Essay:Critics of the historicity of Jesus

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See the main article on this topic: Evidence for the historical existence of Jesus Christ
Robertson is prepared to concede the possibility of an historical Jesus … What the myth theory [of John Mackinnon RobertsonWikipedia] denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded.
Archibald RobertsonWikipedia[1]
Modern Christianity must always reckon with the possibility of having to abandon the historical figure of Jesus … he should never be considered its foundation.
Albert SchweitzerWikipedia[2][3]
As for the question of whether Jesus existed, the best answer is that any attempt to find a historical Jesus is a waste of time. It can’t be done, it explains nothing, and it proves nothing.
—Tom Dykstra[4]
Had there been no imaginary Jesus, there would have been no Christianity. Thus, the historicity hypothesis doesn’t really do all that much work to explain the origins of Christianity: we all agree it originated from the teachings of a non-existent Jesus, so why do we need to cling so desperately to a real Jesus, who didn’t even invent the religion?
Richard Carrier[5]

This list in general (but not specifically) presents scholars and commentators who assert (or are at least sympathetic to the viewpoint) that Christianity and the New Testament writings can be explained without any reference to a historical Jesus. For example Philip Davies,Wikipedia who holds that the historicity of Jesus is more probable but writes, "the rise and growth of Christianity can be examined and explained without the need to reconstruct a particular historical Jesus."[6]

Viewpoint color legend[edit]

Despite many other flaws,[note 1] the gospels support a rounded figure[7][8] and a historical Jesus certainly existed[9]
The gospels do not support a rounded figure[note 2] but a historical Jesus of some sort probably existed
The gospels do not support a Jesus figure and a position of agnosticism[10] is held on the historicity of Jesus
Jesus is probably ahistorical

Some of the leading scholars who represent the various viewpoints on the question of the "Historicity of Jesus" are:

Bart Ehrman – American professor of the New Testament and writer
G. A. WellsWikipedia – English professor of German and writer
Raphael Lataster – Australian credentialed teacher of religious studies and writer
Richard Carrier – American credentialed historian and writer

The [red|red] viewpoint—as asserted by Earl DohertyWikipedia—is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed,[note 3] that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction…"[note 4][13]

The [red|yellow] viewpoint is given by Raphael Lataster, who writes:

I do not assert that Jesus did not exist. I am a Historical Jesus agnostic. That is, I am unconvinced by the case for the Historical Jesus, and find several reasons to be doubtful. To compare these terms to those often used when discussing the issue of God’s existence, the ‘historicist’ is the equivalent of the ‘theist’, and the ‘mythicist’ is the equivalent of the ‘strong atheist’ or ‘hard naturalist’. The oft-forgotten ‘Historical Jesus agnostic’ is the equivalent of, well, the ‘God agnostic’.

I'd like to throw one more term into the mix. Not all ‘atheists’ are ‘strong atheists. Some are simply ‘agnostics’. I would like to propose, then, that we use the term ‘ahistoricists’ to encompass both the ardent ‘mythicists’ and the less certain ‘agnostics’. This avoids the false dichotomy, which I think historicists (much like theists) have been taking advantage of. They often frame the debate as only being between the right and the wrong, the reasonable and righteous historicists versus the silly mythicists, ironically appearing as unnuanced and dogmatic fundamentalists in the process. (As with the common false dilemma, presented by apologists, of ‘the truth’ being found in ‘Christianity’ or in ‘strong atheism’.)[14]

The [green|black] viewpoint is held by Bart Ehrman and many other biblical scholars who embrace the hypothesis that (as described by Raphael Lataster):

The generally unreliable, untrustworthy, and fiction-filled Gospels can occasionally be considered excellent sources of objective and accurate historical information because of their foundational written sources, which do not exist, which contained many fictions if they did, and which cannot now be scrutinised for authorship, age, genre, intent, and so forth. These hypothetical written sources are themselves based on oral traditions, that also cannot be scrutinised, that changed over time, and that may well have been made up whole cloth. Therefore we have conclusive proof that Jesus definitely existed.[15]

The [red|blue] viewpoint subspectrum[edit]

[W]riters who are often placed in the mythicist camp present a slightly different view, namely, that there was indeed a historical Jesus but that he was not the founder of Christianity, a religion rooted in the mythical Christ-figure invented by its original adherents.
Bart Ehrman[16]
Negative as these [minimalist] conclusions appear, they must be strictly distinguished from the theories of the mythologists. According to the critics whom we may term minimalists, Jesus did live, but his biography is almost totally unknown to us.
Maurice GoguelWikipedia[17]
Seven Colors of the Rainbow.png For caveatsWiktionary of the [red|blue] viewpoint subspectrum see Christ myth theory

Richard Carrier asserts that the [red|blue] viewpoint subspectrum is defined by three propositions.

[T]hree minimal facts on which historicity rests:

  1. An actual man at some point named Jesus acquired followers in life who continued as an identifiable movement after his death.
  2. This is the same Jesus who was claimed by some of his followers to have been executed by the Jewish or Roman authorities.
  3. This is the same Jesus some of whose followers soon began worshiping as a living god (or demigod).

That all three propositions are true shall be my minimal theory of historicity.[18]

A precise historicity theory would look very similar to Carrier's minimal theory of historicity but perhaps with modifications and caveats e.g.:

  • Per said man, He would in actual fact have been named Yeshu or Yeshua, as Jesus was the Latinised version of the name, which a historical Jesus would not have used.
  • Per said followers, this is the movement which grew into what we now know as the Christian faith. It is otherwise theoretically possible that there might have been some other movement of people following a Yeshua who was executed while meanwhile Christianity arose from a mythical Yeshua/Jesus.
  • etc.

Perhaps some day in the future.. in a peer reviewed monograph for the defense of the historicity theory, published by a respected academic press, this might be found.

Historicists run the risk of being falsely labeled as Mythicists if their dating of the birth and death of Jesus does not comply with Mainstream scholarship that recognizes that there was a historical Jesus, but with only two events supported by consensus: Jesus' baptism, and his crucifixion.

Jesus died in the 1st century CEWikipedia
Jesus died in the 1st century BCE or CE
Jesus died in the 1st century BCEWikipedia
Jesus died prior to the 1st century BCE

The [red|red] viewpoint subspectrum[edit]

Despite countless variations … the basic thesis of every competent mythologist, then and now, has always been that Jesus was originally a god just like any other god (properly speaking, a demigod in pagan terms; an archangel in Jewish terms; in either sense, a deity), who was later historicized, just as many other gods were [also historicized]…
Richard Carrier[19]
The ahistorical Jesus originated from normative human sociological/religious impulses which includes religious syncretismWikipedia
Jesus is a deliberate synthetic fiction and/or a conspiracy

Richard Carrier gives the following caveat for the [red|red] viewpoint subspectrum:

(1) The Gospels are the only definite source for a historical Jesus we have (everything else either derives from them or is too ambiguous to determine the question), yet they portray Jesus more similarly to other mythical persons than any historical person (even historical persons we know were also mythologized), therefore we need good evidence to prove Jesus is the exception among those similar characters; otherwise, we should conclude he is just like all the others, i.e. just as mythical as they are.

(2) The Epistles that predate the Gospels should provide such evidence, but instead exhibit no clear evidence that Jesus was ever known to have visited Earth; they appear only to know of a revelatory Jesus who was only ever met or spoken to in visions.

(1) + (2) = Jesus was more likely mythical than historical.

Note this is not "Jesus was mythical." Rather, "more likely" to be. In OHJ I still conclude with a 1 in 3 chance there was a historical Jesus.

