had a woman who telepathicly speaks to pets! Your an educated published author with a body of work. What’s your best guess as to why they haven’t invited you?


    1. Thanks, JEM, for the inquiry and enthusiasm. I know that many people have asked C2C to have me on over the years, but every host from Art Bell to whoever all is on there now has steadfastly refused. I stopped listening many years ago for that very reason.

      I can tell you that one of the guesthosts many years ago actually called me up to tell me why they couldn’t have me on – because of the Christian sponsors!

      So, it’s okay to have anything ridiculous on there, including people pretending to be Satan, or [i]other [/i]mythicists such as Freke/Gandy and PJ of Zeitgeist, but not a [i]woman [/i]who cogently outlines the important case that the “Jesus Christ” of the New Testament is a fictional composite of characters, real and mythical.

      Apparently ignoring these facts at all costs and keeping humanity dumb about this subject is the intellectual level C2C wishes to play on. I can only hope that when some “young blood” gets in there, that omission of truth and reality will change.

  24. Reconciling Ehrman and Acharya ?

    The Christ Conspiracy-The greatest story ever sold, which I just recently began to read (and study), is certainly a well-documented and detailed analysis of the extensive similarities between Buddha, Krishna, Orisis, Mithra and others to Jesus. I recall finding much of the same material in The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors on the internet many years ago. One wonders how Christianity survives in light of this exposition. I believe that the Church (both Catholic and Protestant denominations) is today too politically connected and economically powerful to be affected. Likewise, I believe that today, as in the distant past, most Christian followers have been mostly ignorant of the historical circumstances that brought about the foundation of Christianity. But I wonder about the need to discount the existence of the historical, human, Jewish Jesus?
    As a young Jew some 40 years ago, I read a popular Jewish history book Jews, God and History by Max Dimont. I have never forgotten the ironic footnote at the bottom of the page covering the story of Jesus. It read “Some Christian scholars do not believe Jesus existed, but they are all convinced that the Jews killed him”
    About 25 years ago, a book The Myth-Maker-Paul and the Invention of Christianity by Hyam Maccoby taught me that the historical Jesus innocently believed himself to be the Jewish Messiah, and that he is “turning in his grave” knowing that Paul has turned him into the second person of a pagan trinity godhead, blasphemous to the faith of Jesus. Paul rejected the (Jewish) faith of Jesus, to teach a (pagan) faith in Jesus. Paul perverted the teachings of Jesus. He transformed the Jewish leader who expected God’s visitation to save the Jews from foreign oppression, and made him into the Savior of an Hellenistic mystery cult.
    Am I mistaken, or are you suggesting that no historical Jesus ever existed? Can it not be that the early non-Jewish followers of Jesus saw an opportunity to give their newly created mythological incarnate deity a provable, historical grounding. Paul (and other church leaders) uniquely and deviously “packaged” the richly documented Jesus’s Jewish history with its Abraham, Moses, David and all the prophets and cleverly combined the Jewish concept of a messiah with the idea of a savior god into one identity. There is no need to discount the existence of the historical, human Jesus. He was simply used to advance their mythology.
    I look forward to your comments

    Thank you

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It isn’t that there is a “need to discount the existence of the historical, human, Jewish Jesus.” The facts point to the “Jesus Christ” of the New Testament as a fictional composite of characters, real and mythical. A composite of multiple “people” is no one. When the mythological and midrashic layers are removed, there is no core to the onion. Hence, there is no “historical, human, Jewish Jesus” to discount in the first place.

      It turns out there is no need to assume the “existence of the historical, human, Jewish Jesus.” That’s simply an [i]assumption [/i]based on conditioning, not evidence. One assumes the historical personage and then asserts that either he was truly the son of God or that he had his mundane biography jazzed up with supernatural fairytales. This latter perspective is called “euhemerism” or “evemerism,” ([url][/url]) and I have dealt with this concept throughout my writings. In fact, my very first published book [i]The Christ Conspiracy[/i], is designed to demonstrate that evemerism is incorrect, as are my numerous works since that time.

