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The Christ myth theory (sometimes called the Christ myth, Jesus myth, or nonexistence hypothesis) is the contention that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist as a historical person, that the Jesus of early Christianity was a personification of an ideal saviour or mythical being, similar in some respects to Krishna, Adonis, Osiris, and Mithra, to whom earthly events were later attached.[6] Proponents of a mythical origin of Christianity sometimes allow that some gospel material may have been drawn from a historical preacher or preachers, but that these individuals were not in any sense "the founder of Christianity"; rather they contend that Christianity emerged organically from Hellenistic Judaism. The proponents of the theory trace the evolution of Christianity through a conjectural understanding of the evolution of the New Testament literature and thus give primacy to the epistles over the gospels in determining the views of the earliest Christians.

The antecedents of the theory can be traced to the French Enlightenment thinkers Constantin-François Volney and Charles François Dupuis in the 1790s. The first academic advocate was the 19th century historian and theologian Bruno Bauer and proponents such as Arthur Drews were notable in biblical studies during the early 20th century. Authors such as Earl Doherty, Robert M. Price, Tom Harpur, and George Albert Wells have recently re-popularised the theory among lay audiences.

The Christ-Myth theory is essentially without supporters in modern academic circles, biblical scholars and historians being highly dismissive of it,[40] viewing it as pseudo-scholarship,[32] with some going so far as to compare the theory's advocates with Holocaust deniers, flat-earthers, and people who believe the moon landing was faked.[43]


Early proponents

Doubt about the historical existence of Jesus emerged when critical study of the Gospels developed in the 18th century,[44] and some English deists towards the end of that century are said to have believed that no historical Jesus existed.[45]

Constantin-François Volney and Charles François Dupuis

The "great forerunners" of the nonhistoricity hypothesis, though, are usually identified as two thinkers of the French Enlightenment, Constantin-François Volney and Charles François Dupuis.[46] In works published in the 1790s, both argued that numerous ancient myths, including the life of Jesus, were based on the movement of the sun through the zodiac.[47][48][49]

Dupuis identified pre-Christian rituals in Syria, Egypt and Persia which he believed represented the birth of a god to a virgin mother at the winter solstice and connected this to the winter rising of the constellation of Virgo. He believed that this and other annual occurrences were allegorised as the life-histories of solar deities (e.g. Sol Invictus), who passed their childhoods in obscurity (low elevation of the sun after the solstice), died (winter) and were resurrected (spring equinox). Dupuis argued that Jewish and Christian scriptures could also be interpreted according to the solar pattern: the Fall of Man in Genesis was an allegory of the hardship caused by winter, and the resurrection of Christ the "paschal lamb" at Easter represented the growth of the Sun's strength in the sign of Aries at the spring solstice.[50] Drawing on this conceptual foundation Dupuis rejected the historicity of Jesus entirely, explaining Tacitus' reference to Jesus as nothing more than an echo of the inaccurate beliefs of Christians current in Tacitus' own day.[51]

Volney, who published before Dupuis but made use of a draft version of Dupuis' work,[52] followed much of his argument. Volney differed, though, in thinking that the gospel story was not a conscientious extended allegory grounded in solar-myths but was compiled organically-accidentally even-when simple allegorical statements like, "the virgin has brought forth," were misunderstood as history.[53] Volney further parted company from Dupuis by allowing that confused memories of an obscure historical figure may have contributed to Christianity when they were integrated with the solar mythology.[54]

The works of Volney and Dupuis moved rapidly through numerous editions,[55] and Napoleon may have been basing his opinion on Volney's work when he stated privately that the existence of Jesus was an open question.[56] However, their influence even in France did not outlast the first quarter of the nineteenth century;[55] they had based their views on limited historical data and later critics showed, for example, that the birth of Jesus was not placed in December until the 4th century.[57]

Bruno Bauer

Bruno Bauer

Bruno Bauer

Scholarly attention to the possibility of Jesus' non-existence began with the 19th-century German historian Bruno Bauer. In a series of studies produced while he was teaching at the University of Bonn (1839–1842), Bauer disputed the historical value of the New Testament Gospels. In his view, the Gospel of John was not a historical narrative but an adaptation of the traditional Jewish religio-political idea of the Messiah to Philo's philosophical concept of the "logos". Turning to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Bauer followed earlier critics in regarding them as dependent on Mark's narrative, but he rejected the standard view that they also drew upon a common tradition apart from Mark which is now lost—a source scholars generally call "Q". For Bauer, this latter possibility was ruled out by the incompatible stories of Jesus' nativity found in Matthew and Luke, as well as by the way the non-Markan material found in these documents still appeared to develop Markan ideas. Bauer instead concluded that Matthew depended on Luke for the content found only in those two Gospels, and now that the entire Gospel tradition could be traced to a single author (Mark), Bauer felt that the hypothesis of outright invention became credible.[58] He further believed that there was no expectation of a Messiah among Jews in the time of Tiberius and that Mark's portrayal of Jesus as the Messiah must therefore be a retrojection of later Christian beliefs and practices, an interpretation Baur extended to many of the specific stories recounted in the Gospels.[59]

While Bauer initially left open the question of whether a historical Jesus existed at all, his published views were sufficiently unorthodox that in 1842 they cost him his lectureship.[60] And in a revised edition of his work on the Gospels, published in 1850–1851, Bauer dated all the New Testament epistles to the late 2nd century and concluded that Jesus had not existed. Bauer's own comprehensive explanation of Christian origins appeared in 1877: the religion was a synthesis of the Stoicism of Seneca the Younger, whom Bauer believed had planned to create a new Roman state based on his philosophy, with the Jewish theology of Philo as developed politically by pro-Roman Jews such as Josephus.[61][62][63] In accordance with this view, Bauer held that Mark was an Italian whom had been influenced by Seneca's Stoic philosophy,[62] and that the Christian movement originated in Rome and Alexandria.[64]

Bauer's views proved to be foundational for much of the Christ-Myth community of later generations. And while subsequent arguments against a historical Jesus were not all directly dependent on Bauer's work, they usually echoed it on several general points: that New Testament references to Jesus lacked historical value, that the lack of 1st-century non-Christian references to Jesus was evidence against his existence, and that Christianity originated through syncretism.[65]

Radical Dutch school

In the 1870s and 1880s, a group of scholars associated with the University of Amsterdam, who were known in German scholarship as the "Radical Dutch school", followed Bauer in rejecting the authenticity of the Pauline epistles and took a generally negative view of the Bible's historical value. Within this group, the existence of Jesus was rejected by Allard Pierson, S. Hoekstra and Samuel Adrian Naber, while others came close to that position but concluded that the Gospels contained a core of historical fact.[66]

Early 20th century

By the early twentieth century a number of writers had published arguments against Jesus' historicity, ranging from the fairly scholarly to the highly fanciful (e.g Edwin Johnson's denial of not only a historical Jesus but nearly all recorded history prior to the 16th century A.D.).[67] Despite their uneveness, these treatments were sufficiently influential to merit several book-length responses by historians and New Testament scholars. Proponents of the nonhistoricity hypothesis increasingly drew on the work of liberal theologians, who tended to deny any value to sources for Jesus outside the New Testament and to limit their attention within the canon to Mark and the hypothetical Q document.[68] Thus when the Zurich professor Paul Wilhelm Schmiedel identified just nine "pillar passages" in the Gospels which he thought early Christians could not have invented, they "proved to be a tempting target for the deniers of Jesus' historicity"—despite Schmiedel's intention that these passage serve as the foundation for a fuller reconstruction of Jesus' life.[69] These authors also made use of the growing field of Religiongeschichte-the "history of religions"-which seemed to find sources for many Christian ideas in Greek and Oriental mystery cults rather than the life of Jesus and Palestinian Judaism.[70]

J. M. Robertson

Against this intellectual backdrop J. M. Robertson, a British freethinker and journalist, began to promote his account of Christian origins in 1900.[71] In Robertson's view, belief in a slain Messiah arose before the New Testament period within sects later known as Ebionites or Nazarenes. Robertson argued that these groups would have expected a Messiah named Jesus, a hope possibly based on a conjectured divinity of that name reflected in the Biblical Joshua.[72] He further felt that an additional but less significant basis for early Christian belief may have been the executed Jesus Pandira, placed by the Talmud in about 100 BCE.[73]

Robertson noted that while the authentic letters of Paul of Tarsus are the earliest surviving Christian writings, these epistles are primarily concerned with theology and morality and largely gloss over the life of Jesus. Once references to "the twelve" and to Jesus' institution of the Eucharist were rejected as interpolations, Robertson argued the Jesus of the Pauline epistles is reduced to a crucified savior who "counts for absolutely nothing as a teacher or even as a wonder-worker".[74] As a result, Robertson felt those elements of the Gospel narrative which attribute such characteristics to Jesus must have developed later, among Gentile believers who were converted by Jewish evangelists like Paul.[75] The Gentile party represented Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection in mystery-plays in which, wishing to disassociate the cult from Judaism, they attributed his execution to the Jewish authorities and his betrayal to "a Jew" (Ioudaios, misunderstood as Judas).[76] Such plays evolved over time into Gospels.[77] The religion sought to further enhance its appeal to Gentiles by adopting myths from pagan cults, albeit with some "Judaic manipulation" – thus Jesus' healings came from Asclepius, feeding of multitudes from Dionysus, the Eucharist from the worship of Dionysus and Mithra, and walking on water from Poseidon, but his descent from David and his raising of a widow's son from the dead were in deference to Jewish Messianic expectations.[78] And while the Fourth Gospel's portrayal of Jesus as Logos was ostensibly Jewish, the underlying concept ultimately derived from the function of Mithra, Thoth and Hermes as representatives to humanity from the supreme god.