Also note that (1) is crucially distinct and different from "the Gospel stories were made up." A biography merely being made up is not the same thing as fashioning a character entirely according to pagan and Jewish tropes for mythical persons.[20]

Robertson, Smith, and Dujardin contend that the story of Jesus is the humanization of a pre-Christian God Jesus (Jeshua or Joshua), who had been worshipped in Palestine before the arrival of the Hebrews, and whose cult lingered after the victory of Jahveh in obscure groups, mainly in Galilee [...] Drews believes that the Messiah-figure in Isaiah is the source of the myth, and puts an astral interpretation on many details. Couchoud finds the origin in Paul's alleged vision, and Rylands (The Beginnings of Gnostic Christianity, 1941) looks to pre-Christian Gnostic speculations.
Joseph McCabeWikipedia[21]
Bolland, De Evangelische Jozua; Rylands, The Evolution of Christianity; Rylands, The Beginnings of Gnostic Christianity; Zindler, The Jesus the Jews Never Knew … held that Christianity began variously among Hellenized Jewish settlements throughout the Diaspora, with allegorized Jewish elements being made almost unrecognizable by their intermingling with gnostic mythemes.
Robert M. PriceWikipedia[22]
Prior to Wells, the mythicist whose views were closest to my own was Paul-Louis Couchoud who wrote in the 1920s, though I took my own fresh run at the question and drew very little from Couchoud himself.
Earl DohertyWikipedia[23]
Jesus began in the Christian mind as a celestial being (like an archangel), believed or claimed to be revealing divine truths through revelations
Jesus is a pre-Christian god
Christianity began variously among Hellenized Jewish settlements throughout the Diaspora, with religious syncretism of Jewish elements and gnostic mythemes
Christianity began after a sequence of events: 1. various prominent leader deaths; 2. subsequently having a number of competing narratives spun by Jewish Pharisee and Sadducee interests, and then 3. by an amalgamist-mythicist process that resulted in the cross-fertilization of these myths about various persons.[24]
Couchoud, Doherty, Carrier[25]
Robertson, Smith, Dujardin
Bolland, Rylands, Zindler[note 5]


Hector AvalosWikipedia (1958–2021) – American professor of Religious Studies, cultural anthropologist, and the author of several books on religion[29]

There are three possible positions when it comes to Jesus. You can be a ‘historicist,’ you can be a ‘mythicist,’ or you can be an ‘agnostic’ … An agnostic says: “Well, the data are insufficient to settle the question one way or the other.” That’s where I am.[30]


Jesus supposedly lived sometime between 4 B.C.E. and 30 C.E., but there is not a single contemporary historical mention of Jesus … The lack of contemporary corroboration does not disprove his existence, of course, but it certainly casts great doubt on the historicity of [Jesus]…[32]

Harry Elmer BarnesWikipedia (1889–1968) – American historian[33]

Among the more eminent scholars and critics who have contended that Jesus was not an actual historical figure we mention Bruno BauerWikipedia, KalthoffWikipedia, DrewsWikipedia, Ste(u)delWikipedia, Felde(n)Wikipedia, Deÿe, JensenWikipedia, LublinskiWikipedia, BollandWikipedia, Van de(n) Berg(h)Wikipedia, VirolleaudWikipedia, CouchoudWikipedia, MasseyWikipedia, BossiWikipedia, NiemojewskiWikipedia, BrandesWikipedia, RobertsonWikipedia, MeadWikipedia, WhittakerWikipedia, CarpenterWikipedia and W. B. SmithWikipedia. While the writer does not concur in the extremely critical position taken by this group of writers, the very fact that so large a group of eminent scholars can earnestly maintain their thesis [is significant]…[34]

Rudolf BultmannWikipedia (1884–1976) – German theologian and professor of the New Testament[27][28]

[Apart from the evidence sussedWiktionary by purely critical research] we can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, are moreover fragmentary and often legendary; and other sources about Jesus do not exist.[35][36]


Benjamin Cain (–) –

[T]he evidence for Jesus’s historicity is mixed at best; indeed, the evidence is much poorer than we’d have expected, given what Christians have been saying for two thousand years. It looks like Christianity began as a Jewish version of a Mystery cult, as a merger of the Jewish expectations of the messiah with the rites and theology of the pagan savior gods and with the Hellenistic philosophy of the divine intermediary deity (Logos), which coincided with Jewish speculation about a similar figure, known as personified Wisdom.[37]

I’ll just close by reemphasizing that I’m not saying anyone can prove Jesus didn’t exist. I’m saying the available evidence is too ambiguous or otherwise problematic to establish any particular model of an historical Jesus beyond reasonable doubt. If all such models not just can but must be doubted, there’s no way of knowing, from our standpoint now with the evidence we have, whether anything like the familiar Jesus actually lived. Given that extreme uncertainty, a mythicist scenario becomes at least as plausible and as likely as any of the historicist ones.[38]

Richard Carrier (1969–) – American historian and writer[27][28]

I think it is more likely that Jesus began in the Christian mind as a celestial being (like an archangel), believed or claimed to be revealing divine truths through revelations (and, by bending the ear of prophets in previous eras, through hidden messages planted in scripture). Christianity thus began the same way Islam and Mormonism did: by their principal apostles (Mohammed and Joseph Smith) claiming to have received visions from their religion’s “actual” teacher and founder, in each case an angel (Gabriel dictated the Koran, Moroni provided the Book of Mormon).[39]

David Chumney – American freethinker and writer

"If someone were to ask me, "Is there credible historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth actually existed?" I would say, "Yes, but precious little." If someone were to ask me, “Is some of what the gospels preserve about Jesus a product of pious imagination and religious devotion?” I would say, "Yes, nearly all of it." In other words, I am convinced that Jesus of Nazareth really did exist, but I am equally convinced that the Gospels comprise, as Randel Helms has said, "largely fictional accounts concerning an historical figure."[40][41]

Peter Clarke (–) – American journalist and writer.[42]

I couldn't find a good argument to suggest that Jesus was a historical figure and so that's why I became a mythicist that's why I started making videos about it and that's why I continue to Advocate on behalf of the position[43]


Will DurantWikipedia (1885–1981) – American writer, historian, and philosopher

In summary, [separate from the historicity of Jesus] it is clear that there are many contradictions between one gospel and another, many dubious statements of history, many suspicious resemblances to the legends told of pagan gods, many incidents apparently designed to prove the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, many passages possibly aiming to establish a historical basis for some later doctrine or ritual of the Church. The evangelists shared with Cicero, Sallust, and Tacitus the conception of history as a vehicle for moral ideas. And presumably the conversations and speeches reported in the Gospels were subject to the frailties of illiterate memories, and the errors or emendations of copyists.[44]

Tom Dykstra – Independent scholar with a PhD in Renaissance Christianity and is published in the field of New Testament studies[29]

How different is a mythical Christ from a historical Jesus that we can’t know much about with any degree of confidence? … It’s the New Testament Christ that Christianity is all about, not an imaginary historical Jesus that historians construct by accepting or rejecting various parts of the gospels by applying questionable criteria and by mining equally questionable extra-Biblical sources.[45]


Bart Ehrman (1955–) – American New Testament professor and author[33][28][29]

It is true that the Gospels are riddled with other kinds of historical problems [separate from the historicity of Jesus] and that they relate events that almost certainly did not happen.[46]


Vardis FisherWikipedia (1895–1968) – American novelist

Was Jesus of Nazareth a historic person? We do not know, and unless documents turn up of which we have no knowledge we cannot hope ever to know. … says Schmiedel: "the view that Jesus never really lived has gained in ever-growing number of supporters. It is no use to ignore it, or to frame resolutions against it." [says] Weigell: "Many of the most erudite critics are convinced that no such person ever lived." Among those so convinced [that no such person ever lived], some of them internationally known scholars, are Bauer, B(ö)htlingk, Bolland, Bossi, E. Carpenter, Couchoud, D(u)puis, Drews, Dujardin, Fran(c)k(e), Hannay, Heulhard, Jensen, Kalthoff, Kulischer, Loman, Lublinski, Matthas, Mead, Naber, Pierson, Robertson, Rylands, G. Smith, W. B. Smith, Stahl, Van Eysinga, Virolleaud, Volney and Whittaker.[47]

David Fitzgerald (1964–) – American atheist activist and writer[27]
James George FrazerWikipedia (1854–1941) – Scottish social anthropologist and folklorist[27]

I desire to point out explicitly that my theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth … who founded Christianity and was crucified at Jerusalem under the governorship of Pontius Pilate.… It is only the details of the life and death of Christ that remain, and will probably always remain, shrouded in the mists of uncertainty.[48]


John Gleason (–) – American software engineer and developer of the app "Christ’s Historicity Rebuttal and Explanation System: Tools, Utilities, and Services (C.H.R.E.S.T.U.S.)";[49] the Godless Engineering website;[50] and the YouTube video channel Godless Engineering.[51]

The evidence for Jesus is shit.[52]

Neil Godfrey

Certain Christ Myth proponents (Couchoud, Doherty, Carrier) have proposed the celestial origin of the Christ (Jesus?) figure but that leaves unaddressed the question of growth of the new belief system. Can anyone imagine Christianity getting a hold without the gospel narratives or something akin to those narratives? The point of the celestial origin perspective, from what I recall, is that it adapted into a set of narratives (allegorical at first, perhaps, but not necessarily) that involved that celestial figure descending to earth, to his people, in some form of fleshly aspect.
by the time Christianity is making some noticeable gains in society it has most certainly moved on from any supposed celestial origin. It is from the time Jesus is believed to have been "a man" visiting his people etc that the faith takes off in a more popular way.

