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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:26 am 
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Don't look now but, new testament scholar Dr. James F. McGrath is taking on the mythicists. It started with this YouTube video
Code:
http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2008/10/did-jesus-exist-on-youtube.html

source:
Code:
http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/02/professor-mcgrath-on-whether-or-not.html

"Saturday, February 6, 2010
Mythicist Misunderstanding
I've long been perplexed by the frequent complaint from mythicists (i.e. those who claim that Jesus was a purely invented figure, not even based on a real historical human individual) that those working on the historical Jesus simply assume as a presupposition that Jesus existed, rather than addressing the question directly.

I think such individuals are looking for a demonstration by historians, in the introductory part of their book about Jesus, "proving" he existed, before going on to discuss anything he may have said or done. That this is what is meant seems clear because one may cite a saying or incident that is generally considered authentic, only to be met with the retort, "But how do you know he even existed?"

Such objections reflect a serious misunderstanding of the historical enterprise. I think it is safe to say that there is no historical figure from the past that we know existed apart from evidence for actual things he or she said or did. We know George Washington existed because he wrote documents, because he served as President of the United States, because he slept here or there. There is no such thing as proof of a historical person's existence in the abstract or at a theoretical level. There is simply evidence of activity, of speech, of things said or done, of interaction with others.

And so when historians engage in the tedious but ultimately rewarding process of sifting through the relatively early texts that mention Jesus, and painstakingly assess the arguments for the authenticity of a saying or incident, they are not "treating the existence of Jesus as a presupposition." They are providing the only sorts of evidence we can hope to have from a figure who wrote no books or letters, ruled no nations, and did none of the other things that could leave us more tangible forms evidence.


And so I will state once again what is obvious to historians and New Testament scholars but apparently unclear to some who are not entirely familiar with how historical investigation works. Historians are confident Jesus existed, first and foremost, because we have sayings attributed to him and stories about him that are more likely authentic than inauthentic. We have enough such material to place the matter beyond reasonable doubt in the minds of most experts in the field. And in order to deny that Jesus existed, one has to posit conspiracies and misunderstandings which, if one is willing to entertain such scenarios, could effectively be used to deny the existence of just about anyone in history. And even in the case of the most plausible mythicist scenario (not that they ever take the time to make a positive case for how the myth was invented and how it came to be misunderstood so quickly as being about a historical figure) we never get a scenario that is more probable than one that regards there as having been a real historical figure Jesus, however much he may have been obscured by later developments and dogmas.

And so, in short, the existence of Jesus is not something that can be proven in the abstract. This is simply stating the obvious, and is true of any historical figure. And the reason all mainstream historians and New Testament scholars believe Jesus existed? Because they have found at least one thing that he is purported to have said, or done, or had done to him, that seems very likely to be authentic. And if there is an authentic saying of Jesus, or action by him, or he was crucified, then he existed, because there is no such thing as an authentic historical action by a non-existent person."

source:
Code:
http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2010/02/mythicist-misunderstanding.html


"Monday, February 8, 2010
Discussion of Mythicism Spreads
The discussion of mythicism that has been taking place mostly here and at Vridar has now spread to at least two discussion boards: Think Atheist and the Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board.

I think I have enough to deal with in terms of the discussion here, but if any readers are members of either site, you may want to join in the discussions there.

All I'll say for now is that I encourage the atheists and freethinkers at these forums to live up to their principles and reputations. You rightly stand against pseudoscience in favor of mainstream science. Don't be easily duped into discarding mainstream scholarship in history because a few fringe folks have made a plausible sounding case that appeals to what you'd like to be true. You know better than that. Inform yourselves about rigorous mainstream scholarship in history just as you'd want creationists to do with the natural sciences. It's the right thing to do, and you know it. By all means, make up your own minds. But don't just listen to fringe views expressed on the internet and in self-published books. You know where that road leads, and have surely criticized others for following that path. I don't ask for any sort of special hearing for any particular viewpoint. I just ask you to be true to your principles!
"

source:
Code:
http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2010/02/discussion-of-mythicism-spreads.html


"Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Mythicism: Microexistence vs. Macroexistence?
Although I know some have found the comparison between Jesus mythicism and historicism offensive, it seems like the more time I spend thinking about this topic, the more similarities become apparent.

It seems to me that the claim of at least some mythicists that mainstream historians fail to address the existence of Jesus directly, much less prove it more probable than the mythicist scenario, is akin to the creationist objection that scientists have proven "microevolution" but not "macroevolution." They object, in essence, not to this or that piece of data, but to the connections drawn between them.

In the same way, mainstream historians seem to always come away from an examination of the early documents about Jesus persuaded that he did in fact do or have done to him, say or say something not entirely unlike, at least a few of the things claimed in those sources.

Once again I wish to make the point I made in another recent post. Non-existent individuals do not say things or do things. If even one saying of Jesus, or action by him, or something done to him such as the crucifixion, is clearly more likely to represent authentic historical information rather than something invented, then we have to posit a historical Jesus. It may or may not be that most of what was later claimed about him was invented. That isn't the issue - I don't know a mainstream historian or New Testament scholar who thinks Jesus said and did everything that the New Testament documents claim. The issue regarding mythicism is whether there was a Jesus at all, out of whom the later legends grew.