William Benjamin Smith

William Benjamin Smith, a professor of mathematics at Tulane University, argued in a series of books that the earliest Christian sources, particularly the Pauline epistles, stress Christ's divinity at the expense of any human personality, and that this would have been implausible if there had been a human Jesus. Smith therefore felt that Christianity's origins lay in a pre-Christian Jesus cult—that is, a Jewish sect had worshipped a divine being named Jesus in the centuries before the human Jesus was supposedly born.[79] Evidence for this cult was postulated in Hippolytus' mention of the Naassenes[80] and Epiphanius' report of a Nazaraean or Nazorean sect that existed before Christ, as well as passages in Acts.[81] On this view the seemingly historical details in the New Testament were built by the early Christian community around narratives of the pre-Christian Jesus.[82] In keeping with his theory Smith also argued against the historical value of non-Christian writers regarding Jesus, particularly Josephus and Tacitus.[83]

Arthur Drews

Arthur Drews.

Arthur Drews

Arthur Drews, a professor of philosophy at the Technische Hochschule Karlsruhe, published Die Christusmythe ("The Christ Myth") in 1909 which brought together the scholarship of the day in defense of the idea that Christianity had been a Jewish Gnostic cult that spread by appropriating aspects of Greek philosophy and Frazerian death-rebirth deities. Drews' claimed that his "purpose was to show that everything about the historical Jesus had a mythical character and thus it was not necessary to presuppose that a historical figure ever existed."[84] His work proved popular enough in both his native Germany and abroad that prominent theologians and historians addressed Drews' arguments, with responses appearing in the Hibbert Journal, the American Journal of Theology, and other leading journals of religion.[85] Further, at least two monographs on the historicity of Jesus were written partially in response to Drews.[86][87] In response to his detractors, Drews appeared at a series of public debates, of which the most famous occurred on January 31 - February 1, 1910 at the Berlin Zoological Garden against Hermann von Soden .[88][89]

Other writers

A variety of other less well known authors advocated version of the Christ Myth during this period as well. A. D. Loman argued that episodes in Jesus's life, such as the Sermon on the Mount, were fictions written to justify compilations of pre-existing liberal Jewish sayings. G. I. P. Bolland developed the hypothesis that Christianity evolved from Gnosticism and that Jesus was a symbolic figure representing Gnostic ideas about God.[90] G. R. S. Mead did not explicitly deny the historicity of Jesus but rather argued that he was based on an obscure personage recorded in the Talmud who lived around 100 BCE. Albert Kalthoff wrote that Jesus was an idealized personification created by a proto-communist community and that incidents in the Gospels were adapted from first-to-third century Roman history.[91] Peter Jensen saw Jesus as a Jewish adaptation of Gilgamesh, whom Jensen regarded as a solar deity.[92] And Joseph Wheless claimed there was an active conspiracy among Christians, going back as far as the second century, to forge documents to make a mythical Jesus seem historical.[93]

Recent proponents

George Albert Wells

G. A. Wells, emphasizing the New Testament epistles and the paucity of early non-Christian documents attesting to a historical Jesus, once argued that the Jesus of earliest Christianity was a pure myth, derived from mystical speculations stemming from the Jewish Wisdom tradition. On this view, Jesus is presented by the earliest strata of the New Testament as "a basically supernatural personage only obscurely on Earth as a man at some unspecified period in the past".[94]

In The Jesus Myth (1999), however, Wells drastically altered his position, contending that there were two distinct figures of Jesus: the mythic Jesus of Paul and a minimally historical Jesus found in the Gospels. He spells out his position in Can We Trust the New Testament? (2003): "This Galilean Jesus [behind the gospels] was not crucified and was not believed to have been resurrected after his death. The dying and rising Christ — devoid of time and place - of the early epistles is a quite different figure, and must have a different origin." Robert Van Voorst has described this change of mind as an "about-face" and a rejection of the Christ Myth,[95] a sentiment shared by some within the Christ Myth community itself.[96]

Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy

Main article: The Jesus Mysteries and Neoplatonism and Gnosticism

In recent years, the Christ myth theory has also been advocated by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, who are both popular writers on mysticism, in their books The Jesus Mysteries[97] and Jesus and the Lost Goddess (ISBN 1400045940). They suggested that the idea that Jesus's existence is legendary is itself as old as the New Testament, pointing to 2 John 1:7, though scholars of the period believe that this passage refers to docetism, the belief that Jesus lacked a genuinely physical body, and not the belief that Jesus was a completely fabricated figure.[98][99][100][101][102][103]

They are applying ideas of many authors from mainstream classical studies with a specialization in Gnosticism. The last generation has seen a wealth of new material on gnosticism. In 1898 Moritz Friedländer introduced the hypothesis that Gnosticism was not an aberrant form of Christianity but rather had emerged originally from Judaism. Kurt Rudolph provided the best analysis of this point.[104] Walter Bauer continued this theme, "heresy is the original manifestation of Christianity".[105]

The modern form of the case came from Birger A. Pearson an explicit continuation of Moritz Friedländer's "Gnosticism serves as the medium by which Judaism should become a world religion".[106] Pearson's analysis in the text starts with Friedländer Revisted Alexandrian Judaism and Gnostic Origins, which concludes with "Although much of Friedländer's argument is open to question, he has been vindicated in his basic contention, that Gnosticism is a pre-Christian phenomenon that developed on Jewish soil."[107] In particular he held elsewhere in the text:

the essential building blocks of the basic Gnostic myth constitute a (revolutionary) borrowing and reinterpretation of Jewish scriptures and traditions.... an attempt on the part of the Gnostics to gain entry into Christian communities, or to gain Christian adherents to their communities by means of equating their own gnosis with alleged secret teaching of Jesus Christ.... Non-Christian (pre-Christian?) varieties of Gnosticism had other reveler figures to whom to attribute their mythology, the most important of which seemed to have been Seth, son of Adam. Of course later "Christianized" Sethian Gnostics could then equate Seth with Jesus Christ, and regard the latter as an incarnation or avatar of the former.[108]

John D Turner analysis of the Sethian development yielded an end to end case study. What they both saw was an incorporation of Jewish wisdom literature into a middle platonic system. Groups of proto-gnostics (example Ophites) existed believing in a logos and a personified wisdom (Sophia) outside of history. They evolved into gnostic Christians, within two generations seeing the wisdom literature transformed into "teachings" of Jesus, an example of a Christianity evolving without any input from historical events.[109][110]

The focus of Freke and Gandy's books are to explain this academic literature and weave it into a cohesive whole.

Critics of Bauer's ideas would assert that the first known explicitly Gnostic texts are from the middle of the second century, and the date of a fully developed Gnosticism is not attested to earlier than this. They may grant that fully formed Gnosticism may have had its origins in the first century or earlier.[111] Gnosticism and Christianity developed around the same time period but from different roots. The one pre-Christian Gnostic contribution claimed to have influenced Christian thinking is the "redeemer myth" but no pre-Christian document exists with this myth.[112][113] Other scholars question gnosticism as a category at all separate from Hellenistic Judaism and so for them the idea that Gnosticism impacted the New Testament in this area is rejected .[114]

Earl Doherty

Earl Doherty promotes the theory in his book The Jesus Puzzle, where he utilizes the earliest descriptions of Christian beliefs, the earliest epistles as proposed that Christ is a myth derived from Middle Platonism with some influence from Jewish mysticism, in the spirit of Bruno Bauer above. He essentially agreed with Wells with the key exception, that he held that these early authors did not believe that Jesus had been on Earth at all. He argues that the earliest Christians, like Philo, acceptance of a Platonic cosmology distinguished a "higher" spiritual world from the Earthly world of matter, and that they viewed Jesus as having descended only into the "lower reaches of the spiritual world".[115] Doherty also suggests that this view was accepted by the authors of the Pastoral epistles, 2 Peter, and various second-century Christian writings outside the New Testament. Doherty contends that apparent references in these writings to events on earth, and a physical historic Jesus, should in fact be regarded as allegorical metaphors.[116] He believes that the writer of the Gospel of Mark was the first to place Jesus Christ in a specific historical context, and that the actual view of Jesus of the early follower are best found the earliest descriptions of Christian beliefs, the earliest epistles. Opponents regard such interpretations as forced and erroneous.[117] Doherty advanced the case through the creation of an exhaustive list of silences[118] and the connection to Marcus Minucius Felix.[119]

We can best see Doherty's expansion of Wells' ideas by examining a time line. For both, without a belief in a founding figure, an alternate theory of Christian development begins to emerge. The core idea is that the proto-Christian or Christian religion being practiced at any time is likely consistent with the type of literature being produced at that time. The standard historical methods are used to determine dates. From there

  • If people are datable and known to have written something the book was written during their lives (though it may involve earlier tradition)
  • If work A depends on work B then A preceded B


The time line that emerges[120] would be common to both for the first 3 lines while the last 3 are more explicitly Doherty:

Period type of literature type of development
unknown (thousands of years in the past) imagery of life-death-rebirth deity that sacrifices himself for his followers (outside of time and history and/or in the distant past) mystery cults develop see Jesus Christ as myth
~200 BCE[121] Jewish Wisdom literature (proto Q) for example Wisdom of Solomon. Stories about that Wisdom/Sophia including legends of wisdom having been incarnate (outside of time and history and/or in the distant past)[122]
200 BCE - 70 CE Hellenistic Judaism (especially Philo of Alexandria) mainstream the notion of emanations of God, in particular Wisdom/Sophia and Logos Syncretic Judaism forms which makes heavy use of allegory to harmonize Greek and Jewish religion. In particular proto logos Christianity.
50-70 CE[123] Epistles Pauline Epistles and Epistle to the Hebrews Messianic literure and savior god get combined. There is no belief in a historical incarnation nor belief in any specific "teachings" outside the literature
90-110 CE[124] Gospels of Mark and Matthew constructed in essentially modern form. Wisdom literature teachings get incorporated into midrashic narrative.
106-140 CE[125] Early church fathers Logos Christianity. Mixed opinion about salvation and the incarnation.[126] A Christianity exists which is essentially a form of stoicism with its mythology taken primarily from the Septuagint. Most references to the gospels themselves are thought of and written about as being "stories" and "myths"[127]
140-180 CE[128] anti-heretical literature, apologetics. Form of the New Testament (gospels plus early epistles) is fixed. Gospels are used in anti-heretical defenses arguing that the Petrine church was specifically ordained by Jesus and thus has unique authority. Supersessionism is increasingly used to justify the fact that Christianity is an ancient religion and thus avoid persecution. Gospels are given tremendous weight and are increasing seen as authoritative. Luke[129] and Acts are written to create an imaginary history for the church in its anti-heresy battles.