      There’s simply no core to the onion, which I show throughout my writings. It is the same case with the myths of other cultures: We speak of Zeus, Hercules and Osiris – by asserting these figures are mythical, are we displaying a need to discount the existence of the historical, human, Egyptian Osiris or Greek Zeus and Hercules?

      I hope I have made myself clear. The only “historical, human Jewish Jesus” one can find exists among those numerous Jesuses of Josephus ([url][/url]) and pre-Christian texts, including the several Joshuas of the Old Testaments whose name is rendered “Jesus” in the Greek OT or Septuagint. There simply exists no need to posit such a figure underneath the layers of the fictional New Testament composite – and, indeed, there is no evidence for such a figure.

      Here again is the most accurate description of this issue, in my opinion:

      The “Jesus Christ” of the New Testament is a fictional composite of characters, real and mythical. A composite of multiple “people” is no one.

  25. I think what Bart meant to say (if he did say that) is that a decent argument can be made that Jesus was a myth. That doesn’t mean that Bart agrees with the argument, but he is honest enough to recognize the argument carries some weight. When Bart says “The Gospels do portray Jesus in ways that are non-historical”, he may be referring to the Miracle Worker Jesus. Keep in mind, we don’t know much about Jesus anyways, practically 30 years of his life are missing. All we really have is his death and parables.

    1. Kyle, I own Ehrman’s book, he said it. Ehrman was quite dishonest on many occasions throughout his book DJE by misrepresenting the mythicists and their arguments – probably due to the fact that he didn’t read the mythicist books for himself as he had his assistants skim these books for him.

      Here are Over 60 Responses to Bart Ehrman’s book DJE ([url][/url]) showing just how pathetic Ehrman’s book really is.

  26. pictures in the stars
    Hi Acharya I’m a big fan of your work. Your research writing and mental skills leave most other scholars in this field in the shade.
    I’ve studied astrology for over 25 years, any one who has looked at the subject would have known about the gods in mythology, especially the dying and rising ones, and more especially if they’d studied Liz Green’s work whose insights into human nature border on the profound.
    Of course astrology has been disparaged and slandered by one dimensional christian literalists and scientists since the time of augustine, sorry for them discovering so late in the day that humans are all in the business of multi dimensional myth making.

  27. “It is absolutely true, in my judgment, that the New Testament accounts of Jesus are filled with discrepancies and contradictions in matters both large and small.”

    – Bart Ehrman, “Did Jesus Exist?” page 182

    “It is true that the Gospels are riddled with other kinds of historical problems and that they relate events that almost certainly did not happen…”

    – Bart Ehrman, “Did Jesus Exist?” page 184

  28. [quote]”In a recent interview with NPR (April 1, 2012), Did Jesus Exist? the interviewer summarizes Ehrman’s views thus:

    “Mythicists’ arguments are fairly plausible, Ehrman says. According to them, Jesus was never mentioned in any Roman sources and there is no archeological evidence that Jesus ever existed. Even Christian sources are problematic – the Gospels come long after Jesus’ death, written by people who never saw the man…. Most importantly…these mythicists point out that there are Pagan gods who were said to die and rise again and so the idea is that Jesus was made up as a Jewish god who died and rose again…. The mythicists have some right things to say… The Gospels do portray Jesus in ways that are non-historical.”[/quote]
    That is the complete opposite to what Bart Errorman said in his book. How could he contradict himself so blatantly only a week or so after his new book was released? It must be a retraction of sorts because throughout the book he is incapable of acknowledging that mythicists may be right about anything at all. In fact, he sets out to prove that mythicists aren’t to be taken seriously because, according to Ehrman, “[i]Jesus existed whether we like it or not[/i].” His book is anything BUT an objective view of the case for mythicism. He knows so little about mythicism and the books by mythicists that he’s criticizing saying they got it all wrong that he can’t even get their arguments correct. He misrepresents them repeatedly. Bart Ehrman’s book isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. He owes the mythicists he smears an apology.