To make the case for mythicism as the best explanation of the evidence, you have to have it be the best explanation for all the material we have. With the exception of some religious conservatives who have made up their minds in advance, everyone in the fields of history and New Testament accepts that some of the material attributed to Jesus in the New Testament was invented. That isn't mythicism. Mythicism claims that it provides the best explanation for all the material, and if there were someone who had made that case, we would know about it. Mainstream scholars have written works that tackle every saying and event in the New Testament. I'm pretty sure that if a mythicist had produced such a voluminous work, it would have come up in the discussion by now. But if there is such a thing, please do let me know. If not, then it is obvious that mythicism hasn't adequately made its case, because like inerrancy, it doesn't work if it is only true of part of the material. If there is one error, then the Bible is not inerrant. If there is one piece of historical data about a real Jesus, then mythicism is wrong.

And so as New Testament scholars and other historians pay careful attention to specific details, we get accused in essence of proving "microexistence." But authentic material about Jesus leads naturally to an authentic Jesus. We may not know much about him. But I think it is at this point that we really get to the heart of what mythicism is. It seems to be an attempt to sidestep the hard work of sifting through the historical evidence for those nuggest of material that can be judged authentic with a high degree of certainty. And that is what distinguishes academic historical study from mythicism: an unwillingness to make an a priori judgment about a figure's existence rather than on the basis of a painstaking careful investigation of each piece of evidence.

Let me sum up and try to be succinct. Mythicism is a claim about all the available evidence, made by a group that has not (whether individually or collectively) provided a treatment of all the available evidence to support their claim."

source:
Code:
http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2010/02/mythicism-microexistence-vs.html


"Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Accusations and Assumptions: Another Mythicist-Creationist Parallel
Yet another parallel between creationism and mythicism...

CREATIONISM
Sean Carroll (or insert other scientist here) writes a book explaining his research into the way genes get put to new uses as part of the evolutionary process.
Creationists continue to say "Evolution is merely an assumption made by scientists, none of their work actually demonstrates that evolution has occurred."
Logical conclusion: The creationists in question have not read Carroll's book(s).

MYTHICISM
E. P. Sanders (or insert other New Testament scholar or historian here) writes a book explaining why he believes the temple incident reflects an actual historical event.
Mythicists continue to say "The historicity of Jesus is merely an assumption historians and scholars make, none of their work actually addresses whether Jesus existed.

Can we draw the same logical conclusion in the case of mythicists? I know Doherty cites a few scholars that agree with him. But one thing I have not yet seen (and since mythicism is found on blogs rather than in scholarly journals, I'm sure I can be excused if it is out there but I missed it) is a mythicist who engages a scholar like Sanders point by point and argues the case for drawing a different conclusion.

In my experience, scholarly research, whether in the natural sciences or the humanities, is typified by a detailed engagement with the published views of those one disagrees with. And the impression I get from the accusation that scholars have not addressed the existence of Jesus is that those making the accusation simply don't know the field.

It is true that sometimes an amateur will bring a freshness, an innocence, that will enable him or her to spot things that those working in the field missed. But far more frequently the reverse is true: the amateur draws conclusions that no one working in the field would draw because those working in the field are deeply familiar with relevant evidence that makes the amateur's conclusions implausible."

source:
Code:
http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2010/02/accusations-and-assumptions-another.html


"Wednesday, February 10, 2010
More Mythicist-Creationist Parallels
It seems like each step of the conversation uncovers more.

Mainstream scholars have published thousands of books and countless more peer-reviewed articles. I've created a web page/self-published a book. Therefore the burden of proof is on you to disprove my views.
If you've read Ken Ham/Robert Price/William Dembski and are not persuaded, you need to read Henry Morris/Earl Doherty/Michael Behe. How can you reject young-earth creationism/mythicism/intelligent design if you haven't even read all its proponents?
Biological evolution is not proven to the same degree of certainty as equations in physics/historical conclusions are less certain than ones in the natural sciences, therefore I don't actually have to address your evidence and arguments.

And of course there's the prooftexting. Anyone want to point out still others?"

source:
Code:
http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2010/02/more-mythicist-creationist-parallels.html


I was wondering if Acharya is aware of the above information?
Your comment(critique) would be welcomed. I suspect that in future discussion wether Jesus existed or not mythicists will be waived off and the comment made "oh their arguments are like those of creationist".
The internet can be a place where if irrational and unfounded comments are left unchallenged then it takes on the face of facts.Especially coming from a "Professional NT Scholar".


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:45 am 
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Dr. McGrath has no intention of ever taking the case for mythicism or the mythicist position seriously. He is a Christian who only intends to ridicule and make derogatory remarks about it, even though he and other NT scholars ARE mythicists when it comes to every other religion. Only when it comes to Jesus do they believe he existed without credible evidence.

That blog:
Quote:
"Let's bring out into the open the fact that it is not a requirement for NT PhD candidates to investigate the mythicist case. It is universally accepted that other religions deities such as the Egyptian, Indian, Greek, Roman and more are mythical, and there are scholars who specialize in them. Only when it comes to Jesus do scholars fall over themselves to claim he must have existed, all the while even Christian NT scholars can't agree on what credible evidence to base their beliefs on. The whole thing smells of an absurd double-standard rooted in cultural biases and prejudice.

The argument is often made that "no NT scholar with a PhD says that Jesus is a myth." In the first place, that generalization is false, as there certainly have been biblical scholars who have had the honesty to question whether or not Christ is myth. Secondly, it seems you cannot be a respected NT scholar unless you tow the Christian party line by at least accepting a historical Jesus a priori.