Other writers

Revilo P. Oliver, a noted white nationalist and holocaust denier, argued that the Jesus of the New Testament was a composite of multiple Jesuses active in Palestine in and around the first century structured along mythical lines derived from Indian sources.[130]

John M. Allegro proposed that Christianity began as shamanic religion based on the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms.[131] Upon the publication of Allegro's relevant work, his "thesis was dismissed by fifteen experts in Semetic languages and related fields who lodged their protest in a letter that was published in the May 26, 1970 issue of The Times...They judged that Allegro's views were 'not based on any philological or other evidence that they can regard as scholarly.'" Further, John A. T. Robinson has stated that if Allegro's style of reasoning appeared in other academic disciplines it "would be laughed out of court."[132]

Robert M. Price does not consider himself as a proponent of the theory, but argues that if one applies critical methodology with "ruthless consistency" then one is left in complete agnosticism regarding Jesus' historicity,[133] and that the burden of proof is on those holding to Jesus's historicity.[134] In his Deconstructing Jesus[135], Price argues that when even liberal Protestant scholars produce reconstructions of the "historical Jesus" they are, as Albert Schweitzer pointed out long ago, creating their own Jesus icons to authorize a religious agenda. To Price this is no surprise, since he views the Jesus Christ of the gospels as very likely a fictional amalgam of several first-century prophets and messiahs, as well as of purely mythic Mystery Cult redeemers and Gnostic Aions. To demonstrate his point, Price follows Burton Mack's outline of a range of "Jesus movements" and "Christ cults," showing the origins of each one's Jesus figures and how they may have finally merged into the patchwork savior of Christian dogma. Finally, Price argues that there is good reason to believe that Jesus never existed as a historical figure, and that responsible historians must remain agnostic about a "historical Jesus" and what he stood for.[136] Price's views have received harsh criticism by a range of scholars including James D.G. Dunn, Luke Timothy Johnson, Darrell Bock and John Dominic Crossan[137]. Tony Costa in a 2009 review of Jesus is Dead appearing in the Society of Biblical Literature's Review of Biblical Literature describing his work as "not a serious discussion of the issues" so much as "an extremely bitter rant."[138]

D. M. Murdock (publishing in part pseudonymously as Acharya S) has written five books in support of the Christ myth theory. She argues that the canonical gospels represent a middle to late 2nd-century CE creation utilizing Old Testament "prophetic" scriptures as a blueprint, in combination with a collage of other, older Pagan and Jewish concepts, and that Christianity was thereby fabricated in order to compete with the other popular religions of the time.

The Jesus Project

The Jesus Project is an ongoing inquiry into the historical existence of Jesus. Initiated by R. Joseph Hoffmann, the project is a follow-up to the Jesus Seminar that regards the existence of Jesus as a "testable hypothesis."[139]


The arguments for the Christ myth theory center on the idea that the figure of Jesus was a fabrication of early Christians, and proponents point to a lack of reliability of historical accounts in first- and second-century CE documents traditionally held as evidence for the historical existence of Jesus:

Earliest recorded references

New Testament epistles

The letters of Paul of Tarsus are among the earliest surviving Christian writings, probably predating all the gospels. For the Christ myth theory it is of importance that the epistles do not mention details of Jesus' life and ministry, though there are several passages that are traditionally interpreted to refer to his time on earth; for instance, "... concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh.." (Romans 1:3), "... By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh ..." (Romans 8:3) or "Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.."(Galatians 3:1). In his book Jesus and the Logic of History, Paul Barnett lists 15 such details gleaned from Paul's letters.[140] R. T. France, in his book, also argues that the Apostle Paul spoke of Jesus as a physical being and that there are several references to historical facts about Jesus' life in Paul's letters.[141]

The absence of references to Jesus' teachings and acts has been interpreted by a number of scholars and authors to indicate that the early Christians who wrote the epistles were not aware of a/the historical Jesus or at least of his life's details. For example, Earl Doherty holds that these early authors did not believe that Jesus had been on Earth at all. He argues that the earliest Christians accepted a Platonic cosmology that distinguished a "higher" spiritual world from the Earthly world of matter, and that they viewed Jesus as having descended only into the "lower reaches of the spiritual world".[115] Doherty also suggests that this view was accepted by the authors of the Pastoral epistles, 2 Peter, and various second-century Christian writings outside the New Testament. Doherty contends that apparent references in these writings to events on earth, and a physical historic Jesus, should in fact be regarded as allegorical metaphors.[116]

Opponents regard such interpretations as forced and argue that they are mostly based on arguments from silence, which are by themselves unpersuasive.[141]

Apostolic Fathers

In the letter called 1 Clement, written "sometime during the last two decades of the first century"[142] the author speaks of Jesus as someone who was physically present eg 1 Clement 16 (quoting Is.53:1-12)[143].

In the Letters of Ignatius written around c.110, Ignatius speaks of Jesus as someone of whom we should "be fully convinced about the birth and the suffering and the resurrection that took place during the time of the governorship of Pontius Pilate" (Ignatius to the Magnesians, ch.11)[144]. In his Letter to the Trallians (ch.9) he writes about Jesus "who was of the family of David, who was the son of Mary; who really was born, who both ate and drank; who really was persecuted under Pontius Pilate, who really was crucified and died ... who, moreover, really was raised from the dead ..."[145]

Similarly Polycarp in his Letter to the Philippians (ch.7), written c.110, writes "... that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh ..."[146].

Early non-Christian references to Jesus

Four early writers are typically cited in support of the actual existence of Jesus: Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger. Many challengers to their usefulness point out that each of these writers have problems.

  • The two references to Jesus in the Antiquities of Josephus (written 93 CE) are contested on different grounds. The first reference Testimonium Flavianum is challenged on the grounds that the passage is known to have been tampered with based on comments by Origen and that it seems to break the flow of the passage it appears in. The challenge to the second passage is due the "Jesus, the son of Damneus" near the end; this is used to argue that this is a different Jesus whose brother was called James and therefore either the "who is called the Christ" part is an insertion or that this is another person given the title Christ.
  • The passage by Tacitus (circa 117) is challenged based on the fact he did not state his reference material and could have just been repeating what the Christians of the time were saying. The article Tacitus on Christ has an extended discussion, and the Tacitus section of Historicity of Jesus also has additional information.
  • Suetonius is challenged on the fact his reference to "Chrestus" is so vague as to be nearly useless. See Suetonius section of Historicity of Jesus for greater details.
  • There are references to Christians in the letters of Pliny the Younger,[147] but they give no specific information about the founder of this movement.

The Babylonian Talmud contains several references to the name Yeshu that have been traditionally identified with Jesus of Nazareth. However, these same passages have been used to show that the biblical Jesus is based upon an earlier figure who lived about 100 BCE.[148][149] Furthermore, tradition has the Babylonian Talmud being compiled in the late third to early fourth century CE, limiting its value to determining events of the 1st century CE.

Some scholars doubt that these sources refute the Jesus-myth theory. Charles Guignebert, Professor of the History Of Christianity at the Sorbonne, who does believe that Jesus of the Gospels existed and lived in Galilee during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, discounts the worth of all the non-Christian sources as proof of the existence of Jesus. Thus "all the pagan and Jewish testimonies, so-called, afford us no information of any value about the life of Jesus, nor even any assurance that he ever lived..."[150]

Robert M. Price says that these non-Christian references, even if taken as genuine, merely amount to an account of what the ancient Christians of the time were saying about Jesus, not that the writers were claiming Jesus as a contemporary.

Omissions in early records

Many proponents of the Christ myth theory point out that there is a complete lack of non-Christian documents that make reference to Jesus before the end of the first century, and note the survival of writings by a number of Roman and Jewish commentators and historians who wrote in the first century but which lack mention of events described in the Gospels, taking this as evidence that Jesus was invented later. Opponents of the theory argue that arguments from silence are unreliable.[141]

Justus of Tiberias wrote at the end of the first century a history of Jewish kings, with whom the gospels state Jesus had interacted. Justus' history does not survive, but Photius, who read it in the 9th century, stated that it did not mention "the coming of Christ, the events of His life, or the miracles performed by Him."[151] The Jewish historian Philo, who lived in the first half of the 1st century also fails to mention Jesus, as do other major contemporary writers[152]

In response to Jesus myth proponents who argue the lack of early non-Christian sources, or question their authenticity, R. T. France counters that "even the great histories of Tacitus have survived in only two manuscripts, which together contain scarcely half of what he is believed to have written, the rest is lost" and that the life of Jesus, from a Roman point of view, was not a major event.[141]

R.T. France states that Christianity was actively opposed by both the Roman Empire and the Jewish authorities, and would have been utterly discredited if Jesus had been shown as a non-historical figure. He argues that there is evidence in Pliny, Josephus and other sources of the Roman and Jewish approaches at the time, and none of them involved this suggestion.[141]

Influenced by the Old Testament

Advocates of the Jesus-myth believe that the gospels are not history but a type of midrash: creative narratives based on the stories, prophecies, and quotes in the Hebrew Bible. Doherty has argued that when the midrashic elements are removed, little to no content remains that could be used to demonstrate the existence of a historical Jesus.[153][154]

A majority of scholars[155][156] explain the similarities between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke using the two-source hypothesis, according to which, Matthew and Luke derived most of their content from Mark and from a lost collection of Jesus' sayings known as the Q document. In the small amount of additional material unique to Matthew, Jesus is presented with strong parallels to Old Testament figures, most noticeably Moses.[157][158][159] Early Doherty argues therefore there is no reason to assume that the sayings attributed to a postulated Q document originated with Jesus.[160]

Though believing that the gospels may contain some creativity and midrash, opponents of the Jesus-myth argue that the gospels are more akin to ancient Greco-Roman biographies.[161] Such works attempted to impart historical information about historical figures but were not comprehensive and could include legendary developments.