    So, Bart Ehrman’s entire book is either disingenuous, or it’s a “hack job” as other scholars are now saying, or he wrote the book as red meat for Christians blowing hot air up their skirts telling them what they wanted to hear in order to sell more books near Easter time all while knowing it wasn’t true or at least not really believing in what he was writing. Probably all the above.

    Bart Ehrman has just ruined his reliability and credibility with this book and he will pay for it for a very long time. Shame on him.

  29. What Ehrman was Retaliating Against
    Mythicists have only themselves to blame for Ehrman’s attack against Mythicism. The introduction to [i]Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth[/i] reveals what ticked him off:

    [quote]Every week I receive two or three e-mails asking me whether Jesus existed as a human being. When I started getting these e-mails, some years ago now, I thought the question was rather peculiar and I did not take it seriously. Of course Jesus existed. Everyone knows he existed. Don’t they?

    But the questions kept coming, and soon I began to wonder: Why are so many people asking? My wonder only increased when I learned that I myself was being quoted in some circles—misquoted rather—as saying that Jesus never existed. I decided to look into the matter. I discovered, to my surprise, an entire body of literature devoted to the question of whether or not there ever was a real man, Jesus.

    I was surprised because I am trained as a scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity, and for thirty years I have written extensively on the historical Jesus, the Gospels, the early Christian movement, and the history of the church’s first three hundred years. Like all New Testament scholars, I have read thousands of books and articles in English and other European languages on Jesus, the New Testament, and early Christianity. But I was completely unaware—as are most of my colleagues in the field—of this body of skeptical literature.[/quote]

    How would you feel if people put their own words into your mouth for the purpose of proving something that you don’t believe?

    1. No one here has put words into Ehrman’s mouth. No one has misrepresented anything he has said. Mythicists are not a unified body of believers in anything, and none speaks for the whole.

      People are curious about the mythicist position. They asked Ehrman what his opinion was. He expressed his utter ignorance of the subject, and then pretended to be an expert. His book was full of calumny and libel. He attacked the individuals in the book, not the other way around.

      Your remarks are erroneous and misrepresent mythicists – it is obvious you do not know the subject or what transpired between Ehrman and us. Ehrman’s book was full of error and falsehoods. In this very post – which I’m guessing you did not even read – I show how he is WRONG in his assessment of my book, which he did not even read but which he dishonestly pretended to do so. Ehrman has sullied [i]our [/i]reputation with his falsehoods and character assassinations, so, no, he is not in the right.

  30. Downstrike, you need to read the mythicist book in response to Bart Ehrman: New book about Bart Ehrman and the Christ myth! ([url][/url])

    Over 80 Rebuttals to Bart Ehrman’s Anti-Mythicist Book ‘Did Jesus Exist?’ ([url][/url])

    This thread should be of interest to you as well: Religion and the Ph.D.: A Brief History ([url][/url])

  31. Too bad Ehrman has sold out not to “offend” the Christ believers, in order to attack the Christ Myth Theory and DM Murdock in particular. He relies to much on credentials that he holds dear, even though Murdock has perfectly legitimate credentials of her own!

    Thus, it begs the question, is Ehrman just a sexist who thinks that Bible Scholarship is particularly a “man’s world.” And is it convenient for him to do this because the Christ Myth Theory isn’t respected amongst most scholars, who really haven’t even considered the theory on it’s own merit.

    Why do I believe it? Because the internal evidence is compelling! Why does Paul NEVER appeal to any saying of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, a Miracle…or anything whatsoever as if Jesus was a real man?
    The only thing you actually see are Old Testament quotes, as if we are talking about a Platonic Spiritual Type Being. Just saying!

    That is my starting point….and then all the other facts follow….that the Gospels were written much latter, that there were no eyewitnesses that record anything historical about Jesus. It’s all heresy! It the same thing as saying Joseph Smith talked to the Angel Moroni, which no Protestant or Catholic believes! So, why believe an unsubstantiated claim made by an anonymous author who wrote 40 years plus after the supposed events?

    I am not compelled to believe even the most basic claims concerning the life of Jesus. Murdock, as a polemicist, destroys the rest of the edifice, showing us everything was pretty much borrowed from the Egyptians and others……

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