The question of celestial origins of the Christ belief is about getting to — well — "the origins". But those arguments, at least the ones I am familiar with, also contain a part 2: that that celestial figure was "given flesh" by gospel-like narratives that present him as a human figure. I think the Gospel of Mark is an especially strong piece of evidence that those narratives originated as some sort of intertextual/midrashic type creativity.

Mythicists make a mistake if they merely argue for a celestial origin of Christ and leave it at that.[25]

[T]he position that Jesus had no historical existence … is in itself a perfectly legitimate theory entitled to serious discussion.[53]


R. Joseph HoffmannWikipedia (1947–) – American theologian and writer[28][29]

I no longer believe it is possible to answer the 'historicity question'. … Whether the New Testament runs from Christ to Jesus or Jesus to Christ is not a question we can answer. [54]



Paul [is], admitting, after having preached a considerable number of years, that he knows nothing true of Jesus Christ, but that which Jesus Christ had revealed to himself; and expressly declaring that this had been a mystery kept secret since the world began, and was only then first preached by himself.

This declaration were there nothing else, would be sufficient to destroy all idea of the four gospels being authentic.[55]

  • Kurt NollWikipedia (–) – American biblical scholar and historian

Jesus was functionally irrelevant to the earliest stages of what contemporary researchers call the Jesus movement, or the Christ cult, or the Jesus-confessing communities (and that I will call early Christianity).[56]


Raphael Lataster (1984–) – Australian secular teacher of religious studies and writer[33][29]


Stephen LawWikipedia (1960–) – English philosopher and editor of the journal ThinkWikipedia[58]

My concern … is with the claim that there is, indeed, historical evidence sufficient firmly to establish the existence of Jesus. Note that while I question whether there is, in fact, such historical evidence, I do not argue that we are justified in supposing that Jesus is an entirely mythical figure (I remain no less sceptical about that claim).[59]

John W. LoftusWikipedia (1954–) – American teacher of apologetics, philosophy, critical thinking, ethics and writer.

One way to look at it, probably the best way, is to ask ourselves how much of the Jesus we see in the New Testament is mythical? Of all the tales we read about Jesus, how much is made up, or borrowed, or based on faked OT prophecy? I’d say a great deal is mythical at the very very best. At the very least, there’s no way at all to corroborate the tales! That alone makes me a Jesus mythicist. Am I right or am I right?[60]


Joseph McCabeWikipedia – English freethinker and writer[27]

Many (including the present writer) are content to infer broadly, from the scanty reliable evidence and the religious developments of the first century, that probably some Jew named Jesus adopted the Persian belief [see Avesta] in the end of the world and, thinking that it was near, left his Essenian monastery [see Essenes] to warn his fellows, and was put to death. They feel that the question of historicity has little importance…[21]


Peter Nothnagle (–) –

So what have I learned in my efforts to uncover the historical Jesus? I’ll be blunt:

  • The first “witnesses” to Jesus didn’t know he was a man [on Earth].
  • Jesus’ first “biography” turns out to be a symbolic story made out of earlier myths and fiction.
  • Later versions took that basic story and freely changed it to suit their own agendas, adding increasingly unbelievable elements.
  • And on top of those less-than-promising foundations, there is no other evidence.

That doesn’t mean that it’s all false, but here’s the important bit: it does mean that there is no good reason to believe that any of it is true. Believe it, if you like, on faith, but know that even the very best evidence that supports it is weak, contradictory, or simply fraudulent.[61]



Chris Palmero (1984–) – American author and podcast publisher[62]

If I were to contribute any quote [to this Essay:Critics of the historicity of Jesus ], it would probably be a modification of the statement from my Episode 1 where I said [Jesus was] "not a historical figure, but the composite merger of a gnostic savior deity and the super-celestial Messiah of the Samaritan syncretic cults, who was eventually imagined, in a retrospective legend, to have lived as a man on earth."

This is largely because I base my own mythicist theories on the texts and the origins of Christianity being late, hence it leaves quite a wide door open for mythicism.

R. G. Price (–) –[63]

The “minimal Jesus” is a very odd thing that, for some reason, many people are drawn to, but in fact it makes no sense and isn’t really supported by any data. It’s more like just a sort of personal bargaining chip that people throw out so that they can both agree that the Gospels are exaggerations that don’t tell us anything meaningful and also that mythicism is bunk.[64]

Robert M. PriceWikipedia (1954–) – American theologian and writer[27][28]

Let me summarize the major factors that lead me to accept the Christ Myth as the most likely hypothesis to explain the data.

First, almost every story in the Gospels (and Acts) can be plausibly argued to be borrowed from the Greek Old Testament, Homer, or Euripides.…
Second, every detail of the narrated life of Jesus fits the outlines of the Mythic Hero archetype present in all cultures…
Third, the epistles, regardless of their dates as earlier or later than the gospels, seem to enshrine a different vein of early Christian faith which lacked an earthly Jesus…[65]


John Eleazer RemsburgWikipedia (1848–1919) – American freethinker and writer.[27]

Some believe that Jesus, a real person, was the germ of this Christ [figure] whom subsequent generations gradually evolved; others contend that the man Jesus, as well as the Christ, is wholly a creation of the human imagination. After carefully weighing the evidence and arguments in support of each hypothesis the writer, while refraining from expressing a dogmatic affirmation regarding either, is compelled to accept the former as the more probable.[66]

That a man named Jesus, an obscure religious teacher, the basis of this fabulous Christ, lived in Palestine about nineteen hundred years ago, may be true. But of this man we know nothing. His biography has not been written.[67]

Archibald Robertson (1886–1961) – English civil servant and writer[28]

We know next to nothing about this Jesus. He is not the founder of anything that we can recognize as Christianity. He is a mere postulate of historical criticism—a dead leader of a lost cause, to whom sayings could be credited and round whom a legend could be written.[68]

J. M. RobertsonWikipedia (1856–1933) – Scottish journalist, politician and writer[27][28]

[Even] though it is not recorded that any reports of Jesuine sayings existed in any form in Paul's time we are asked to believe that a multitude of Jesuine discourses delivered about the year 30 were accurately reproduced, without additions, forty or more years later; and that documents to which during a century anybody might add, in an age of habitual forgery, are valid evidence. Clearly this is the merest fanaticism. All that can rationally be claimed is that a teacher or teachers named Jesus, or several differently named teachers called Messiahs, may have Messianically uttered some of these teachings at various periods, presumably after the writing of the Pauline epistles.[69]

  • Bertrand RussellWikipedia (1872–1970) – British academic of philosophy, mathematics, and logic.

Historically it is quite doubtful whether [Jesus] Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about Him…[70]

  • Jonathan Rutherford (–) –

The conclusion I have come to, along with a few unorthodox scholars, is that Mark is a theological allegory. Mark is an allegory because, although it appears to be a straightforward account of the life of Jesus, ‘the content and structure of the narrative are carefully arranged to convey deeper, non-literal meaning’ [Carrier 2014:390]. This is accomplished through the use of symbolic keywords, ironies and literary allusions [Carrier 2014:390]. According to this view, Jesus is more like the lead protagonist in a symbolic drama designed to communicate non-literal theological meaning and values, as opposed to the focal individual of a historical biography.[71]

  • Nikolai Rumyantsev (1892–1956) – Russian historian[31]
  • L. Gordon Rylands (1862-1942) – British criminologist and writer[27]


René Salm[27][28]

I am persuaded that the incipient Church invented the figure Jesus of Nazareth and did so in the second century of our era. That invention, however, was not of whole cloth. There was in fact a Jesus known to history and vilified in Talmudic annals as Yeshu ha-Notsri (literally, Jesus the Nazarene). This 'real' Jesus was born about one hundred years before the turn of the era and was tried and crucified by the Pharisees for apostasy and heresy. Please see my website for more details.