Comparisons with Mediterranean mystery religions

Some proponents of the Christ myth theory have argued that many aspects of the Gospel stories of Jesus have remarkable parallels with life-death-rebirth gods in the widespread mystery religions prevalent in the Hellenistic culture in which Christianity was born. Some prominent early Christians, such as Irenaeus and Justin Martyr, recognized some of these parallels; Justin specifically used several to attempt to prove that Christianity was not a new cult, but that it was rooted in ancient prophecy which had been "diabolically imitated."[162]

The central figure of one of the most widespread, Osiris-Dionysus, was consistently localised and deliberately merged with local deities in each area, since it was the mysteries which were imparted that were regarded as important, not the method by which they were taught. In the view of some advocates of the Jesus Myth, most prominently Freke and Gandy in The Jesus Mysteries, Jewish mystics adapted their form of Osiris-Dionysus to match prior Jewish heroes like Moses and Joshua, hence creating Jesus.[97]

Several parallels are frequently cited by these advocates, and often appear, mixed with other parallels, on internet sites.[163] The most prominently cited parallels are with Horus[164] and Mithras.[165] Horus was one of the life-death-rebirth deities, and was connected and involved with those of Osiris.[164]

Michael Grant does not see the similarities between Christianity and pagan religions to be significant. Grant states that "Judaism was a milieu to which doctrines of the deaths and rebirths, of mythical gods seemed so entirely foreign that the emergence of such a fabrication from its midst is very hard to credit."[166]

Historiography and methodology

Earl Doherty argues that the gospels are inconsistent concerning "such things as the baptism and nativity stories, the finding of the empty tomb and Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances" and contain numerous "contradictions and disagreements in the accounts of Jesus' words and deeds". He concludes that the evangelists freely altered their sources and invented material, and therefore could not have been concerned to preserve historical information.[115]

A similar tack works from the claim that the dates in canonical and non-canonical sources do not match up.[167] For example it is stated in the Toldoth Yeshu that one Yeshu, identified with Jesus was killed under Salome Alexandra,[148] and Luke and Matthew have different birth dates that are nearly a decade apart.

This criticism has frequently been answered by the observation: "The fact of Christianity's beginnings and the character of its earliest traditions is such that we could only deny the existence of Jesus by hypothesizing the existence of some other figure who was a sufficient cause of Christianity's beginnings - another figure who on careful reflection would probably come out very like Jesus!"[168]

Scholarly reception

A book-length response to early advocates of the Christ Myth, described by R. Joseph Hoffmann as "perhaps the best of its kind",[169] came from the French Biblical scholar Maurice Goguel in 1925. Goguel rejected arguments for a "pre-Christianity", and argued that "preliminary" evidence for a historical Jesus came from the agreement on his existence between ancient orthodox Christians, Docetists and opponents of Christianity. Goguel proceeded to examine the theology of the Pauline epistles, the other New Testament epistles, the Gospels and the Book of Revelation, as well as belief in Jesus' resurrection and divinity. He argued in each case that Christian beliefs were best explained by a tradition stemming from a recent historical Jesus.[170]

Scholars further argue that while a number of versions of the Christ myth theory presuppose that Christianity had obscure beginnings, they fail to notice that the early Christians appealed to historical events already known by the general public.[171] "For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner.” Acts 26:26,[172] and “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16.[173] The early Christians appealed to real historical events to advance their faith and they opposed speculative and mythical notions by appealing to eyewitness accounts.[174]

A number of writers have stated that the theory has limited acceptance in the relevant scholarly circles today. Richard Burridge and Graham Gould (2004: References below) state that the questioning of Jesus' existence is not accepted by mainstream critical scholarship.[7] Michael Grant believes that the Christ myth theory fails to satisfy modern critical methodology, and is rejected by all but a few modern scholars,[11] stating,

...if we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned...To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory."[175]

Likewise Graham N. Stanton writes,

Today nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically. There is general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first- or second century Jewish or pagan religious teacher."[10]

James Charlesworth writes that "No reputable scholar today questions that a Jew named Jesus son of Joseph lived; most readily admit that we now know a considerable amount about his actions and basic teachings ..."[9] a conclusion shared by Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright.[12]

Robert E. Van Voorst has stated that biblical scholars and historians regard the Jesus never existed thesis as "effectively refuted",[8] with contemporary New Testament scholars typically viewing the Jesus-mythers arguments "as so weak or bizarre that they relegate them to footnotes, or often ignore them completely..."

Jesus myth proponent Earl Doherty responds to Van Voorst's claim, stating "after a survey of the history of research into the historical Jesus, Van Voorst tackles 'the noisy side current' of Jesus mythicism. He notes that over one hundred books and essays during the last two centuries have denied the existence of Jesus. Their arguments, he says, are dismissed as 'weak and bizarre' by contemporary New Testament scholars. Van Voorst is quite right in saying that 'mainstream scholarship today finds it unimportant.' Most of their comment (such as those quoted by Michael Grant) are limited to expressions of contempt." However, he insists that the "contempt" in which the theory is held "is not to be mistaken for refutation," arguing that mainstream scholars have failed to keep up with the details of the modern Jesus myth.[176]


The chart below describes the Christ myth theory and contrasts it with conservative Christianity and mainstream academic scholarship to help clarify the points of dispute. All 3 columns represent broad positions, generalizations and averages, and there are exceptions to each point for virtually every author. "Conservative Christianity" here is being used to represent the positions of scholars whose views are consistent with, and explained in, the article Christian views of Jesus, as well as the Christianity article. "Mainstream Scholarship" here is being used to represent the general consensus of interdisciplinary academic research, including historical theology, secular and biblical archaeology, and the majority of biblical scholars utilizing both lower criticism and higher criticism. Those views are detailed in Historical Jesus. Christ Myth theory refers to the current position of the proponents of Christ Myth theory. These theories lack mainstream scholarly support for some of the reasons discussed below.

Conservative Christian Scholarship Mainstream Scholarship Christ Myth theory
Ideas originated in traditional Christianity. Ideas originated in liberal Christianity.[177][178] Ideas originated among the anti-religious: atheists, freethinkers, deists,[179] often in response to the "Quest for the historical Jesus" of mainstream scholarship.
Jesus was both man and God incarnate in a hypostatic union.[180] Jesus was a man who came to be seen as God.[181] Jesus was a God who came to be seen as a man.[182]
Gospels are a historical record written by, or based on first-hand accounts from, Jesus' followers.[183][184][185] Gospels are later works based on materials that are themselves written by, or based on first-hand accounts from, Jesus' followers.[186] The Gospels are composed as theological works containing little or nothing that occurred in a historical sense.[187][188]
Most believe that Q document was the source of much material in Luke and Matthew, according to the Two-source hypothesis. Others believe that the gospel writers were 4 independent witnesses[183][185] or the "Q material" in Luke came from Matthew.[189] Most believe that Q document was the source of much material in Luke and Matthew, according to the Two-source hypothesis. Others believe that the "Q material" in Luke came from Matthew.[189] Earlier versions or pieces of the Q document may have some components that talk about a historical person, but that person had nothing to do with founding Christianity nor was the being that the epistles talk about.[190][191][192][193]
The book of Acts is an accurate record of early Christian development.[183][184] The book of Acts is propaganda but the basic story of the Jerusalem church spreading out under Paul is correct.[194][195][196] The book of Acts is almost entirely fiction, Christianity came out of Alexandria.[197][198]
Identifies the first Christians with "Judaism" and/or the revelations of Moses and the prophets. Does not generally identify Christianity with a sect within Judaism. Identifies the first Christians with Palestinian sects of Judaism like the Pharisees or Essenes.[199]{pn}}[200] Identifies Christianity with Hellenistic Judaism which centered itself in Alexandria.[197][198]
Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy spirit.[180][201][202] Jesus was likely born of Mary, the virgin birth was a later add on, with authors split as to the reason.[202][203] Jesus was associated with savior gods, who are frequently ascribed unusual births in mythology.[204]
Jesus is the Logos of God through whom all things were made.[180] A historical human behind the Jesus of the NT Canon existed. Secular scholarship is skeptical regarding any divine nature ascribed to him in Christian literature.[205] Jesus is the Logos of Yahweh, and the Logos was the mechanism certain Hellenistic Jews attributed to the creation.
Jesus rose in the 3rd day after his crucifixion in fulfillment of the scriptures.[180] Jesus died on the cross but his followers continued to have spiritual experiences and saw his resurrection as being fulfilled. He may also have believed during his life he would rise. Jesus is a creation of scriptures and thus fulfills them. Resurrection is an integral component of a life-death-rebirth deity.[206][207]
Jesus would not fulfill the military mission during his life but, He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.[180] Jesus did not see the messiah as having a military role and reinterpreted these passages spiritually. He did however believe that God would provide miracles to fulfill the military function of the messiah. Salvation was understood in a non material sense by Jewish Gnosticism and this carried through to early Christianity. When later the title messiah was applied apocalyptic literature featuring Jesus (for example the Book of Revelation) was created.[208]
Nominally Christian works rejected as heretical, including the Gnostic Gospels, were generally written in the 2nd and 3rd century under the influence of Satan.[209] They should be examined to help contextualize works of the early church fathers who wrote against them[210] and to understand modern spiritual movements.[211] Most works rejected as heretical were written by disparate minority/regional sects in 2nd and 3rd century, versus the canonical texts which are late 1st to early 2nd century. They represent alternate minority views about Jesus and can often provide useful information on the context for, and influences on, the development of Christianity. They do not contain decisive information about Jesus himself.[212]{pn}} Gnostic and other heretical texts represent early strands of Christianity, and demonstrate the diversity within the early Christian community. They should be given a great deal of weight in the study of early Christian development.[213][214][215]
Progression of beliefs:[216]{pn}}
  1. Hasidean Judaism
  2. Palestinian Judaism
  3. Jewish Christianity
  4. Orthodox Christianity
  5. Christian Gnosticism
Progression of beliefs:[217]
  1. Hasidean Judaism
  2. Pharisaic and/or Essene Judaism
  3. Jewish Christianity
  4. Pauline Christianity
  5. Orthodox Christianity & Christian Gnosticism
Progression of beliefs:[197]
  1. Hellenized Judaism
  2. Hellenistic Judaism
  3. Gnosticising Jews
  4. Christian Gnosticism
  5. Orthodox Christianity
Comparative mythological elements are historic fact. The existence of pre-existing myth is the result of demonic imitation[219] or divine foreshadowing.[220] Myths of all types were added on to embellish Jesus' biography. Hellenistic Judaism was a synthetic religion and had absorbed myths of all types, hence Jesus biography was constructed from myths of all types.