Attempting to compare mythicists with creationists only demonstrates that point. Academia should be thoroughly embarrassed by its utter ignorance of the profound arguments on the side of mythicism. But a serious inquiry into the case for mythicism is obviously against their own interests - as it has been for centuries.

Even though few scholars therefore know much about the mythicist position - and there is a HUGE body of literature on this subject - mythicism is heckled, ridiculed, smeared and distorted right out of the gate - and this is just by the NT scholars. From their writings, it is obvious that the bulk of NT scholars know next to nothing about this subject - this serious FIELD OF STUDY - and are thus not experts on it to be making any claims. HJers are apparently very afraid of the mythicist position, evidently because it so clearly reveals that their "historical Jesus" is made of straw.

The Mythicist Position

Evemerist vs. Mythicist Position

"There are two simple principles to keep in mind when it comes to the mythicist position:

"1. When the mythological layers of the story are removed, there is no core to the onion.

"2. A composite of 20 people is no one.

"Mythicism represents the perspective that many gods, goddesses and other heroes and legendary figures said to possess extraordinary and/or supernatural attributes are not “real people” but are in fact mythological characters. Along with this view comes the recognition that many of these figures personify or symbolize natural phenomena, such as the sun, moon, stars, planets, constellations, etc., constituting what is called "astromythology" or “astrotheology.” As a major example of the mythicist position, it is determined that various biblical characters such as Adam and Eve, Satan, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon and Jesus Christ, among other entities, in reality represent mythological figures along the same lines as the Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek, Roman and other godmen, who are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures."

- Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection by D.M. Murdock page 12

* Christ in Egypt: Reviewed by Dr. Robert M. Price

And again, in a later response:
Quote:
"James F. McGrath said...

"Vincent, I'm guessing you posted as a parody, right? You could replace "mythicists" with "creationists" in your post and it would sound very familiar:

Somehow, I knew you'd do that - it's an easy cop-out. From all your blogs on mythicism all it appears you have to offer is ridicule. You fail utterly at actually addressing the issues regarding the case for mythicism while covering up the house of cards holding up Christianity.

You're just another Christian who believes some Jewish guy is son of God, born of a virgin, walked on water, healed the blind & sick, raised the dead, was crucified on a cross and resurrected 3 days later, soon to return - without credible evidence to substantiate the claims. Christian NT scholars can't even agree on the so-called evidence for a historical Jesus.

You demonstrate why people like Doherty and others are correct about the severe lack of interest in the mythicist case by academia

"...there are very few sources for knowledge of the historical Jesus beyond the four canonical Gospels. Paul and Josephus offer little more than tidbits. Claims that later apocryphal Gospels and the Nag Hammadi material supply independent and reliable historical information about Jesus are largely fantasy. In the end, the historian is left with the difficult task of sifting through the Four Gospels for historical tradition."

- John P. Meier

- Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ (WWJ) page 86

"The Gospels are neither histories nor biographies, even within the ancient tolerances for those genres."

- Dr. John Dominic Crossan

- WWJ (24)

I'm sure you'll come up with another non-response to this post too. Objectivity on the mythicist case will never come from this blog as it avoids it like the plague."

Still, keep us posted here in this thread on what's going on over there regarding the subject concerning the mythicist position, natselection. Thanks for the heads up.

I feel that I need to reiterate the gist of this issue: This professor's questions - which he and others apparently feel are brilliant and insightful - in reality reveal that he knows very little about the case for mythicism and the mythicist position. People just need to understand that he is not an expert on the subject of mythicism. Although he may appear to ask valid questions at times, he does so in a way that indicates he thinks they've never been asked before. Obviously, they have been, demonstrating his ignorance of the subject, and we and others have answered them many times before because we have actually studied the subject for many years.

If one is really serious about answering these questions regarding whether or not Jesus Christ was a historical or mythical figure, one will never find the answers by narrowly focusing their studies on the New Testament alone. Some more honest NT scholars who are also professed Christians even admit as much (See, Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ). One simply must include the milieu of the time in their studies, including and especially many other religions around the Mediterranean and their history. Being ignorant of the massive research within the mythicist field dating back centuries does not make one an expert on mythicism.

Since McGrath is no authority on mythicism in any way shape of form, as is revealed by his commentary on the subject, his opinions on this matter are obviously not to be taken seriously at all.

_________________
Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver
Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection
2014 Astrotheology Calendar
The Mythicist Position
Stellar House Publishing at Youtube


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 Post subject: Jesus crucified?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:17 pm 
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Quote:
The Death of the Mythical Messiah

"The real question for me is why, when we know that crucifixion was a Roman method of execution, and those authors who later provided narratives understood Jesus to have been crucified by the Romans, and no author explicitly locates the crucifixion anywhere other than on earth, why are some nevertheless persuaded not only that other interpretations of this material are possible (lots of things are possible), but that a mythicist interpretation is more probable than a historicist one? If you are fully persuaded that the earliest Christians thought Jesus was executed somewhere other than on earth, where do you think it happened, and what leads you to draw that conclusion? "

exploringourmatrix. blogspot. com/2010/02/death-of-mythical-messiah. html

Thanks for that perfect example of demonstrating how New Testament scholars are not all that familiar with comparative religion. They are narrowly focused on the NT. They are not Egyptologists, obviously. How are they ever to know where so many of these concepts originated if they aren't even looking? The creators of Christianity BORROWED many concepts from ancient Egyptian myths and tried to place Jesus into a more historical framework.

Was Horus "Crucified?"