Albert SchweitzerWikipedia (1875–1965) – German critical scholar who wrote a history of the research on the "Life of Jesus" [Leben-Jesu-Forschung].[27][28]

Against the historicity of the oldest Gospel tradition

Arthur Böhtlingk (Professor in Karlsruhe), Zur Aufbellung der Christus-Mythologie (Towards the Elucidation of the Christ Mythology), Frankfurt am Main 1911, 15 pp.

Peter Jensen, Hat der Jesus der Evangelien wirklich gelebt? Eine Antwort an Professor Jilicher (Did the Jesus of the Gospels Really Live? A Reply to Professor Jiilicher), Frankfurt am Main 1910, 32 pp.

Ernst Krieck (teacher in Mannheim), Die neueste Orthodoxie und das Christusproblem (The Most Recent Orthodoxy and the Christ Problem, directed particularly against Weinel), Jena 1910, 63 pp.

Friedrich Steudel (Preacher at St Remberti, Bremen, grandson of Friedrich Steudel, the chief opponent of David Friedrich Strauss), Im Kampf um die Christusmythe (The Battle over the Christ Myth, directed against P. W. Schmeidel and Johannes Weiss in particular), Jena 1910, 119 pp.

Wir Gelebrten vom Fach (We Scholars on the Subject. A Polemical Treatise against von Soden’s ‘Did Jesus live?’), Frankfurt am Main 1910, 95 pp.

Heinrich Zimmern, Zum Streit um die Christusmythe. Das babylonische Material (The Christ Myth Controversy. The Babylonian Material), Berlin 1910, 66 pp.

Varia: Hat Jesus gelebt? (Did Jesus live?). Talks given at the Berliner Religionsgesprach of the German Society of Monists on 31 January and 1 February 1910 in the Berlin Zoological Garden: A. Drews, von Soden, F. Steudel, G. Hollmann, Max Fischer, F. Lipsius, H. Francke, T. Kappstein, Max Maurenbrecher, Berlin and Leipzig 1910, 93 pp.

Diskussion (journal) No.1, Lebte Jesus?, F. Steudel, H. Francke, H. Lhotsky, M. Maurenbrecher, M. Ruland, H. Buber, Berlin 1910, 57 pp.[72]

Many people seem to think it’s crazy to doubt Jesus existed, but it’s actually the belief he did that’s unreasonable. The claim, made by Ehrman in his book “Did Jesus Exist?”, that he was “ a purely human being ” who died around 30 CE (e.g. pp. 37, 46 (epub)) simply isn’t borne out by an open-minded weighing of the evidence.[73]


Thomas L. ThompsonWikipedia (1939–) – American-born Danish Biblical scholar and theologian[27][28][29]

In an article ('The Historiography of the Pentateuch: 25 Years after Historicity' Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 13, 1999, 258-283)[74] I have discussed why I think it is very difficult to establish the historicity of figures in biblical narrative, as the issue rather relates to the quality of texts one is dealing with. I work further on this issue in my Messiah Myth[75] of 2005. Here I argue that the synoptic gospels can hardly be used to establish the historicity of the figure of Jesus; for both the episodes and sayings with which the figure of Jesus is presented are stereotypical and have a history that reaches centuries earlier. I have hardly shown that Jesus did not exist and did not claim to. Rather, I compared our knowledge about Jesus to our knowledge of figures like Homer.[76]



George Albert WellsWikipedia (1926–2017) – English Professor of German and writer[27][28]

[F]rom the mid-1990s I became persuaded that many of the gospel traditions are too specific in their references to time, place, and circumstances to have developed in such a short time from no other basis, and are better understood as traceable to the activity of a Galilean preacher of the early first century … This is the position I have argued in my books of 1996, 1999, and 2004, although the titles of the first two of these—The Jesus Legend and The Jesus Myth—may mislead potential readers into supposing that I still denied the historicity of the gospel Jesus. These titles were chosen because I regarded (and still do regard) the virgin birth, much in the Galilean ministry, the crucifixion around A.D. 30 under Pilate, and the resurrection as legendary.[77]


Frank ZindlerWikipedia (1939–) – American atheist writer[27][28]

I would like to show how shaky the evidence is regarding the alleged existence of a would-be messiah named Jesus. I now feel it is more reasonable to suppose he never existed. It is easier to account for the facts of early Christian history if Jesus were a fiction than if he once were real.[78]

Critics of the historicity of the Christ[edit]

[James George Frazer′sWikipedia] subtitle of the first edition of The Golden Bough was ‘A Study in Comparative Religion’, whereas that of the second edition was ‘A Study in Magic and Religion’.… Although Jesus of Nazareth is never mentioned—Frazer had no stomach for religious polemic—only the slowest reader could fail to make the connection: if Attis, Adonis, Osiris, and Dionysus are now only barbaric reminders of a backward age, can Jesus [the Christ] be any different? The conclusion follows that Christianity must also take its place on the same shelf as these outworn creeds.
—Robert Ackerman[79]

1835: David StraussWikipedia (1808–1874) – German liberal Protestant theologian and writer

It appeared to the author of the work … that it was time to substitute a new mode of considering the life of Jesus, in the place of the antiquated systems of supernaturalism and naturalism.… the recent attempts to recover, by the aid of a mystical philosophy, the supernatural! point of view held by our forefathers, betray themselves, by the exaggerating spirit in which they are conceived, to be final, desperate efforts to render the past present, the inconceivable conceivable. The new point of view, which must take the place of the above, is the mythical.[80]

1842: Bruno BauerWikipedia (1809–1882) – German philosopher and historian

[W]hether Jesus is the historical Christ, we have answered by showing that everything that the historical Christ is, what is said of him, what we of him is know, belongs to the world of the imagination and indeed to the Christian imagination, thus also with a person who belongs to the real world has nothing to do with.[81]

1904: Albert KalthoffWikipedia (1850–1906) – German Protestant theologian

A Son of God, Lord of the World, born of a virgin, and rising again after death, and the son of a small builder with revolutionary notions, are two totally different beings. If one was the historical Jesus, the other certainly was not.[82]

1906: Albert SchweitzerWikipedia (1875–1965) – German critical scholar who wrote a history of the research on the "Life of Jesus" [Leben-Jesu-Forschung]

That the historic Jesus is something different from the Jesus Christ of the doctrine of the Two Natures seems to us now self-evident. We can, at the present day, scarcely imagine the long agony in which the historical view of the life of Jesus came to birth … Thus each successive epoch of theology found its own thoughts in Jesus; that was, indeed, the only way in which it could make Him live. But it was not only each epoch that found its reflection in Jesus; each individual created Him in accordance with his own character. There is no historical task which so reveals a man's true self as the writing of a Life of Jesus. [83]

1909: John Eleazer RemsburgWikipedia (1848–1919) – American freethinker and writer

[T]he Christ is understood [as] the Jesus of the New Testament. The Jesus of the New Testament is the Christ of Christianity. The Jesus of the New Testament is a supernatural being. He is, like the Christ, a myth. He is the Christ myth.[84]

1997: Robert M. PriceWikipedia

[I]n the case of Jesus Christ, where virtually every detail of the story fits the mythic hero archetype, with nothing left over, no "secular," biographical data, so to speak, it becomes arbitrary to assert that there must have been a historical figure lying back of the myth.[85]

2021: John W. LoftusWikipedia

The Jesus [Christ] pictured in the Gospels is a myth. If we must take the mythical tales at face value, then such a person found in the gospels never existed. So, the Jesus depicted in the Gospels never existed. If there was a real human being who was the basis for the Jesus character in the New Testament, he is dead now.[11]

Critics of biblical scholars and what the gospels say about Jesus[edit]

[Hector Avalos takes issue with] Biblical scholars who simply accept (at least in part, as supernatural claims may be omitted) what the gospels say about Jesus, and also takes issue with scholars “privileging” the texts.… Avalos claims that Biblical scholarship is primarily a religionist enterprise and also criticises the use of the Bible as a reliable source of history.
Raphael Lataster[86]