See also


  1. Farmer 1975, p. 43: "The radical solution was to deny the possibility of reliable knowledge of Jesus, and out of this developed the Christ myth theory, according to which Jesus never existed as a historical figure and the Christ of the Gospels was a social creation of a messianic community."
  2. Goguel 1926b, pp. 117-118
  3. Gerrish (1975) p. 13.
  4. Bennett 2001, p. 202
  5. Townsend 2006, p. 150n2
  6. [1][2][3][4][5]
  7. 7.0 7.1 "There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more.” Burridge 2004, p. 34
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Although Wells has been probably the most able advocate of the nonhistoricity theory, he has not been persuasive and is now almost a lone voice for it. The theory of Jesus' nonexistence is now effectively dead as a scholarly question." and "The nonhistoricity thesis has always been controversial, and it has consistently failed to convince scholars of many disciplines and religious creeds... Biblical scholars and classical historians now regard it as effectively refuted." - Van Voorst 2000, p. 14 & 16
  9. 9.0 9.1 "No reputable scholar today questions that a Jew named Jesus son of Joseph lived; most readily admit that we now know a considerable amount about his actions and his basict eachings."Charlesworth 2006, p. xxiii
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Today, nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically. There is general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first or second century Jewish or pagan religious teacher." Stanton 2002, p. 145
  11. 11.0 11.1 "To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars'. In recent years 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus' -- or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary."Grant 1995, p. 200
  12. 12.0 12.1 "I think that there are hardly any historians today, in fact I don't know of any historians today, who doubt the existence of Jesus... So I think that question can be put to rest.", Wright, N. T., "The Self-Revelation of God in Human History: A Dialogue on Jesus with N. T. Wright", There Is A God, Flew, Antony & Varghese, Roy Abraham (New York: HarperOne, 2007) 188. ISBN 978-0061335297
  13. "The alternative thesis... that within thirty years there had evolved such a coherent and consistent complex of traditions about a non-existent figure such as we have in the sources of the Gospels is just too implausible. It involves too many complex and speculative hypotheses, in contrast to the much simpler explanation that there was a Jesus who said and did more or less what the first three Gospels attribute to him.", Dunn, James D. G. The Evidence for Jesus. (Louisville: Westminster, 1985) 29.
  14. "This is always the fatal flaw of the 'Jesus myth' thesis: the improbability of the total invention of a figure who had purportedly lived within the generation of the inventers, or the imposition of such an elaborate myth on some minor figure from Galilee. [Robert] Price is content with the explanation that it all began 'with a more or less vague savior myth.' Sad, really." Dunn, James D. G. , "Response to Robert M. Price", The Historical Jesus: Five Views, James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy eds., (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009) 98.
  15. "[A]n attempt to show that Jesus never existed has been made in recent years by G. A. Wells, a Professor of German who has ventured into New Testament study and presents a case that the origins of Christianity can be explained without assuming that Jesus really lived. Earlier presentations of similar views at the turn of the century failed to make any impression on scholarly opinion, and it is certain that this latest presentation of the case will not fare any better. For of course the evidence is not confined to Tacitus; there are the New Testament documents themselves, nearly all of which must be dated in the first century, and behind which there lies a period of transmission of the story of Jesus which can be traced backwards to a date not far from that when Jesus is supposed to have lived. To explain the rise of this tradition without the hypothesis of Jesus is impossible." Marshall, Ian Howard, I Believe in the Historical Jesus, rev. ed. (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2004) 15-16.
  16. "[Robert] Price thinks the evidence is so weak for the historical Jesus that we cannot know anything certain or meaningful about him. He is even willing to entertain the possibility that there never was a historical Jesus. Is the evidence of Jesus really that thin? Virtually no scholar trained in history will agree with Price's negative conclusions." Evans, Craig A., Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006) 25.
  17. "We know a lot about Jesus, vastly more than about John the Baptist, Theudas, Judas the Galilean, or any of the other figures whose names we have from approximately the same date and place." Sanders, E. P., The Historical Figure of Jesus, (New York: Penguin Press, 1993) xiv.
  18. "Since the Enlightenment, the Gospel stories about the life of Jesus have been in doubt. Intellectuals then as now asked: 'What makes the stories of the New Testament any more historically probable than Aesop's fables or Grimm's fairy tales?' The critics can be answered satisfactorily...For all the rigor of the standard it sets, the criterion [of embarrassment] demonstrates that Jesus existed.", Segal, Alan F., "Believe Only the Embarrassing", Slate, posted December 21, 2005, accessed December 2, 2009.
  19. "Some writers may toy with the fancy of a 'Christ-myth,' but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the 'Christ-myth' theories.", Bruce, F. F., The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? 5th revised edition, (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972) 123.
  20. "Even the most critical historian can confidently assert that a Jew named Jesus worked as a teacher and wonder-worker in Palestine during the reign of Tiberius, was exicuted by crucifiction under the prefect Pontius Pilate, and continued to have followers after his death.", Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Real Jesus, (San Francisco: Harper, 1996) 121. ISBN 978-0060641665
  21. "It is certain, however, that Jesus was arrested while in Jerusalem for the Passover, probably in the year 30, and that he was cannot be doubted that Peter was a personal disciple of Jesus", (emphasis added) Koester, Helmut, Introduction to the New Testament, vol. 2, (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982) 76 & 164.
  22. "Jesus is in no danger of suffering Catherine [of Alexandria]'s fate as an unhistorical myth", Allison, Dale C., The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009) 37. ISBN 978-082862624
  23. "I don't think there's any serious historian who doubts the existence of Jesus. There are a lot of people who want to write sensational books and make a lot of money who say Jesus didn't exist. But I don't know any serious scholar who doubts the existence of Jesus.", Ehrman, Bart, Discussion on the Infidel Guy Radio Show, audio available at, relevant material begins at timestamp 24:57, accessed December 6, 2009.
  24. "By no means are we at the mercy of those who doubt or deny that Jesus ever lived.", Bultmann, Rudolf, "The Study of the Synoptic Gospels", in Form Criticism, transled by Fredrick C. Grant (New York: Harper & Brother, 1962) 62. and "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." Bultmann, Rudolf, Jesus and the Word(New York: C. Scribner’s sons, 1934) introduction.
  25. "It is the nature of historical work that we are always involved in probability judgments. Granted, some judgments are so probable as to be certain; for example, Jesus really existed and really was crucified, just as Julius Caeser really existed and was assassinated." Borg, Marcus, "A Vision of the Christians Life", in The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, Borg, Marcus & Wright, N. T. (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1999) 236.
  26. "If one were able to survey the members of the major learned societies dealing with antiquity, it would be difficult to find more than a handful who believe that Jesus of Nazareth did not walk the dusty roads of Palestine in the first three decades of the Common Era. Evidence for Jesus as a historical personage is incontrovertible.", Gasque, W. Ward, "The Leading Religion Writer in Canada ... Does He Know What He's Talking About?", George Mason University's History News Network, posted August 9, 2004, accessed November 26, 2009.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 "A hundred and fifty years ago a fairly well respected scholar named Bruno Bauer maintained that the historical person Jesus never existed. Anyone who says that today--in the academic world at least--gets grouped with the skinheads who say there was no Holocaust and the scientific holdouts who want to believe the world is flat." Powell, Mark Allan, Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee, (Louisvile: Westminster John Knox, 1998) 168.
  28. "An examination of the claims for and against the historicity of Jesus thus reveals that the difficulties faced by those undertaking to prove that he is not historical, in the fields both of the history of religion and the history of doctrine, and not least in the interpretation of the earliest tradition are far more numerous and profound than those which face their opponents. Seen in their totality, they must be considered as having no possible solution. Added to this, all hypotheses which have so far been put forward to the effect that Jesus never lived are in the strangest opposition to each other, both in their method of working and their interpretation of the Gospel reports, and thus merely cancel each other out. Hence we must conclude that the supposition that Jesus did exist is exceedingly likely, whereas its converse is exceedingly unlikely. This does not mean that the latter will not be proposed again from time to time, just as the romantic view of the life of Jesus is also destined for immortality. It is even able to dress itself up with certain scholarly technique, and with a little skillful manipulation can have much influence on the mass of people. But as soon as it does more than engage in noisy polemics with 'theology' and hazards an attempt to produce real evidence, it immediately reveals itself to be an implausible hypothesis." Schweitzer, Albert, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, trans. John Bowden, (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001) 435-436.