But don't expect an NT scholar to be familiar with any of this type of comparative religion history.




natselection, feel free to post this in that blog.

Also, be sure to steer them to this thread of Acharya's:

Cruciforms/Gods on Crosses

As we can see from the many images in that thread, the motif of a god on a cross existed long before the Christian era, so, as Acharya says, it's really just a derivative mythical motif. It is obvious that McGrath knows next to nothing about this subject of gods on crosses or other relevant aspects of mythology. He's not a mythologist, and he thus has pretty much no context in which to examine these subjects.

Because McGrath and other NT scholars are oblivious to this massive body of research, their ignorance has marginalized mythicism, making it "fringe." So, a whole study becomes "fringe" because of ignorance. Yet, the Christian scholars are mythicists when it comes to all other religions - does McGrath believe Hercules or Osiris were "real people?" No, he would not hesitate to laugh at anybody who tried to make that claim, but when it comes to unfounded Christian claims, no problem just believing them - and no problem ridiculing those who apply the same scientific principles to Christianity as to the Greek myths.

If McGrath wants to actually know about the mythicist position, he needs to read Acharya's multiple volumes on the subject. Otherwise, he will remain a non-expert. But he provides a perfect example of why mythicism has been marginalized - out of ignorance - so this discussion is very welcome. This ignorance within academia perfectly exemplifies the reason why this subject has been swept aside over the centuries.

_________________
Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver
Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection
2014 Astrotheology Calendar
The Mythicist Position
Stellar House Publishing at Youtube


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:17 pm 
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Thanks Freethinka,
Even the responses from the first blog quoted we see people spotting the "christian apologist in NT scholar clothing":

"Jason said...

I just think "New Testament" and "History" don't belong in the same sentence"

"Dan said...

I just don't understand how the bible...the only place where Jesus is ever mentioned or his life and statements are ever described...a book chock full of myths, contradictions, mistakes, and outright lies...can be considered a reliable historical document.

Are there any other figures in history whom historians believe probably existed where:

1) The only evidence of their existence is a single account in an extremely unreliable and contradictory religious text written over the course of centuries many decades after the alleged events contained within it took place.

2) There are no corroborating accounts of that person's existence by contemporary writers or historians.

I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Why do apologists always insist on making an exception for Jesus, and insisting that those who doubt his existence are believers in "conspiracies"? I think a much bigger conspiracy would be required for all of the historians of the ancient world to completely overlook and never mention a word about what would be, if true, the most important event in human history (Jesus' life, death, and resurrection)."

"Dan said...

Not to get too far off topic, but one thing we can say with nearly 100% certainty, is that Adam and Eve did not exist. Thanks to the convergent findings of countless scientific disciplines, we have a deep understanding of the history of the Earth and the history of life on Earth. Because of this we can reasonably have as much certainty in the fact of Adam and Eve's non-existence as we can in the fact of the Tooth Fairy's non-existence.

When you accept this fact, you logically must also accept that the Genesis account is a myth, and there was no "fall". Eve never ate the apple because she, Adam, and the Garden of Eden never existed. Therefore there is no "original sin" (original sin is a ridiculous concept in and of itself, but I've already gotten off topic).

If there is no original sin, then there is no need for redemption by blood sacrifice; There is no need for Jesus' crucifixion. There is no need for Jesus period.

So, since we know with as much certainty as we can know anything that Adam and Eve never ate the apple and therefore there was no original sin and therefore no need for the crucifixion, the real question becomes:

Q: Does it matter, in anything other than an academic historical sense, if a historical Jesus existed or not?

A: Not really."

Added to all of this, I think its been mentined elsewhere that many persons with the name "Jesus" existed - lol
If the claim that the Jesus as recorded in the NT existed then all other similar figures existed(Horus,Osiris,Zeus etc)


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:25 am 
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Speaking of old dodges this one is a mainstay of politics. He is against the war in Vietnam. Communists are against the war. Let me tell you about communists. Pick your generation, your issue and list the examples.

He asks for the evidence Jesus really existed. People like him are called mythicists. Let me tell you about mythicists.

This not only avoids producing evidence but allows the silliest invented stories of what mythicists are like and all kinds of imagined things they have said. Before the story is finished you will wonder how mythicists can exist because they are so silly and evil and hopefully not notice there was no evidence for Jesus presented.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:03 am 
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Exactly.

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The Jesus Mythicist Creed:
The "Jesus Christ" of the New Testament is a fictional composite of characters, real and mythical. A composite of multiple "people" is no one.

ZG Part 1
Jesus: Hebrew Human or Mythical Messiah?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 6:38 pm 
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Here are a couple new blogs from NT scholar James McGrath

Not All Atheists Are Mythicists
Feb 18, 2010
exploringourmatrix. blogspot. com /2010/02/not-all-atheists-are-mythicists. html

Is There Evidence For Mythicism?
Feb 19, 2010
exploringourmatrix. blogspot. com /2010/02/is-there-evidence-for-mythicism. html

Mythicism and John the Baptist
exploringourmatrix. blogspot. com/2010/02/mythicism-and-john-baptist. html

-----------

The Evidence for Mythicism

First of all, New Testament scholars have no problem accepting that Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek, Roman and other godmen, are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures. So, they're all mythicists EXCEPT when it comes to Jesus. And where's the evidence for Adam and Eve, Satan, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon as well? Christians have failed in their responsibility for providing the burden of proof. Here we are 2,000 years later and nothing has changed in that regard.