[I]n biblical studies, setting the dating of a document as early as possible gives it more heft and, not incidentally, thereby helps one’s career.[87]

[I]f one is employing “Q” or any other hypothetical gospel to get closer to an understanding of the historical Yeshua, then watch carefully for downward-dating creep. This has been mentioned earlier. The scholars who create the hypothetical gospels usually invest them with greater importance than they otherwise would have, by positing early dates for them. This is simple hubris in most instances.[88]

  • William E. Arnal — professor of religion and classics, New York University

Whether Jesus himself existed as a historical figure or not, the gospels that tell of him are unquestionably mythic texts.… In seeking to find the real, historical person behind these narratives, we are using these texts as sources for a figure that they themselves show no interest in at all. Just as the myths and legends about Herakles are simply not about a historical person, so also the gospels are not about the historical Jesus.[89]

The dependence of the gospels on the Old Testament and on other extant texts is incomparably clearer and more verifiable than its dependence on any oral tradition…[90]

In Proving History[91] I show many historians making many mistakes … in defense of the historicity of Jesus—and when you correct all these mistakes (both of fact and of logic), there is no case left over for a historical Jesus. This is how we know the modern consensus is malformed and thus no longer citable as reliable.[92]

I don’t think we are ignoring the possibility the Gospels record oral lore. We simply have no reason to believe it—and every reason to disbelieve it. We’ve moved on. Scholarship needs to join us. Because until they do, all they are doing is chasing a ghost of their own making.[12]

  • Philip R. Davies — emeritus professor of biblical studies, University of Sheffield

[Per Jesus] a recognition that his existence is not entirely certain would nudge Jesus scholarship towards academic respectability.[6]

[S]urely the rather fragile historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth should be tested to see what weight it can bear, or even to work out what kind of historical research might be appropriate. Such a normal exercise should hardly generate controversy in most fields of ancient history, but of course New Testament studies is not a normal case and the highly emotive and dismissive language of, say, Bart Ehrman’s response to Thompson’s The Mythic Past shows (if it needed to be shown), not that the matter is beyond dispute, but that the whole idea of raising this question needs to be attacked, ad hominem, as something outrageous.[6]

  • Tom Dykstra — independent scholar

[O]bserving how others conduct the quest [for the historical Jesus] is rewarding for anyone interested in the Bible. The spectacle of what scholars have been doing in the drive to answer the unanswerable, and of how so many of them reacted disrespectfully to Brodie’s sober and respectful assessment of that drive, is a cautionary note about the character of scholarly writing in the field of biblical studies. To a degree greater than that in many other academic fields, you have to take pronouncements of fact by biblical scholars with a grain of salt.[93]

  • Bart Ehrman — professor of the New Testament, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer

I would say that most biblical scholars in fact are not historians. But some are.[94]

  • David Fitzgerald — writer

[T]he majority of biblical historians in academia are employed by religiously affiliated institutions. This fact alone explains much of the resistance to Jesus Myth theory even among scholars who personally identify as secular. Furthermore, of those schools, we can quantify that at least 41% (if not 100%) require their instructors and staff to publicly reject Jesus Myth or they will not have a career at that institute of higher learning. So the question shouldn’t be: “How many historians reject mythicism?” but “How many historians are contractually obliged to publicly reject mythicism?”[95]

Are the mythicists really on the fringe – or is it more accurate to say that the consensus breaks down on close inspection? In actuality, the difference between the majority opinion of secular biblical scholars and the mythicists is simply the ultimate conclusion; merely the tip of the iceberg. Both sides largely agree (sometimes reluctantly) on virtually all of the evidence serious mythicists build their case upon.[96]

  • Neil Godfrey — primary contributor for the blog Vridar[97]

There is much I disagree with in Donald Akenson’s book, Surpassing Wonder. The Invention of the Bible and the Talmuds (2001), and Akenson would certainly find himself objecting to some of my posts here on Vridar. But Akenson is a serious figure in the field of historical studies and do find his following statements interesting:

During the twentieth century (and to a lesser degree, before that) thousands of biblical scholars have beavered away at the life of Yeshua. In my reading, they appear to break into two camps: those who accept the rules of the historian’s craft (however arbitrary those may be) and those who do not. The second group is impossible for an historian to deal with, because they claim (either explicitly or implicitly as evidenced by the methods they employ) that the rules of proof which apply in secular historical scholarship are all very well, but that there are special evidentiary by-passes when it comes to Jesus-the-Christ. Such works, even when wrapped in historical terminology, really are parts of the history of theology. The first group, the scholars who endeavour to be as rigorous in historical method as possible and who consciously try to avoid special pleading, are much more interesting, not least because they are often first-rate minds and in a very difficult situation. This is particularly true of those who have written on aspects of the historical Yeshua within the last two or three decades. Their position is difficult because (1) in the last quarter of the twentieth century the historical profession generally has become increasingly aware of something that good historians always had known: that there is no such thing as objective historical truth; instead historians deal with the perpetual transience of pale imitation of a final reality that can never be known, a forever-escaping past. Biblical historians, as much as their individual personalities have permitted them, have acted according to the canons of historical investigation, which assert that even if one cannot ever get anything perfectly right it is possible to prove that some ideas about the past are dead wrong. Yet, at the same time, many of the same scholars seem to yearn so deeply for theological-ideological-denominational certainties, that all their efforts at being as objective-as-possible are thwarted. One is frequently reminded of the commonplace assessment of Immanuel Kant, that he spent his entire adult life proving what he had known with certainty when he was five years of age. And (2) the overwhelming majority of biblical scholars are employed by institutions that have a theological or denominational or political ideology (however vestigial) which is based on certain assertions about the nature of the historical Yeshua, the man behind Jesus-the-Christ. These institutional affiliations inevitably involve pressures upon the scholars, or limits on what they can think. It is a hard business to be in. Given the intellectual and social pressures upon them, it is natural that scholars who specialize in trying to find “the real historical Jesus” become co-dependents. However much they differ from each other on matters of interpretation. evidence, and in their individual unconscious assumptions, they need each other and depend upon each other for confirmation that their quest for the historical Yeshua is a valid enterprise. (538-539)

Two pages later:

the overwhelming majority of scholars who do “New Testament” history are employed by institutions or organizations whose roots are in religious belief. Which means: more than any other group in the present day academy, biblical historians are under immense pressure – sometimes overt, sometimes subliminal, but virtually omnipresent – to adjust their scholarship, to theologize their historical work. The maintenance of scholarly integrity by so many of the biblical historians is the product of considerable individual heroism. The pressure they frequently experience helps to explain why one encounters so often in the literature appeals to consensus. (541)

• Akenson, Donald Harman. 2001. Surpassing Wonder: The Invention of the Bible and the Talmuds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.[98]

The Gospels are still assumed to be some form of record of historical events. And if the most sceptical of scholars concedes this, that scholar can rarely escape the tyranny of the cultural world-view that says at the very least the Gospels were inspired by historical events. Even if they narrate only myths, those myths, it is assumed, were inspired by real persons and happenings.

But it is all assumption.

There are nothing but assumptions all the way down.

There is no evidence.

There are no controls.