  29. 29.0 29.1 "The very logic that tells us there was no Jesus is the same logic that pleads that there was no Holocaust. On such logic, history is no longer possible. It is no surprise then that there is no New Testament scholar drawing pay from a post who doubts the existence of Jesus. I know not one. His birth, life, and death in first-century Palestine have never been subject to serious question and, in all likelihood, never will be among those who are experts in the field. The existence of Jesus is a given." (emphasis original) Perrin, Nicholas, Lost in Transmission?: What We Can Know About the Words of Jesus, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007) 32.
  30. "In fact, there is more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth certainly lived than for most famous figures of the ancient past. This evidence is of two kinds: internal and external, or, if you will, sacred and secular. In both cases, the total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus' existence. And yet this pathetic denial is still parroted by 'the village atheist,' bloggers on the internet, or such organizations as the Freedom from Religion Foundation." Maier, Paul L. "Did Jesus Really Exist?",, accessed December 27, 2009.
  31. 31.0 31.1 "I am not sure, as I said earlier, that one can persuade people that Jesus did exist as long as they are ready to explain the entire phenomenon of historical Jesus and earliest Christianity either as an evil trick or a holy parable. I had a friend in Ireland who did not believe that Americans had landed on the moon but that they had created the entire thing to bolster their cold-war image against the communists. I got nowhere with him. So I am not at all certain that I can prove that the historical Jesus existed against such an hypothesis and probably, to be honest, I am not even interested in trying.", Crossan, John Dominic, "Historical Jesus: Materials and Methodology", Crosstalk online seminar, linked at The New Testament Gateway, posted February 28, 2000, accessed December 8, 2009.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 "While we do not have the fullness of biographical detail and the wealth of firsthand accounts that are available for recent public figures, such as Winston Churchill or Mother Teresa, we nonetheless have much more data on Jesus than we do for such ancient figures as Alexander the Great." and "Along with the scholarly and popular works, there is a good deal of pseudoscholarship on Jesus that finds its way into print. During the last two centuries more than a hundred books and articles have denied the historical existence of Jesus. Today innumerable websites carry the same message... Most scholars regard the arguments for Jesus' non-existence as unworthy of any response—on a par with claims that the Jewish Holocaust never occurred or that the Apollo moon landing took place in a Hollywood studio.", McClymond, Michael James, Familiar Stranger: an Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004) 8, 23-24.
  33. 33.0 33.1 "The denial that Christ was crucified is like the denial of the Holocaust. For some it's simply too horrific to affirm. For others it's an elaborate conspiracy to coerce religious sympathy. But the deniers live in a historical dreamworld." Piper, John, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2006) 14-15.
  34. 34.0 34.1 "I just finished reading, The Historical Jesus: Five Views. The first view was given by Robert Price, a leading Jesus myth proponent… The title of Price’s chapter is 'Jesus at the Vanishing Point.' I am convinced that if Price's total skepticism were applied fairly and consistently to other figures in ancient history (Alexander the Great, Ptolemy, Cleopatra, Nero, etc.), they would all be reduced to 'the vanishing point.' Price's chapter is a perfect example of how someone can always, always find excuses to not believe something they don't want to believe, whether that be the existence of Jesus or the existence of the holocaust." (emphasis original), Ingolfsland, Dennis, "Five views on the historical Jesus", The Recliner Commentaries, posted December 3, 2009, accessed December 10, 2009.
  35. 35.0 35.1 "The Jesus mythers will continue to advance their thesis and complain of being kept outside of the arena of serious academic discussion. They carry their signs, 'Jesus Never Existed!' 'They won’t listen to me!' and label those inside the arena as 'Anti-Intellectuals,' 'Fundamentalists,' 'Misguided Liberals,' and 'Flat-Earthers.' Doherty & Associates are baffled that all but a few naïve onlookers pass them by quickly, wagging their heads and rolling their eyes. They never see that they have a fellow picketer less than a hundred yards away, a distinguished looking man from Iran. He too is frustrated and carries a sign that says 'The Holocaust Never Happened!'" Licona, Michael R., "Licona Replies to Doherty's Rebuttal", Answering Infidels, accessed December 10, 2009.
  36. 36.0 36.1 "You know that you can try to minimize your biases, but you can't eliminate them. That's why you have to put certain checks and balances in place… Under this approach, we only consider facts that meet two criteria. First, there must be very strong historical evidence supporting them. And secondly, the evidence must be so strong that the vast majority of today's scholars on the subject—including skeptical ones—accept these as historical facts. You're never going to get everyone to agree. There are always people who deny the Holocaust or question whether Jesus ever existed, but they're on the fringe." Licona, Michael R., interviewed in The Case for the Real Jesus Strobel, Lee, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007) 112.
  37. "We can be certain that Jesus really existed (despite a few highly motivated skeptics who refuse to be convinced), that he was a Jewish teacher in Galilee, and that he was crucified by the Roman government around 30 CE.", Miller, Robert J., The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics, (Santa Rosa: Polebridge Press, 1999) 38.
  38. "Richard [Carrier] takes the extremist position that Jesus of Nazareth never even existed, that that was no such person in history. This is a position that is so extreme that to call it marginal would be an understatement; it doesn’t even appear on the map of contemporary New Testament scholarship." Craig, William Lane, from "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?," a debate with Richard Carrier, conducted at Northwestern Missouri State University, March 18, 2009, audio available at, relevant material begins at timestamp 2:37, accessed December 29, 2009.
  39. "[T]here is substantial evidence that a person by the name of Jesus once existed." Funk, Robert, Honest to Jesus: Jesus for a New Millenium, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997) 33.
  40. See comments by Richard A. Burridge,[7] Robert E. Van Voorst,[8] James H. Charlesworth,[9] Graham Stanton,[10] Michael Grant,[11] N. T. Wright,[12] James D. G. Dunn,[13][14] I. Howard Marshall,[15] Craig A. Evans,[16] E. P. Sanders,[17] Alan F. Segal,[18] F. F. Bruce,[19] Luke Timothy Johnson,[20] Helmut Koester,[21] Dale C. Allison,[22] Bart Ehrman,[23] Rudolf Bultmann,[24] Marcus Borg,[25] W. Ward Gasque,[26] Mark Allan Powell,[27] Albert Schweitzer,[28] Nicholas Perrin,[29] Paul L. Maier,[30] John Dominic Crossan,[31] Michael James McClymond,[32] John Piper,[33] Dennis Ingolfsland,[34] Michael R. Licona,[35][36] Robert J. Miller,[37] William Lane Craig,[38] and Robert Funk.[39]
  41. "Finley: There are some people in the chat room disagreeing, of course, but they’re saying that there really isn’t any hardcore evidence, though, that… I mean… but there isn’t any… any evidence, really, that Jesus did exist except what people were saying about him. But… Ehrman: I think… I disagree with that. Finley: Really? Ehrman: I mean, what hardcore evidence is there that Julius Caesar existed? Finley: Well, this is… this is the same kind of argument that apologists use, by the way, for the existence of Jesus, by the way. They like to say the same thing you said just then about, well, what kind of evidence do you have for Jul… Ehrman: Well, I mean, it’s… but it’s just a typical… it’s just… It’s a historical point; I mean, how do you establish the historical existence of an individual from the past? Finley: I guess… I guess it depends on the claims… Right, it depends on the claims that people have made during that particular time about a particular person and their influence on society... Ehrman: It’s not just the claims. There are… One has to look at historical evidence. And if you… If you say that historical evidence doesn’t count, then I think you get into huge trouble. Because then, how do… I mean… then why not just deny the Holocaust?", Ehrman, Bart, Discussion on the Infidel Guy Radio Show, audio available at, relevant material begins at timestamp 26:59, accessed December 8, 2009.
  42. In a chapter entitled "Faith and the Historical Jesus," Dunn includes a subsection named "What Can History Deliver?" Under the sub-heading "Probability Not Certainty" Dunn illustrates the manner in which people can exploit the lack of absolute certainty involved in historiography with reference to Holocaust denial. Dunn, James, Christianity in the Making, vol. I: Jesus Remembered, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003) 103. Robert J. Miller makes a similar point in a similar way, only in his case mentioning the theoretical possibility of doubting President Kennedy's assassination and the moon landing before discussing the near certainty of Jesus' historical existence and dismissing the advocates of the Christ Myth. Miller, Robert J., The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics, (Santa Rosa: Polebridge Press, 1999) 37-38.