Lack of historical evidence

The evidence for a mythical Jesus begins with the Bible itself. There is no credible contemporary evidence for Jesus. What is held up as evidence is flimsy and problematic at best. Biblical and NT scholars who are also professed Christians can't even agree on evidence for Jesus. We still have no credible evidence that Mark, Matthew, Luke & John wrote the Gospels. The literary and historical evidence points to a late 2nd century creation. Justin the Martyr knew nothing about the four Gospels by those four characters in 150.

Previous mythical motifs

NT scholars fail to factor in comparative religion pre-Christian parallels and concepts that have been borrowed such as Dying and Rising Gods motifs. And they fail utterly to factor in the astrotheological aspects. They're not taking into consideration the pre-historical origins of religious concepts based in natural phenomena which have evolved over time, starting out as mythology in order to pass vital survival information onto future generations. This vital knowledge included agriculture, taking into account the movements of the sun and moon for best results in planting and harvesting, for example. Which also included the ability to create a calendar based on solstices and equinoxes i.e. Stonehenge or Germany's 7,000 year old Temple of the Sun, and countless others from around the globe.

Physical evidence

Other disciplines involved in the study of mythicism are archaeology, obviously, as well as archaeoastronomy and linguistics. All around the world we find astronomically aligned structures &/or buildings that also serve religious functions. These structures and their alignments tell a story, the elements of which are basically the mythical motifs we find in the gospel story and elsewhere. There are many other physical artifacts that reveal the pre-Christian and mythical motifs that found their way into the New Testament and other Christian texts, as well as iconography. In this regard, these disciplines show a massive amount of evidence for the mythicist position - and you can find much of it in Acharya's books.

I'd be interested to see NT scholarship step up to the plate to address the works not only of Doherty and Dr. Price but also that of Acharya S/Murdock. She has done the work NT scholars clearly have not. Acharya S/Murdock has written several books totaling nearly 3,000 pages of material including over 7,456 footnotes/citations to primary sources and the works of highly credentialed and respected authorities in relevant fields of study from a wide variety of backgrounds, including many Christian scholars, adding up to over 2,314 bibliographical sources. Her books also include 456+ images thus far. She works hard to substantiate her claims with credible evidence and sources specifically due to the fact that this subject is so contentious.

The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Acharya S (Jul 1, 1999)
Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled by Acharya S (Sep 1, 2004)
Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ by D.M. Murdock, Acharya S (Nov 28, 2007)
Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S (Feb 28, 2009)
The Gospel According to Acharya S (2009)
Man Made God: A Collection of Essays by Barbara G. Walker (2010)
Anahita: Ancient Persian Goddess and Zoroastrian Yazata (2013)
Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman s Did Jesus Exist? (2013)
Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S (2014)

The fact remains that there is no requirement in NT scholarship to investigate the case for mythicism in order to get their PhD, even though the mythicist school dates back centuries and has yielded a tremendous volume of literature highly germane to New Testament studies. It may thus be a case where NT scholars are too narrowly focused on the NT but refuse to factor in pre-Christian parallels. How can we expect to find out whether or not Jesus was historical or mythical by only looking at the NT? We can't, and at this point expecting those answers to come from NT scholarship will always leave much to be desired for those who are interested in the much larger historical picture that must be taken into account.

Conclusion

It really looks like the "Occam's Razor" answer here is that the creators of Christianity borrowed from Paganism and Judaism, making several attempts at placing a mythical, pre-Christian savior godman into a historical framework. This effort to combine Judaism and Paganism eventually served as a political power-move by Constantine to unite the Roman Empire under one state religion. At the end of the day, there is no reason to believe Jesus is any more historical than Hercules.

The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ

Jesus as the Sun throughout History

Astrotheology of the Ancients

Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection

The Mythicist Position

ZEITGEIST Part 1 & The Supportive Evidence

NT scholar James McGrath may take an interest in this thread too - Religion and the PhD: A Brief History In case anybody wants to post it over there. I don't feel like beating a dead horse.

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Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver
Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection
2014 Astrotheology Calendar
The Mythicist Position
Stellar House Publishing at Youtube


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:10 pm 
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The latest blog by Dr. McGrath

Mythunderstanding The Criteria Of Authenticity
Code:
http://www.exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2010/02/mythunderstanding-criteria-of.html

Here is a response blog:

Ten myths about mythicist arguments, as advanced by James McGrath
Code:
http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/ten-myths-about-mythicist-argumentsm-as-advanced-by-james-mcgrath/

10 myths + 4
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http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010/02/22/10-myths-1/

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 11:18 am 
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Pot calling the kettle black if you ask me. They don't dig to deep into their history do they?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 1:08 pm 
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Quote:
Pot calling the kettle black if you ask me. They don't dig to deep into their history do they?

