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A Response to the Jesus Myth DID JESUS EXIST?. Origins of the Christ Myth Bruno Bauer (1809-1882) -earliest writer to definitely claim that Jesus never.

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Presentation on theme: "A Response to the Jesus Myth DID JESUS EXIST?. Origins of the Christ Myth Bruno Bauer (1809-1882) -earliest writer to definitely claim that Jesus never."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Response to the Jesus Myth DID JESUS EXIST?

2 Origins of the Christ Myth Bruno Bauer ( ) -earliest writer to definitely claim that Jesus never existed -a German theologian -story of Jesus invented by Mark, convinced everyone else of his Gospel’s authenticity -had little impact on mainstream scholarship Arthur Drews ( ) -professor of philosophy, The Christ Myth (1911) -based his work on “history of religions school” represented by James Frazer’s The Golden Bough

3 Origins of the Christ Myth (cont’d) John M. Robertson ( ) -Britain’s most important early mythicist -self-taught journalist -The Jesus Problem (1917), Jesus a development of some sort of pre-Christian myth William B. Smith ( ) -American mathematician -The Birth of the Gospel (1957), Christianity was a product of the Jewish Diaspora

4 Origins of the Christ Myth (cont’d) Early generation of Christ Mythologists died out in the 1920s, basing their work on the “history of religions school” that had abandoned its thesis. The Christ Myth reaches rock bottom in 1968 with the publication of The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross by John Allegro Publication of this work destroyed Allegro’s academic reputation overnight

5 Origins of the Christ Myth (cont’d) G. A. Wells Brought the Christ Myth thesis back to life in 1971.

6 Origins of the Christ Myth (cont’d) G. A. Wells -Emeritus Professor of German at University of London -used German to read works of Drew, Bauer, others -result was a restatement of early 20 th century arguments of Christ Mythers

7 Origins of the Christ Myth (cont’d) The Evolving Wells 1971 – Jesus developed from pagan parallels 1975 – adaptation of most radical points of scholars 1982 – dumped parallels in favor of Jewish myth 1986 – Jesus actually lived in 100 BC 1990s – dropped the Christ myth altogether 2000s – accepts that Paul knew Jesus was crucified by Romans

8 Contemporary Mythicists Earl Doherty -Notable mythicist -The Jesus Puzzle (1999) Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy -The Jesus Mysteries (1999) -Pagan parallels -PhD in theology and PhD in New Testament studies -Deconstructing Jesus (2000) Robert M. Price

9 Thesis: Jesus Christ never existed as a historical figure, but is a myth created by the early Christian community. Two Major Claims of Mythicists: 1.No early sources documenting the life of Christ 2.Early Christians borrowed from pagan mystery religions to invent the Christ figure

10 Chester Beatty Papyri -contains most of the NT -dates to AD 250. EXTANT manuscripts

11 Bodmer Papyri -contains most of John -dates to AD 200. EXTANT manuscripts

12 Contains a fragment of John 18:31-33, Dates between AD John Rylands fragment Found in Egypt

13 -Papias (70-163) - all four gospels -Justin Martyr ( ) – four gospels, 11 NT texts -Polycarp (c. 110) - four gospels, most Paul’s -Ignatius (c. 107) – 24 books of NT -Clement (c. 95) – 11 books of the NT Church fathers of early second century are familiar with the Apostles writings and quoting them pushing the NT books into the first century: Early Church Fathers

14 FOCUS OF LUKE/ACTS: JERUSALEM The focus of Luke’s writing is the city of Jerusalem (Acts 1.8) Jerusalem is obviously the center point of Luke’s writing Destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD)

15 Matthew and Luke 70 AD Fall of Jerusalem and Temple Mark Acts Some of Paul’s writings “DATE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT” WHY THE NEW TESTAMENT CAN BE DATED IN THE 1ST CENTURY

16 -Besides the 27 New Testament sources all written in the first century (the century Christ lived) that verify that Jesus existed, how many non-Christian sources are there that mention Jesus? -Ten. There are ten known non-Christian writers who mention Jesus within 150 years of his life. -By contrast, over the same 150 years, there are only nine non- Christian sources who mention Tiberius Caesar, the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus. -Jesus is actually mentioned in non-Christian sources more than a Roman emperor. If you include the Christian sources, authors mentioning Jesus outnumber those mentioning Tiberius 43 to 10