  43. Crossan and McClymond have compared advocates of the Christ Myth theory with those who believe the Apollo moon landing was a hoax.[31][32] Powell has classed advocates with flat-earthers.[27] And comparisons of varying explicitness between Christ Myth advocates and Holocaust deniers have been made by Perrin,[29] Powell,[27] Ehrman,[41] Piper,[33] Ingolfsland,[34] Licona,[35][36] and Dunn.[42]
  44. Goguel (1926a) 11.
  45. Goguel (1926a) 14; Van Voorst (2000) 8.
  46. Schweitzer (2000) 355; similarly Weaver (1999) 45.
  47. Wells (1969); more briefly Schweitzer (2000) 527 n. 1.
  48. Constantin-François Volney, Les ruines, ou Méditations sur les révolutions des empires (Paris: Desenne, 1791); English translation, The Ruins, or a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires (New York: Davis, 1796).
  49. C. F. Dupuis, Origine de tous les cultes (Paris: Chasseriau, 1794); English translation, The Origin of All Religious Worship (New York: Garland, 1984).
  50. Wells (1969) 153–156.
  51. Wells (1969) 159–160.
  52. Wells (1969) 151.
  53. Wells (1969) 155.
  54. Wells (1969) 157.
  55. 55.0 55.1 Goguel (1926b) 117.
  56. Schweitzer (2000) 356.
  57. Solmsen (1970) 277–279, not disputed by Wells (1973) 143: "The question of a date of birth I mention (155) in connection with the views of Dupuis, who did deny Jesus' historicity on grounds which ... I regard as inadequate."
  58. Schweitzer (2000) 124–128.
  59. Schweitzer (2000) 128–136.
  60. Schweitzer (2000) 124, 139–140.
  61. Engels, Frederick, "Bruno Bauer and Early Christianity" Sozialdemokrat May 4-11, 1882 republished in Marx and Engels, On Religion, Progress Publishers, 1966
  62. 62.0 62.1 Otto Pfleiderer, Development of Theology, p. 226 Quoted in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition.
  63. Douglas Moggach, The Philosophy and Politics of Bruno Bauer, 2003, Cambridge University Press, p.184
  64. Schweitzer (2000) 140–141.
  65. Van Voorst (2000) 9.
  66. Schweitzer (2000) 356, 527 n. 4; Van Voorst (2000) 10.
  67. Johnson, Edwin, Antiqua Mater: A Study of Christian Origins, (London: Trübner & Co., 1887) and "The Abolition of History," The New York Times, May 14, 1904, Page BR328.
  68. Weaver (1999) 46–47; cf. Schweitzer (2000) 359–361.
  69. Weaver (1999) 47.
  70. Schweitzer (2000) 356–359.
  71. Weaver (1999) 58.
  72. Robertson (1902) 6–12.
  73. Robertson (1902) 14–15.
  74. Robertson (1902) 2–3.
  75. Robertson(1996) ch. The Silence of Paul.
  76. Robertson (1902) 21, 32–33.
  77. Robertson (1902) 87–89.
  78. Robertson (1902) 22–25.
  79. Case (1911) 627.
  80. Hippolytus Philosophumena 5.10.
  81. Schweitzer (2000) 375.
  82. Schweitzer (2000) 378.
  83. Van Voorst (2000) 12.
  84. Weaver (1999) pg 50
  85. Gerrish (1975) pp. 3-4.
  86. Case (1912).
  87. Conybeare (1914).
  88. "JESUS NEVER LIVED, ASSERTS PROF. DREWS; Stirs Germany Deeply by Publicly Attacking Basis of the Christian Religion.", New York Times, February 6, 1910, 
  89. Case (1911) p. 2n1.
  90. G. I. P. Bolland: The Gospel Jesus
  91. Goguel (1926a) 22–23; Schweitzer (2000) 279–283.
  92. Goguel (1926a) 23; Schweitzer (2000) 369–372.
  93. Wheless, Joseph (1930). Forgery In Christianity. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf. 
  94. Wells, GA (September 1999). "Earliest Christianity". New Humanist 114 (3): 13–18. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  95. "A final argument against the nonexistence hypothesis comes from Wells himself. In his most recent book, The Jesus Myth, Wells has moved away from this hypothesis. He now accepts that there is some historical basis for the existence of Jesus, derived from the lost early 'gospel' 'Q' (the hypothetical source used by Matthew and Luke). Wells believes that it is early and reliable enough to show that Jesus probably did exist, although this Jesus was not the Christ that the later canonical Gospels portray. It remains to be seen what impact Wells's about-face will have on debate over the nonexistence hypothesis in popular circles.", Van Voorst, Robert E, "NonExistence Hypothesis," in Houlden, James Leslie (editor), Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia, page 660 (Santa Barbara 2003)
  96. "Wells has now abandoned the pure Christ Myth theory for which he is famous..." Price, Robert M., from the back cover of Wells' The Jesus Myth, (Peru, IL: Open Court, 1999).
  97. 97.0 97.1 Freke, T; Gandy, P (2001). The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God?. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0609807989. 
  98. Elwell, WA (2001). Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Baker Academic. ISBN 978-0801020759. 
  99. Duling, DC; Perrin,N (1993). The New Testament: Proclamation and Parenesis, Myth and History. Harcourt. ISBN 978-0155003781. 
  100. "Docetism". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  101. Kelly, J.N.D (1978). Early Christian Doctrines: Revised Edition. HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 978-0060643348. 
  102. Phillips, JB. "Book 24 - John's Second Letter". Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  103. Arendzen, J. P. (1909). "Docetae". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Volume V. New York: Robert Appleton. Retrieved 2007-01-07. 
  104. Gnosis und Gnostizismus ein Forshengsbericht
  105. Introduction to Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, (Philadelphia: Fortress) ISBN 0-8006-1363-5 Online
  106. Der vorchristliche jüdische Gnosticismus, as translated by Peason
  107. Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity (Studies in Antiquity and Christianity) Birger A. Pearson ISBN 0800631048, page 28
  108. Birger A. Pearson. (2006), Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity, Fortress Pr, pp. 9, 11, ISBN 0800637410, 
  109. Gnosticism and Platonism: The Platonizing Sethian texts from Nag Hammadi in their Relation to Later Platonic Literature, John D Turner, ISBN 0-7914-1338-1.
  110. see Gnostic Gospels for more on non canonical gospel accounts
  111. Birger A. Pearson. (2006), Gnosticism, Judaism, and Egyptian Christianity, Fortress Pr, pp. 166, ISBN 0800637410,,M1 
  112. Ferguson, Everett (2006), Backgrounds of early Christianity, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdman, pp. 308, ISBN 0802822215, 
  113. Keefer, Kyle (2006), The branches of the Gospel of John : the reception of the Fourth Gospel in the early church, London: T & T Clark International, pp. 22, ISBN 0567028615, 
  114. King, Karen L (2005), What is Gnosticism?, Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, pp. 137–38, ISBN 0674017625, 
  115. 115.0 115.1 115.2 Doherty, E (Fall 1997). "The Jesus Puzzle: Pieces in a Puzzle of Christian Origins" ([dead link]Scholar search). Journal of Higher Criticism 4 (2). Retrieved 2007-01-09. 
  116. 116.0 116.1 Doherty, E. "Christ as "Man": Does Paul Speak of Jesus as a Historical Person?". The Jesus Puzzle: Was There No Historical Jesus?. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  117. Price, C (2005-05-20). "Earl Doherty use of the phrase "According to the Flesh" (sic)". Bede's Library. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 
  118. Sound of Silence
  119. For the full argument Marcus Felix a Smoking Gun p285-290 of the Jesus puzzle or in more limited form online The Second Century Apologists
  120. See infidels on wells for samples of G.A. Wells
  121. G.A. Wells, The Jesus Legend, ch. The 'Sayings Gospel' Q
  122. Odes of Solomon
  123. Such knowledge will surely have seemed to Paul, and to other early Christians, confirmation of what he interpreted the Wisdom literature as telling him: that Jesus, a redeemer ('Jesus' means 'Yahweh saves') had come to earth and been killed long ago.... traditions on which the Talmud draws persistently place Jesus among those ancient victims by dating him somewhere in the second century B.C. Wells, The Jesus Legend, Catholic Truth on the Historicity of Jesus
  124. Doherty(1999) places Mark 90 CE Matthew 100 CE roughly on page 196
  125. It has long been acknowledged by scholars of the second century apologists that they show little if any connection to the type of cultic Christianity of the first century as represented by Paul. They thus find themselves in the position of having to explain this discontinuity. What happened to divorce the second century stream represented by the apologists from the first century Pauline antecedent? In that group, including Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Minucius Felix and (I maintain) in Justin's earliest thinking, there is not only no historical founder in view, there is no idea of incarnation, there is no atonement doctrine and no Calvary, there is no resurrection of a human or divine entity from the dead. These are major voids, quantum divergences from a presumed original faith movement that are hardly explainable by the rather feeble rationalizations provided by modern scholars. But they are hamstrung by their own preconceptions. They are reading a certain set of documents and beliefs into everything else. The most plausible explanation is that there was no discontinuity, no divorce or divergence from Paul or some of the early Fathers of the Church. Rather, these are the varied expressions of general trends of belief found throughout the Empire, trends which were only gradually coalescing and evolving into a commonality based on the ever more appealing and powerful figure created by the Gospels. Earl Doherty, reply to Gakusei Don find original!
  126. Jesus in the Apostolic Fathers at the Turn of the Second Century Earl Doherty
  127. For example, Tatian's Apology: "We are not fools, men of Greece, when we declare that God has been born in the form of man. . . Compare your own stories ... Take a look at your own records and accept us merely on the grounds that we too tell stories."
  128. Doherty (1999) page 269-71
  129. The Pre-Nicene New Testament has both Doherty and Price endorsing the John Knox theory (Marcion and the New Testament] that Luke came from Marcon's Gospel of the Lord 140-160