No, they do not and they know very little about the case for the mythicist position. So, they honestly have very little to offer don't they? Why should we waste our time listening to them when they seem to know so little, even though they are supposedly well educated on these issues? It just demonstrates the severe disappointment of academia regarding these issues. It appears that going to a high dollar university these days for NT studies isn't much different from going to Sunday school :shock:

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:25 pm 
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Shoot! I just wish I could remember half of what I've read I would be in good shape.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:53 pm 
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The latest from NT scholar Dr. James F. McGrath

Real Jesus Challenge LOL
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http://exploringourmatrix.blogspot.com/2010/08/real-jesus-challenge-lol.html

"A reply to Bart Ehrman on Nazareth, and the Real Jesus Challenge award" by René Salm

The Real Jesus Challenge

"I think it is historically virtually certain that Jesus existed."
— Dr. Bart D. Ehrman

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:18 am 
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From patheos. com /community/exploringourmatrix/2011/07/19/review-of-earl-dohertys-jesus-neither-god-nor-man-chapter-9/

jeffreyspm
"The contrast with Jesus is stunning, lots of near contemporaneous records, claims in terms of style to historical biographies of a recognisable type, coherence with social, cultural and historical data of the period. And, yes, the detail in the Gospels themselves presents itself as with an eye witness quality. Not to say that the stories have not been told and retold many times before committing to writing. This is why historians find the attitudes of mythicists as frankly ludicrous. "

Robert Tulip
Well, no. There is no definitive evidence of the existence of the Gospels in the first century, putting them far too late to be more than hearsay for a historizing fictional agenda. Philo, who should have heard of Jesus had he existed, does not mention him. The mentions by Josephus are late frauds. The mythicist argument is the only scientific explanation of the rise of Christianity, explaining all the evidence, and its exclusion is simply a matter of group think by academics.

James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
This is why it is so important to highlight the similarities between mythicism and creationism. The last comment by Robert Tulip would sound appealing to someone who didn't know anything about the field - the desire to be scientific is a good thing. But what you miss if you don't investigate further is that Philo lived in Alexandria in Egypt, and so there is no particular reason for him to have heard of Jesus, unless Christians came there talking about him, which still would not be first-hand information. One mention by Josephus clearly has been tampered with, but probably is not a whole cloth addition, and the second mention could still be authentic even if the Testimonium Flavianum is not. And the lack of "definitive evidence" for the existence of the Gospels in the first century does not mean that it is plausible to posit that they were first composed in the second century, and fails to mention that our copies of the Gospels are much closer in time to when they are believed to have been composed than most other texts that historians work with from the ancient world.

Lots of people present their view as offering a "scientific approach" and so it is crucial to look at a person's method and not simply the marketing claims for their view. In this case, what could sound scholarly to someone without a background in the field is clearly exposed as bunk with just a little investigation. Just like creationism.

Robert Tulip
Creationism is abundantly refuted by science. The hypothesis that Jesus Christ is a myth is scientific. This is a basic difference.

The hypothesis that Jesus Christ did not exist as a historical individual is the most plausible explanation for the production of the Gospels. Daniel's prophecy of the anointed one (9.26) led to the Essene claim that this prediction would be fulfilled in 27 AD, as the long awaited messiah. So the starting point for Christian ideation was the idea of Christ. The historical Jesus appears to have been invented much later through a process of 'Chinese Whispers'.

Just as King Josiah filled in the details of David and Solomon to justify his temporal ambitions (cf Kings, Deuteronomy), the Gospel authors took the spiritual Christ described in Paul and other writings and filled in the details to produce a believable literal history, suitable to mobilize a mass movement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... explains that Philo was a prominent leader of the Jewish community in Alexandria at the alleged time of Christ, and evidently visited Jerusalem. He is also a prime source of the Logos theology in the Gospel of John, describing the Logos as God's blueprint for the world. It simply beggars belief that Philo never mentions Jesus Christ, given his abundant writings on topics at the center of Christian theology, unless there is something fraudulent in the Christian texts. If Christ was a public figure as described in the Gospels, the complete absence of mention of him by reputable independent sources for a century after his supposed life is incredible. It is as if some one today wrote an account of a person allegedly living during the second world war based only on hearsay and expected people to believe it as history, with no corroborating evidence.

The real link to creationists here is among the apologists, who cannot bear the psychological trauma of seeing their beloved dogma exposed as the biggest lie in history.

James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
@Robert Tulip, if the approach you advocate is scientific, then surely you will not mind me asking for some evidence.

First, where did the Essenes predict that Daniel's prophecy would be fulfilled in 27 AD?

Next, why do you claim that Paul's Jesus was purely spiritual when Paul mentions his having been born, of Davidic descent, having a brother, bleeding, and dying by crucifixion?

Third, what makes it seem plausible that within not more than a hundred years someone would take a purely spiritual savior, concoct stories about that person appearing in history, and persuade people of their religion to believe this so effectively that no one who knew of the original purely spiritual savior version seems to have been around?

Fourth, if being a public figure merited mention by Philo, then why is Philo silent about teachers and other public figures of that sort from this period whose existence is often considered plausible or even probable based on other sources?

Finally, why do you seem unwilling to consider the mainstream historian's approach and conclusions, namely that there are indeed things that are fabricated in the Gospels, but that not everything is fabricated? If you think history works like the natural sciences, you are badly mistaken. But even in terms of what historical study can offer, you seem completely uninterested in it, preferring to discuss the matter in the apologist's all-or-nothing manner. If your approach is scientific, then why is that?

Robert Tulip
Thank you James. The Docetic Gnostics were a prominent early Christian group who held that that Jesus' physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...

The triumph of orthodoxy over the Docetic view was primarily a matter of numbers, that a simplified historical salvation myth was accessible for the general public, whereas a complex spiritual vision involved use of allegory that required a high level of education to understand. Therefore, Church Fathers whose main objective was church expansion were those who aligned their views to the literal story with its potential for political influence. They were easily able to isolate and suppress the views of their opponents. The attack at 2 John 1.7 on 'deceivers' illustrates that such doubts about the historical Christ were widespread, and also provides a foretaste of the methods the church later used to suppress unbelievers.