It is all belief. Faith. Tradition. Assumption.[99]

How does a researcher who prays to the resurrected Jesus spoken of in gospels do serious research into “the historical Jesus”? What would we make of an Egyptologist who was known to communicate — privately, of course — with the eternal pharaohs whose spirits had been immortalized in the pyramids?[100]

Historians cannot lower the standards by which they measure a source’s reliability, simply because they already know, due to the time period in question or for other reasons, that the source is relatively less reliable; even if this is what Biblical scholars actually do.[101]

Historicists and mythicists both posit a different form of Jesus that preceded the Gospel’s version of Jesus. Unfortunately for the historicist, there is not a single piece of evidence, pre-New Testament, for the mundane Historical Jesus. This is not the case with the Celestial Messiah, who some pre-Christian Jews did honour, as even [Bart] Ehrman now acknowledges.[102]

From many angles of research covered in the three books of my trilogy, the books of the New Testament are shown to be historical fiction. Though these books are profound works of literature, they are still works of fiction. And since the New Testament narratives are replete with allusions to Buddhist stories, as well as to stories in the Septuagint, and to Homer’s epics, and to the narratives of Euripides, Sophocles, and Plato, among others, and in the Book of Revelation, to ancient Egyptian narratives, and, finally, to historical accounts of Philo of Alexandria and Flavius Josephus, it becomes incumbent on researchers to examine carefully and extensively the well-documented studies of Buddhist influence on Christianity.[103]

  • Justin Meggitt — Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge

New Testament scholars should concede that the kind of history that is deemed acceptable in their field is, at best, somewhat eccentric.[104]

  • Richard C. Miller — scholar of Christian origins and writer

[The academic quest described by Albert Schweitzer in his landmark work The Quest of the Historical Jesus] to uncover the originary kernel of the Gospels … has proven little more than a fool’s errand. We are now faced with the obvious: these cultic tales are not and were never given as historiographical “footage” of live first-century events in time and space.”[105]

  • Emanuel Pfoh — professor of history, National University of La Plata

The main reason for holding to the historicity of the figure of Jesus, as his activities are narrated in the Gospels, resides not primarily in historical evidence but derives instead from a modern theological necessity. Had Jesus not lived among mortals and, more importantly, had he not died and been raised from the dead, the kernel of Christian theology would lose its essence.[106]

  • Robert M. Price — theologian and writer

One wonders if all these [biblical] scholars came to a certain point and stopped, their assumption being. “If Jesus was a historical figure, he must have done and said something!" But their own criteria and critical tools … ought to have left them with complete agnosticism.[107]

I don’t think you can ‘prove’ either that a historical Jesus existed or that he didn’t. What you can do … is to construe the same old evidence in a new way that makes more natural, less contrived, sense.[108]

  • Thomas L. Thompson — emeritus biblical scholar and theologian

Whether the gospels in fact are biographies—narratives about the life of a historical person—is doubtful. Their pedagogical and legendary character reduces their value for historical reconstruction.[109]

The proper question is rather a largely literary question than an historical one. Until we have texts, which bear evidence of his historicity, we can not do much more with that issue. We can and must, however, ask what the texts mean—as well as ask what they mean if they are not historical (a minimalist question).[110]

  • Thomas S. Verenna — independent researcher[111]

[S]imply because an idea, based on some very valid scholarship, goes against the grain is no reason to dismiss it. I find a lot of positions argued in the academy unconvincing. That doesn’t mean I will seek to have those adhering to these positions ridiculed to the point where they are forced to agree with me. That is nothing short of a form of coercion which ultimately leads to the complete disintegration of academic freedom.[112]

  • Tim Widowfield — regular co-contributor to Vridar[113]

McGrath writes:

Our manuscripts differ in the spell­ing, and that difference is one of the reasons that some historians [sic] feel particularly confident about there being a historical core to this story. (McGrath 2021, p. 219)

By historians, McGrath actually means “theologians who know ancient languages and call themselves historians.”[114]

Critics of mythicism scholars[edit]

  • Richard Carrier

[S]erious, peer-reviewed arguments against the historicity of Jesus should not be conflated or equated with amateur crank proposals of any similar kind (such as those of Joseph Atwill, James Valliant, Dorothy Murdock, or Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy).[115]

  • Neil Godfrey

[There are two types of Jesus mythicism. Here’s how to tell them apart.]

Type 1: Scholarly
The authors engage with not only the source documents of early Christianity but they also address the scholarship that has been written about those documents. The arguments are structured around engagement with the scholarship of biblical studies, ancient history (including judaica), the classics and other related fields such as archaeology, religion, anthropology, historiography, mythology. They apply the norms of the scientific method (e.g. evidence-based, falsifiability). e.g. Thomas Brodie, Richard Carrier, Earl Doherty, Robert Price.

Type 2: Pseudo-Scholarly
The authors engage with the source documents but disregard the bulk of related scholarly discussion and focus primarily on interpreting them tendentiously through a conspiracy theory or other unfalsifiable pseudo-historical theory. That is, their arguments are based on an assumption (that is, there is no unambiguous evidence in support) that there are behind-the-scenes powerful and complex forces and actors manipulating or producing the evidence. The emphasis is on arguing for the “missing link” in explaining Christianity and little to no attention is given to addressing alternative explanations in the scholarship for the evidence used. e.g. Christianity as an invention by Roman imperial powers; a strain of astrotheological beliefs dominated secret mystery religions and morphed into Christianity; Christian teachings began and were preserved in some form though centuries, even millennia, before being re-written in the gospels.[116]

  • Justin Meggitt

It would be a rather thankless and dispiriting task to correct the egregious errors of … Kersey Graves or Acharya S, but it would be unfair for the contributions of Brodie, Price, Carrier and Wells to ‘be tarnished with the same brush or be condemned with guilt by association’; indeed such scholars are generally as critical of the failings of the excesses of fellow mythicists as any others.[117]

Critics of Antiquities 18.3.3 as a wholesale Interpolation[edit]

  • Ken Olson, ‘Eusebius and the “Testimonium Flavianum”’, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 61.2 (1999), pp. 305–22. Olson cites Tessa Rajak, J. Neville Birdsall, and Per Bilde (‘Eusebius and the “Testimonium Flavianum”’, p. 306)
  • Ken Olson, ‘A Eusebian Reading of the Testimonium Flavianum’, in Aaron Johnson and Jeremy Scott (eds.), Eusebius of Caesarea: Tradition and Innovations (Cambridge: Center for Hellenic Studies, 2013), pp. 97–114
  • Ivan Prchlík, ‘Ježíš řečený Christos‘ u Iosepha Flavia: Jistota nejistoty’, in Peter Fraňo and Michal Habaj (eds.), Antica Slavica (Trnava: Univerzita sv. Cyrila a Metoda v Trnave 2018), pp. 77–152 and 280–6
  • Nicholas P. L. Allen, Christian Forgery in Jewish Antiquities: Josephus Interrupted (Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020), 98–228
  • Joshua Efron, Studies on the Hasmonean Period (Leiden: Brill, 1987), p. 333
  • Paul Hopper, ‘A Narrative Anomaly in Josephus: Jewish Antiquities xviii:63’, in Monika Fludernik and Daniel Jacob (eds.), Linguistics and Literary Studies: Interfaces, Encounters, Transfers (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2014), pp. 147–71
  • Ellis Rivkin, What Crucified Jesus? (Nashville: Abingdon, 1984), pp. 64–7
  • Christopher M. Hansen, “Jesus’ Historicity and Sources: The Misuse of Extrabiblical Sources for Jesus and a Suggestion.” The Journal of Biblical Theology 4, no. 3 (2021): 139–162
  • Fausto Parente, ‘Sulla doppia trasmissione, filologica ed ecclesiastica, del testo di Flavio Giuseppe: Un contributo alla storia della ricezione della sua opera nel mondo cristiano’, Rivista di Storia e Letteratura religiosa 36 (2000), pp. 9–25
  • Louis Feldman, ‘On the Authenticity of the Testimonium Flavianum Attributed to Josephus’, in Elisheva Carlebach and Jacob J. Schachter (eds.), New Perspectives on Jewish-Christian Relations: In Honor of David Berger (Leiden: Brill, 2012), pp. 13–30
  • J. Carleton Paget also notes that H. Schreckenberg and K. Schubert ‘tentatively’ rejected the passage as a complete Christian interpolation, see J. Carleton Paget, ‘Some Observations on Josephus and Christianity’, Journal of Theological Studies 52.2 (2001), pp. 539–624 (583).
  • Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2014), pp. 332–42
  • Robert M. Price, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man (Amherst: Prometheus, 2003), pp. 38–9 and 90
  • Detering, Falsche Zeugen, pp. 19–41
  • Lataster, Questioning the Historicity of Jesus, pp. 192–202.
  • Eric Eve, Behind the Gospels: Understanding the Oral Tradition (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2014), p. 170.
  • Jurgen Roloff, The Theology of the New Testament, Vol. 2: The Variety and Unity of the Apostolic Witness to Christ, trans. John Alsup (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.
  • Jürgen Becker, “The Search for Jesus’ Special Profile,” in Tom Holmén and Stanley E. Porter (eds.), Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus (4 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 2011), vol. 1, 57–89
  • S. Kovalev, Osnovnyye Voprosy Proiskhozhdeniya Khristianstva (Moskva: Nauka, 1964), 33
  • Kurt L. Noll, “Investigating Earliest Christianity without Jesus,” in Thomas L. Thompson and Thomas S. Verenna (eds.), ‘Is this not the Carpenter?’ The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus (Sheffield: Equinox, 2012), 233–266 (p. 250, n. 56)
  • Yan Changyou, “Yesu – chuanshuo zhong de xugou renwu,” Shijie zongjiao yanjiu 2 (1983): 122–128
  • Ambrogio Donini, U istokov khristianstva (ot zarozhdeniya do Yustiniana), Second Edition (Moskva: Izdatel’stvo politicheskoy literatury, 1989), 50–52
  • Michael Grant, The Ancient Historians (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1970), 263