17 Life of Christ Borrowed from Pagan Religions Many Jesus Mythicists claim that Christianity’s beliefs about Jesus were copied from pagan religions: Brain Flemming’s documentary The God Who Wasn’t There, Robert Price’s Deconstructing Jesus, T. Freke and P. Gandy’s The Jesus Mysteries, Tom Harpur The Pagan Christ, and the internet documentary Zeitgeist

18 Life of Christ Borrowed from Pagan Religions “Background” -In the academic world, these comparisons of Jesus to pagan religious figures were promoted by a group of scholars called the Religionsgeschichtliche schule or the so-called “History of Religions School.” -The “History of Religions School” flourished at the end of the nineteenth and into the early twentieth century. -It included scholars such as Richard Reitzenstein, Sir James Frazer, and Albert Schweitzer. -The “History of Religions School” claimed that primitive Christianity had been influenced by Platonism, Stoicism, the pagan mystery religions, and other Greco-Roman movements. -By the mid-20 th century this school of thought had been abandoned by the academic community.

19 -Why did the “History of Religions School” abandon the claim that Christianity borrowed from pagan religions? TIMING -For example, Mithras was a Persian god who was attested as early as the fourteenth century BC. -The problem is there is no evidence of Mithraism in the sense of a mystery religion in the West until very late. The vast majority of texts about Mithra date after AD 140, to late to influence Christianity. -Manfred Clauss, professor of ancient history at Free Univ. of Berlin claimed in The Roman Cult of Mithras that it doesn’t make sense to interpret the Mithraic mysteries “as a fore-runner of Christianity.” -L. Patterson, in his book Mithraism and Christianity (Cambridge Univ. Press) concludes there is“no direct connection between the two religions either in origin or development.” Life of Christ Borrowed from Pagan Religions

20 “Its All About Timing” The chronology is all wrong. While some of the mystery religions pre-dated Christianity, there is near universal agreement that there are no stories of dying and rising gods until after Christianity Since the supposed parallels between Christianity and the pagan religions arose only after the origin of the church, the pagan religions could not have influenced Christian beliefs. T. N. D. Mettinger – a senior Swedish scholar, professor at Lund University, and a member of the Royal Academy of Letters, History, & Antiquities of Stockholm – wrote one of the most recent academic treatments of dying and rising gods in antiquity: The Riddle of the Resurrection “There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on the myths and rites of the dying and rising gods of the surrounding world.” (Mettinger, 221) Life of Christ Borrowed from Pagan Religions

21 -Ronald Nash in The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought? summarizes the eight weaknesses in the critics’ claim that Christianity was derived from the pagan religions: 1) Similarity does not prove dependence 2) The alleged similarities are greatly exaggerated or invented 3) The chronology is all wrong: Christianity existed in 1 st century, while the full development of pagan mystery 1 st century, while the full development of pagan mystery religions did not appear until the second century religions did not appear until the second century 4) Paul wouldn’t borrow from pagan religions being a devout Jew 5) As a monotheistic religion, Christianity could hardly borrow from a polytheistic religion from a polytheistic religion 6) First century Christianity was an exclusivistic faith, not a syncretistic on, which it would have become if it was borrowing 7) Christianity is demonstrably grounded in actual events of history 8) If borrowing did occur, it was the other way around

22 “Moreover, aspects of the Jesus story simply would not have been invented by anyone wanting to make up a new Savior. The earliest followers of Jesus declared that he was a crucified messiah. But prior to Christianity, there were no Jews at all, of any kind whatsoever, who thought that there would be a future crucified messiah. The messiah was to be a figure of grandeur and power who overthrew the enemy. Anyone who wanted to make up a messiah would make him like that. Why did the Christians not do so? Because they believed specifically that Jesus was the Messiah. And they knew full well that he was crucified. The Christians did not invent Jesus.” Bart Ehrman

23 Bart Ehrman vs. The Infidel Guy VS

24 BART D. EHRMAN is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


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