On Paul, Professor Elaine Pagels of Princeton University argued in her 1975 book The Gnostic Paul that the authentic epistles operate at two levels, a spiritual level for initiates and a simplified level for the general public. So I would not say Paul's Jesus is "purely" spiritual, rather that it is primarily spiritual, with the few material references intended as allegory. Against the few mentions of a bodily Jesus, we find that none of the tales in the Gospels except the Last Supper and the cross are mentioned, with no detail, leaving open the strong probability that Paul knew nothing of Jesus of Nazareth, but primarily wrote for a spiritual audience, adding the occasional physical references to generate broader interest by claiming he was talking about real events. The absence of detail in these physical references suggest they may have been hearsay, or a misunderstanding on Paul's part of an original spiritual or cosmic message. They are seized on by the church to justify the gospel message, but are so scanty, and lacking in any corroboration, that it makes more sense to read Paul as a waystation between an originally spiritual messianism and the eventual literal story of the gospels. It is worth noting that Paul's suggestion of Davidic descent in Romans 1 directly contradicts the virgin birth myth.

My source on the Essenes' use of Daniel is The Jews Against Rome by Susan Sorek of Lampeter University. I mentioned it primarily to illustrate that the messianic yearning of the times was a decisive factor in the construction of the Christ myth. The theory that Daniel predicted the time of Christ using the day-year principle was propounded by Isaac Newton, but I do not know of ancient references other than Sorek's claim.

On Philo, it is not just that Christ as a public figure should have been mentioned by anyone outside the charmed circle of Christian propaganda if he existed. Philo wrote extensively on the theme of the word or Logos, and is arguably the real source of this idea in John. Philo was a main advocate for the Jews to Rome, and died in 50 AD, some twenty years after the claimed date of the death of Christ. If a Christian community was really active as described in Acts, it really is extremely surprising that this messianic advocacy went unnoticed by Philo, given his keen interest in related topics, and the extensive communication between Alexandria's big Jewish community and Israel, unless of course these claimed historical events did not occur and were invented later.

I question mainstream Christian history simply because it is far more plausible that the causality of Christian origins went from Christ to Jesus, not from Jesus to Christ, in view of the abundant continuities between Christian doctrine and earlier mythology. The Christian record of censorship, especially the wholesale destruction of Pagan documents, raises the question of what they had to hide.

James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
Thank you, Robert. The Docetists we know of from actual ancient texts took the beliefs that other Christians had, about a Jesus who appeared in history, and denied that that Jesus was a fully flesh-and-blood human. It is not evidence that anyone everr thought of Jesus Christ as a purely celestial figure. You seem to have been listening to mythicists who ignore such important evidence as the fact that the expectation of the kind of anointed one (Christ/Messiah) that Christians claimed Jesus was, that of the line of David, was expected to be a human figure, because the whole concept was the restoration of the kingship to the line of David. Nor do we have evidence of Jews naming purely celestial saviors with mundane Jewish names like Jesus (which is simply an English way of rendering the form of the name Joshua used in the Gospels).

I assume that since you do not have any evidence for it and will accept that Isaac Newton is not prior to the composition of the Gospels, the claim about what pre-Christian Essenes believed is being dropped.

You talk about what is more plausible, but for an approach to be in any sense "scientific," surely it must taken the relevant evidence into account, don't you think? Once one has a preconceived theory, and is determined to adhere to it, there is rarely any evidence that cannot be made to fit somehow. And so I would encourage you to work inductively from the source material about early Christianity and its context as the appropriate way to answer historical questions.

James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
@Robert, I meant to mention in my previous comment that you are absolutely right that Paul's statement about Jesus being of Davidic descent is indeed incompatible with the later development of the idea that Jesus was conceived without a human father. But what needs to be added is that it moves away from later dogma in the direction of Jeaus being an ordinary human being, not in the direction of his being an exalted, miraculous, celestial entity.

beallen0417
Just to be clear, under this argument, is it put forward that Paul does not describe an exalted celestial entity?

Robert Tulip
On the Essenes, my source for their views on the date of the messiah was a scholarly history of the Jewish War as mentioned. I will contact the author Susan Sorek to find her source for ancient existence of the 26 AD prediction from Daniel as her text is not footnoted.

If Jesus was not flesh and blood, then he was celestial. This is the direct implication of the attack in 2 John - "many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world." If Jesus Christ has come as not flesh, but as spirit, it suggests a celestial mythological identity. This primary celestial exalted vision accords with the visions of Jesus Christ as 'the same yesterday, today and forever', 'before Abraham was, I am', 'I and the Father are one', 'I am the alpha and omega'. Similarly the cosmic hymns in Colossians 1 and Philippians 2.

The scientific question then becomes how the ancients formulated this celestial messianic vision. My opinion is that Christianity was originally primarily astrotheological, using the Hermetic principle "as above so below", reformulated as "thy will be done on earth as in heaven," to produce a mythology of earthly events reflecting the slow cycle of the stars. The main candidate for this astronomical basis is precession of the equinox, seeing Christ as the mythic avatar of the Age of Pisces. This vision was too complex for a mass movement and was condemned and suppressed as heretical (Docetist), leaving only concealed traces such as the miracle of the loaves and fishes. This miracle appears six times in the Gospels, more than any other. It makes complete sense as allegory for the shifting position of the sun and moon against the stars at Easter, as the equinoxes precessed into Pisces (fish) and Virgo (loaves), as a symbol of miraculous creative abundance.