Quotable quotes[edit]

[T]here have always been scholars who either wondered whether or positively doubted that Jesus of Nazareth, the man toward whom Christ-following orients itself, actually existed. Such doubts and propositions are all welcome in historical research, along with every other hypothesis about the nature (thoughts, intentions, actions, teaching) of this Jesus, if he did exist.... History is not religion, and its practitioners cannot be preachers, advocates, or polemicists.
Steve MasonWikipedia[118]
[T]he entire history of Christianity, its origins, and the origins and original meaning of its scriptures, entirely depends on the question of historicity. That is beyond trivial.

So how do we proceed? We should start by examining the best case for both sides. And see which side has the sounder premises and logic, when everything is added up, nothing straw-manned, nothing swept under the rug. When all fallacies and falsehoods removed, from both sides, what remains? … We may end up simply not knowing whether Jesus really existed or not. But I put it to you, that an honest and unbiased inquiry, will not end up in certainty that he did.

Richard Carrier[119]
I have long searched for good cases for the Historical Jesus. I sought fairly recent, peer-reviewed academic books or articles, solely/primarily focussed on arguing for Jesus’ historicity, written by secular scholars in relevant fields. Not one source met these criteria. I would have loved the opportunity to critique books focused on this topic written by a James Crossley or an Aaron W. Hughes, and published with Oxford University Press, but such books – perhaps like Jesus – do not exist; so I have settled for two popular books written by Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey.
Raphael Lataster[120]
Listen, it's all very easy: the only objectively verifiable facts are in the texts - in the original MSS, in their original language.

All the rest is interpretation

Thomas, John, Marcion - and then Mark, and Luke\Matthew. That's the order, and all of it can be demonstrated, and that the canonicals are dependent on Thomas has been demonstrated as nauseam already. What else needs to be done?

And who gives a damn about "Paul" - he has nothing to say, and Acts is the most obvious falsification of them all
—Martijn Linssen[121]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. unreliable, untrustworthy, and fiction-filled (see Gospels §. Gospels as history)
  2. [A]s things stand, what is being affirmed as the Jesus of history is a cipher, not a rounded personality (the same is true of the King David of the Hebrew Bible, as a number of recent ‘biographies’ show).
    Philip DaviesWikipedia[6]
  3. Since there was an actual person behind the Popeye traditions, Popeye existed according to mainstream Biblical historians. No one could reasonably doubt that Popeye was based on a real sailor who liked to get into fights, if they studied history properly.

    Since there was an actual person behind Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, Sherlock Holmes really solved crimes in his day.

    So too Santa Claus really exists. Who else brings the presents on December 25th, and who else eats the cookies, and drinks the milk left for him?

    All biblicists need for someone to exist is for a literary figure to be based on a real historical person. So Jesus existed too!

    John W. LoftusWikipedia[11]

  4. The Gospels are so literarily crafted (OHJ, Ch. 10), and so reactive to each other (e.g. in their baptism, empty tomb, nativity stories and beyond) that there is not any evidence left for a tradition even existing. Mark is inventing tradition by reifying Paul … Matthew is inventing tradition to respond to Mark and recent history (e.g. it’s now the mainstream view that the Sermon on the Mount was a post-War fabrication of a Hellenized Jew: OHJ, index). Luke is inventing tradition to fix them; and John, to fix Luke (e.g. John fabricates the entire Lazarus tradition to refute Luke’s parable of Lazarus: OHJ, Ch. 10.7). The evidence actually indicates this is all being created. The Gospels are not random collections of lore; they are deliberate and coherent constructs, top to bottom.
    Richard Carrier[12]
  5. Per Richard Carrier: "Gnosticism was never actually a thing. It was an invention of modern scholars; an interpretive category, it turns out, that refers to no actual thing that existed in antiquity. Or worse, when defined vaguely enough to actually encompass anything real, it refers to every sect of Christianity and thus distinguishes none of them. The word is therefore useless and ought to be abandoned.… You can read Westar’s Fall 2014 Christianity Seminar Report on Gnosticism yourself. There is also a whole issue on it in the Spring 2016 edition (pdf) of Forum."[26]