  130. "It is clear that the stories collected in the 'New Testament' are versions of a folk-tale formed, like the legend of Robin Hood, by the accretion around a central figure of episodes in the careers of a number of minor figures... The very foundation of the Christ Myth was borrowed from India. It created a christ who was modeled on Krishna (Krsna) who was the eighth avatar of Vishnu (Visnu)", Revilo P. Oliver, "Reflections on the Christ Myth", available at
  131. Allegro, John M. (1970). The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross: A Study of the Nature and Origins of Christianity Within the Fertility Cults of the Ancient Near East. London: Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-12875-5. 
  132. Habermas, Gary, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ, (Joplin, Missouri:College Press, 1996), p. 46
  133. "... their own criteria and critical tools, which we have sought to apply here with ruthless consistency, ought to have left them with complete agnosticism ...", p. 351 in Price, Robert M. (2003). The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable is the Gospel Tradition?. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-59102-121-9. 
  134. Price, Robert. "The Quest of the Mythical Jesus". Retrieved 2007-12-09. 
  135. Robert M. Price, Deconstructing Jesus ( (ISBN 1573927589))
  136. All from Deconstructing Jesus (ISBN 1573927589), summary from flap
  137. James K. Beilby et al., The Historical Jesus: Five Views
  140. Barnett,P (1997). Jesus and the Logic of History, Apollos, ISBN 978-0851115122, pp. 57-58. Among others, he mentions 1) descent from Abraham, 2) direct descent from David, 3) 'born of a woman', 4) lived in poverty, 5) born and lived under the law, 6) had a brother called James, 7) led a humble life style, 8) ministered primarily to Jews, etc.
  141. 141.0 141.1 141.2 141.3 141.4 France, RT (1986). Evidence for Jesus (Jesus Library). Trafalgar Square Publishing. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0340381728. 
  142. Holmes, M, (2007), The Apostolic Fathers, Baker Academic, p.37
  143. Holmes(2007),p.49
  144. Holmes(2007),p.106
  145. Holmes(2007),p.110
  146. Holmes(2007),p.138
  147. "Pliny, Letters 10.96-97". Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  148. 148.0 148.1 Mead, G.R.S. (1903): "Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.?" c
  149. Gil Student, The Jesus Narrative In The Talmud
  150. Jesus by Ch. Guignebert (Translated from the French by S. H. Hooke, Samuel Davidson Professor of Old Testament Studies, University of London), University Books, New Yory, 1956, p22
  151. Photius (1920). "33: Justus of Tiberias, Chronicle of the Kings of the Jews". The library of Photius. trans. J. H. Freese. London: SPCK. Retrieved 2007-01-03. 
  152. Wells, G.A. (1971) The Jesus of the Early Christians, A Study in Christian Origins, Pemberton Books, page 2.
  153. Doherty, E. "THE JESUS PUZZLE Was There No Historical Jesus?". Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  154. *Doherty, Earl (2000). The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin With a Mythical Christ? (rev. ed.). Ottawa: Canadian Humanist Publications. ISBN 0-9686014-0-5. 
  155. Christopher Tuckett: The current state of the Synoptic Problem, 2008 Oxford Conference In The Synoptic Problem
  156. see also Markan priority, Synoptic problem, Two-source hypothesis
  157. O'Toole, Robert F. (1990). "The Parallels Between Jesus and Moses". Biblical Theology Bulletin 20 (1): 22–29. doi:10.1177/014610799002000104. 
  158. Murdock (1999) Ch 15
  159. Troxel, Ronald L. University of Wisconsin Madison. Matthew's Jesus
  160. Doherty (1999) Jesus as symbol p. 238-9
  161. David E. Aune; The New Testament in its literary environment page 63-7
  162. Turcan, Robert (1996). The Cults of the Roman Empire. Blackwell. p. 233. ISBN 9780631200475. 
  163. [1][2]examples
  164. 164.0 164.1 Murdock (1999) p 114-6 and Murdock (2009)
  165. Murdock (1999) p 118-20
  166. In Grant's An Historian's Review of the Gospels. Grant refers to S. Neill, What we know about Jesus (Eerdmans, 1972 ed), p. 45 to support this view.
  167. eg The God Who Wasn't There
  168. Dunn (1986), JDG, 'The Evidence for Jesus',Westminster John Knox Press, p.29 ISBN=0664246982
  169. Hoffmann (2006) 34. Hoffmann criticises a number of Goguel's argument (23–34).
  170. Goguel (1926a).
  171. Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1982), International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J Volume 2 of The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, pp. 1034, ISBN 0802837824,, retrieved 2009-09-12 
  174. Henry, Carl Ferdinand Howard (1999), God, Revelation, and Authority: God who speaks and shows, preliminary considerations Volume 1 of God, Revelation, and Authority, Good News Publishers, pp. 162, ISBN 1581340419,, retrieved 2009-09-12 
  175. Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels (1977), pp. 199, 200
  176. Earl Doherty, "Responses to Critiques of the Mythicist Case: Four: Alleged Scholarly Refutations of Jesus Mythicism", available, accessed 03 September 2009.
  177. Boa, Kenneth "Letting Go:Liberal Christianity-Retreating from the Faith". Retrieved March 29, 2009. 
  178. "The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in historical garb. , Schweitzer (1913) p. 398
  179. Van Voorst (2000) p 16
  180. 180.0 180.1 180.2 180.3 180.4 Nicene Creed, 381 version with comparison to 325 apostle's creed
  181. McKnight, Scot (1996). "Who is Jesus? An Introduction to Jesus Studies". in Michael J Wilkins, J P Moreland. Jesus Under Fire. Zondervan. pp. 144. ISBN 0-310-21139-5. 
  182. Putting the Jesus Puzzle Together in 12 Easy Pieces Earl Doherty
  183. 183.0 183.1 183.2 Pope Pius X (September 8, 1907), "Pascendi Dominici Gregis (", Vatican, 
  184. 184.0 184.1 See Biblical inerrancy for an extended discussion
  185. 185.0 185.1 Greenleaf, Simon (1846). The Testimony of the Evangelists Examined by The Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice (online version of essay). reprint of the 1874 edition, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984). ISBN 0-8010-3803-0. 
  186. McKnight, Scot (1996). "Who is Jesus? An Introduction to Jesus Studies". in Michael J Wilkins, J P Moreland. Jesus Under Fire. Zondervan. pp. 73–8. ISBN 0-310-21139-5. 
  187. Doherty(1999) Chapter 22, The Gospels as Midrash and Symbolism see also online The Evolution of Jesus of Nazareth
  188. Wells(1996) Chapter 5, The Gospel of Mark: History of Dogma?
  189. 189.0 189.1 see Augustinian hypothesis for extended discussion
  190. Doherty(1999) ch 14
  191. Doherty, Earl. "The Evolution of Jesus of Nazareth". Retrieved 4-9-09. 
  192. Wells (1996) ch 6
  193. Leidner, Harold. The Fabrication of the Christ Myth (Tampa, FL: Survey Books, 1999) pp. 219-282.
  194. See Acts_of_the_Apostles#Historicity for further details
  195. Fashioning Jewish identity in medieval western Christendom, Robert Chazan page 48 online
  196. McKenzie, Steven L. (2005). How to Read the Bible. NY, NY 10016: Oxford University Press US. pp. 64–5. ISBN 0195161491. 
  197. 197.0 197.1 197.2 Doherty, Earl, Tracing the Christian Lineage in Alexandria,, retrieved March 29, 2009 
  198. 198.0 198.1 Friedlander, Moritz (1898 (1972)). Der vorchristliche judische Gnosticismus. Gottengen: Vandenhoeck & Roprecht reprint Farnborough: Gregg International. {pn}} see also Pearson (1990) Chapter 1
  199. Asserts Pharisees,Theissen, Gerd; Annette Merz (1998). The historical Jesus. Great Britain: Fortress Press. ISBN 0800631226. 
  200. Maccoby, Hyam (1986). The Mythmaker. San Francisco: HarperCollins. pp. 29–44. ISBN 0-76070-787-1. 
  201. Machen, J Gresham (1958). The Virgin Birth of Christ. James Clarke Company. pp. 1. ISBN 0227676300. 
  202. 202.0 202.1 "Virgin Birth". Baker's Evangelical Dictionary. Retrieved March 24, 2009. 
  203. Horrell, David G. (2006). An introduction to the study of Paul. T. & T. Clark Publishers. pp. 63–5. ISBN 0567040836. 
  204. James Still. "The Virgin Birth and Childhood Mysteries of Jesus". Internet Infidels, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  205. Bromling, Brad (March 1995), "Jesus: Truly God and Truly Human", Apologetics Press :: Reason & Revelation 15[3]:  :17–20, 
  206. Allen, Grant (1897). The Evolution of the Idea of God. New York: Henry Holt. pp. 378–408.,M1. 
  207. Graves, Robert (1948). The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. United Kingdom: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 157–9. ISBN 0374504938. 
  208. Case, Shirley Jackson (1912). The Historicity of Jesus. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 148. 
  209. Saint Irenaeus Adversus Haereses online
  210. Ferguson, Everett [3] (1981, 3rd ed 2003). Backgrounds of Early Christianity. Eerdmans. ISBN 0802822215.,M1. 
  211. Jones, Peter (1992). The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back: An Old Heresy for the New Age. P & R Publishing. ISBN 0875522858. 
  212. Smith, Carl (2004). No Longer Jews. Hendrickson. ISBN 1565639448. 
  213. Turton, Michael (2002). "Review of James the Brother of Jesus by Robert Eisenman". Journal of Higher Criticism. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  214. The Truth at the Heart of 'The Da Vinci Code' Elaine Pagels San Jose Mercury News. online
  215. For example: His Gospel was presumably the collection of sayings in use among the Pauline churches of his day. Of course the patristic writers say that Marcion mutilated Luke's version; but it is almost impossible to believe that, if he did this, so keen a critic as Marcion should have retained certain verses which made against his strong anti-Judaistic views. G. R. S. Mead, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten [4]
  216. Urban, Linwood (1995). A Short History of Christian Thought (rev and expanded). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195093488. 
  217. Mack, Burton L. (1996). Who Wrote the New Testament?: The Making of the Christian Myth. San Francisco: HarperOne. ISBN 0060655186. 
  218. Carmichael, Joel (1992). The Birth of Christianity: Reality and Myth. Dorset Press. ISBN 0880297387. 
  219. Justin Martyr, First apology Ch 20-5
  220. C.S. Lewis, Miracle online discussion.


Further reading

External links

Websites arguing for the Jesus myth

Websites arguing for a historical Jesus

simple:Christ myth theory sv:Jesusmyten

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