Theological scholarship on astrotheology remains in its infancy, other than in works by Carl Jung such as Aion and Answer to Job. The orthodox view that this interpretation is heretical remains a major obstacle to rigorous research. However, the cosmic theology accords far better with the evidence than the literal historical story of tradition.

James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
What you think makes complete sense doesn't fit well with the evidence. The earliest sources clearly have a human figure in view, to which increasingly exalted heavenly roles eventually get attributed. As one traces that trajectory, the divination of Jesus eventually results in denial of Jesus' real humanity, because of the difficulty of having suffering and deity coincide. That is exactly what 2 John 1:7, from late in the NT period, has in view: not people who deny that Jesus Christ ever appeared in human history, but people who deny that he came in flesh.

Your view fits poorly with the evidence. The fact that you couch it in the language of New Age mumbo jumbo does not make it seem more scholarly, to say nothing of scientific.

Robert Tulip
JM: “The earliest sources clearly have a human figure in view, to which increasingly exalted heavenly roles eventually get attributed.”In fact the process was the reverse. The New Testament gives a naïve reader the impression the Gospels preceded the Epistles, whereas the genuine Pauline letters are the earliest texts. The human Jesus of the gospels, with the miracles, parables, family story, etc, is basically absent from Paul, for whom Christ performs a primarily mythic and symbolic role as mediator and redeemer.JM: “As one traces that trajectory, the divination of Jesus eventually results in denial of Jesus' real humanity, because of the difficulty of having suffering and deity coincide. That is exactly what 2 John 1:7, from late in the NT period, has in view: not people who deny that Jesus Christ ever appeared in human history, but people who deny that he came in flesh.” It is far more plausible, as Doherty argues, that Docetic thinkers understood Christ as a myth from the start. The concept of a historical but non-fleshly messiah is contradictory, and simply shows that orthodox detractors of the Docetists distorted their views and failed to understand them. The only way Christ could have "come into the world" without being flesh and blood was as the symbolic basis of a universal cosmic vision specifically pointing to the actual time of Christ. This is precisely what we see with precession of the equinox at the time of Christ, with the shift of the spring equinox point, the alpha and omega of the Jewish calendar, from the constellation of Aries into the constellation of Pisces. JM: “The fact that you couch it in the language of New Age mumbo jumbo does not make it seem more scholarly, to say nothing of scientific.”In fact, precession was known well in ancient times, and is a purely scientific observation. Sir Norman Lockyer, founder of the prestigious scientific journal Nature, argued that alignments of Egyptian temples indicate a clear knowledge of precession well before the time of Christ. There is no need to introduce any “mumbo jumbo” to defend the hypothesis that observation of the slow sweep of the stars due to precession was an organizing principle for ancient mythology, including Christianity. We do not need any astrological speculation to see that this is a simple matter of long term observation. I discuss this in more detail, including showing how the years around 20 AD mark a clear moment of observed shift, at http://www.bautforum.com/showt...

James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
Robert, Doherty's views are not persuasive, and what you are talking about may be something that you can read into New Testament texts, the way Christian believers often read their dogmas into them, but they are not what one actually finds in them. In calling your views "scientific" I think you may be confusing astrology with astronomy.

Robert Tulip
A problem with the mythicist debate is that conventional theology has many deep-seated assumptions, such as the assumption that any effort to see stellar allegory in the Bible, e.g. between the twelve apostles and the twelve signs of the zodiac, or between Jesus and the sun, is the first step on a slippery slope to irrational astrological fatalism.

In fact, precession of the equinox is purely astronomical, and requires no astrological assumptions to understand. It is an entirely legitimate scientific and historical hypothesis that the authors of the New Testament developed a symbolic mythology from observation of the slow shift of the stars, with Christ as the Alpha and Omega reflecting on earth the observed shift from one Age to the next in the zodiac.

Perhaps Roman Emperor Hadrian was telling the truth when he said after a visit to Alexandria that “there is no Christian leader who is not an astrologer, a soothsayer, or a master of wrestlers.” (Letter to Servianus, 134 AD)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:22 pm 
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Dr McGrath has an article in Christian Century: christiancentury. org /article/2011-10/fringe-view

Here is an extract

McGrath wrote:
Fringe view
The world of Jesus mythicism
Nov 07, 2011 by James F. McGrath

"... Jesus mythicists have a substantial web presence, and their views have been promoted in films such as Religulous and Zeitgeist.

It might seem best to ignore such fringe claims. But as we know from debates over evolution and other subjects, views that no expert finds persuasive can still have an impact on public discourse, education and much else.

As a group, the Jesus mythicists can seem like a strange mirror of the state of scholarly thinking on Jesus: the only thing they agree on is Jesus' nonexistence. Yet a few major trends are discernible.

One popular strand of mythicist thinking, associated with D. M. Mur­dock (and her pseudonym Acharya S), maintains that Jesus was invented on the basis of earlier deities, astrological entities and myths—in particular the ancient myths about dying and rising fertility gods. A viewpoint of this sort once had some currency among scholars, and in the 19th and early 20th centuries many people were attracted to the idea that Christianity owed much to non-Jewish religious figures and ideas. But along with acquiring more sensitivity to anti-Semitism, scholars encountered evidence for the diversity of first-century Judaism and were able to trace elements of Christianity to various Jewish sources—and so they discarded views similar to those now promoted by Murdock and other mythicists...."


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