  1. Robertson 1946, p. 44.
  2. Schweitzer 1913, p. 512. "Das moderne Christentum muss von vornherein und immer mit der Möglichkeit einer eventuellen Preisgabe der Geschichtlichkeit Jesu rechnen."
  3. Schweitzer 2001, p. 402.
  4. Dykstra 2015, p. 29.
  5. Carrier 2020b.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Davies 2012.
  7. Price 2000, p. 15. "What one Jesus reconstruction leaves aside, the next takes up and makes its cornerstone. Jesus simply wears too many hats in the gospels—exorcist, healer, king, prophet, sage, rabbi, demigod, and so on. The Jesus Christ of the New Testament is a composite figure. Today's historical Jesus theories agree in recognizing that fact, but they part company on the question of which might be the original core, and which the secondary accretions."
  8. Godfrey, Neil (23 August 2018). "Just what do you mean... HISTORICAL JESUS?".  Vridar.
  9. Verenna 2012, p. 2. "One is left to wonder: is there no room left for doubt in the field of New Testament concerning the historicity of the figure of Jesus? Has the field become so static and immovable that to even doubt that Jesus lived is to warrant the label of insanity? And should academic freedom be sacrificed? Should the academy limit a critical position by intimidating and ridiculing those few scholars who do not believe Jesus existed historically into submitting to the consensus of the majority?"
  10. Price 2000, p. 17. "There may have been a Jesus on earth in the past, but the state of the evidence is so ambiguous that we can never be sure what this figure was like or, indeed, whether there was such a person."
  11. 11.0 11.1 Loftus, John (26 July 2021). "My Talk at the GCRR e-Conference on the Historical Jesus".  Debunking Christianity.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Carrier (31 July 2021). "The GCRR eConference on the Historical Jesus: A Retrospective".  Richard Carrier Blogs.
  13. Doherty 2009, pp. vii–viii.
  14. Lataster 2019, pp. 2–3.
  15. Lataster 2019, p. 57.
  16. Ehrman 2012, pp. 19, 348, n. 10.
  17. Goguel 1926.
  18. Carrier 2014a, p. 34. [NOW FORMATTED].
  19. Carrier 2014a, p. 52.
  20. Comment by Richard Carrier—20 December 2020—per Carrier 2020b
  21. 21.0 21.1 McCabe 1948, §. Jesus.
  22. Price 2010, p. 103, n. 5.
  23. Earl Doherty ap. Godfrey, Neil (2 April 2011). "Interview with Earl Doherty".  Vridar.
  24. "post-1030928 @ The Christ Myth Theory".  Internet Infidels Discussion Board.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Comment by Neil Godfrey—17 February 2021—per "A Response to Dr Sarah, Geeky Humanist, on the Jesus Question". Vridar. 26 November 2018. "Certain Christ Myth proponents (Couchoud, Doherty, Carrier) have proposed the celestial origin of the Christ (Jesus?) figure…
  26. Carrier, Richard (31 August 2020). "Gnosticism Didn't Exist (Say What Now?)".  Richard Carrier Blogs.
  27. 27.00 27.01 27.02 27.03 27.04 27.05 27.06 27.07 27.08 27.09 27.10 27.11 27.12 27.13 27.14 27.15 27.16 27.17 27.18 27.19 27.20 27.21 27.22 27.23 27.24 27.25 27.26 27.27 27.28 27.29 27.30 27.31 27.32 27.33 27.34 27.35 27.36 27.37 27.38 27.39 27.40 27.41 27.42 27.43 27.44 27.45 27.46 27.47 27.48 27.49 Humphreys, Kenneth (29 September 2016). "The End is Nigh – for Jesus, that is".  Jesus Never Existed.
  28. 28.00 28.01 28.02 28.03 28.04 28.05 28.06 28.07 28.08 28.09 28.10 28.11 28.12 28.13 28.14 28.15 28.16 28.17 28.18 28.19 28.20 28.21 28.22 28.23 28.24 28.25 28.26 28.27 28.28 28.29 28.30 28.31 28.32 28.33 28.34 Salm, René (2013). "A MYTHICISM TIMELINE".  Mythicist Papers.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 29.4 29.5 29.6 Carrier (1 July 2021). "Ehrman on Historicity Recap".  Richard Carrier Blogs. "…seventeen relevantly qualified experts now who concur mythicism is at least plausible."
  30. Avalos, Hector(7 June 2014), A Historical or Mythical Jesus? An Agnostic Viewpoint. Lecture given at the University of Arizona.
  31. 31.00 31.01 31.02 31.03 31.04 31.05 31.06 31.07 31.08 31.09 31.10 31.11 31.12 31.13 "List of Christ myth theory proponents".  Wikipedia. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  32. Barker 2008, p. 253.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 33.6 33.7 33.8 33.9 Vidani, Peter (14 July 2014). "Over 40 Pages of books/works by scholars, historians, academics, professors, philosophers, and intellectuals who have helped discover and document that jesus was a fictional character and christian claims about him are fraud".  The jesus Birther Movement (jBM).
  34. Barnes 1929, pp. 390–391, §. Was Jesus an Historic Figure?.
  35. Bultmann 1926, p. 10. "[W]ir vom Leben und von der Persönlichkeit Jesu so gut wie nichts mehr wissen können, da die christlichen Quellen sich dafür nicht interessiert haben, außerdem sehr fragmentarisch und von der Legende überwuchert sind, und da andere Quellen über Jesus nicht existieren."
  36. Bultmann 1934, p. 8.
  37. Cain, Benjamin (2 June 2020). "Assessing the Christ Myth Theory".  Medium.
  38. Cain, Benjamin (21 June 2020). "Clarifying and Debating the Christ Myth Theory".  Medium.
  39. Carrier 2014b.
  40. David Chumney ap.Tarico, Valerie (3 May 2017). "Fabricating Jesus — An Interview with Former Minister David Chumney".  AwayPoint.
  41. Chumney 2017.
  42. BIO
  43. "Jesus Mythicism & the Future of Religion - Interview with Godless Engineer". YouTube. Team Futurism. Nov 4, 2022. "Hosted by journalist Peter Clarke"
  44. Durant & Durant 1944, p. 558.
  45. Dykstra, Tom (1 December 2012). "Did Jesus Exist?–-Review of Bart Ehrman’s New Book".  Mandatory for Decent Human Life. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
  46. Ehrman 2012, Ch. 6 §. The Gospels Contain Nonhistorical Materials.
  47. Fisher 1956, pp. 258–259.
  48. Frazer 1913, p. 412. Image of p. 412 at Google Books
  49. "C.H.R.E.S.T.U.S.".
  50. "Godless Engineering".
  51. "Godless Engineer".  YouTube. John Gleason.
  52. Gleason, John (9 September 2021). "Can Questioning Christianity Prove Jesus Existed? || Did Jesus Exist".  YouTube. Godless Engineer. [N.B. as said with an Alabama accent]
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  54. Hoffmann, R. Joseph (2009). "Threnody: Rethinking the Thinking behind The Jesus Project". Archived from the original on 9 October 2009.  The Bible and Interpretation.
  55. Kneeland & Wyttenbach 1831, p. 174.
  56. Noll 2012.
  57. Lataster 2016b. "All caps §. Association with shouting"Wikipedia is the correct case and intention.
  58. Carrier (27 November 2017). "For the Existence of Jesus, Is the Principle of Contamination Invalid? Cavin & Colombetti vs. Law".  Richard Carrier Blogs.
  59. Law 2011, §. The Consensus View.
  60. Comment by John W. Loftus—12 January 2023—per "I had to say what I think of Jesus Mythicism". Pharyngula. 25 December 2022
  61. Nothnagle, Peter (31 March 2021) [2016]. "Jesus Fact or Fiction WEIT version.pdf". p. 26.  Google Docs
  62. "Born in the Second Century : Chris Palmero: Audible Books & Originals". 
  63. Price 2018.
  64. Comment by R. G. Price—29 October 2019—per Godfrey, Neil (27 October 2019). "Review part 10: Questioning the Historicity of Jesus / Lataster (Conclusion)".  Vridar.
  65. Price 2011, p. 425, §. Do You "No" Jesus?.
  66. Remsburg 1909, p. 443.
  67. Remsburg 1909, p. 24.
  68. Robertson 1946, p. 107.
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  72. Schweitzer 2001, p. 393.
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  75. Thompson 2005.
  76. Comment by Thomas L. Thompson—10 July 2012—per "Is This Not the Carpenter’s Son? | A Response to Bart Ehrman". The Bible and Interpretation. July 2012.
  77. Wells 2009, pp. 14–15.
  78. Zindler 1998.
  79. Ackerman 2005, p. 72.
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  81. Bauer 1842, p. 3:308. "Die Frage, mit der sich unsere Zeit so viel beschäftigt hat ob nämlich Dieser, ob Jesus der historische Christus sey, haben wir damit beantwortet dass wir zeigten, dass Alles, was der historische Christus ist, was von ihm gesagt wird, was wir von ihm wissen, der Welt der Vorstellung und zwar der christlichen Vorstellung angehört, also auch mit einem Menschen, der der wirklichen Welt angehört Nichts zu thun hat. Die Frage ist damit beantwortet, dass sie für alle Zukunft gestrichen ist. (Image of Title page & p. 308 at Google Books)"
  82. Kalthoff 1907, p. 28.
  83. Schweitzer 1910, pp. 3–4.
  84. Remsburg 1909, p. 9.
  85. Price, Robert M. (1997). "Christ a Fiction".  Internet Infidels.
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  88. Akenson 2001, p. 575.
  89. Arnal 2015, pp. 75–76.
  90. Brodie 2012, p. 229, epilogue: Bart D. Ehrman's 'Did Jesus Exist?'.
  91. Carrier 2012.
  92. Carrier (31 July 2020). "Antonio Piñero: Raving Historicist".  Richard Carrier Blogs.
  93. Dykstra 2015, pp. 29–30.
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  102. Lataster 2016a, p. 184.
  103. Lockwood 2019, p. 400, §. Miscellaneous Concluding Remarks.
  104. Meggitt 2019, p. 458.
  105. Richard C. Miller (2021). "Foreword". eds John W. Loftus, Robert M. Price. Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist?. Hypatia Press. “The essays contained within this anthology draw their readers out on a provocative adventure, a quest certain to yield many treasures. Yet, this quest is altogether different than that described by Albert Schweitzer in his landmark work The Quest of the Historical Jesus over a century ago. Despite the seeming nobility, such an academic pilgrimage to uncover the originary kernel of the Gospels, now having played out for decades in the halls of academia, has proven little more than a fool’s errand. We are now faced with the obvious: these cultic tales are not and were never given as historiographical “footage” of live first-century events in time and space.”
  106. Pfoh 2012, pp. 80–81.
  107. Price 2003, p. 351.
  108. Price, Robert M. (2018). "Foreword" ap. R. G. Price 2018, p. ix.
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  112. Verenna 2012.
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  115. Carrier 2020b, n. 5.
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  117. Meggitt 2019, p. 447.
  118. Mason, Steve. "Sources that Mention Jesus from Outside the Circles of Christ-Followers". p. 1.
  119. Carrier (26 April 2018). "Historicity Big and Small: How Historians Try to Rescue Jesus".  Richard Carrier Blogs.
  120. Lataster 2019, p. 29.
  121. Martijn Linssen (20 December 2022). "Richard Carrier is silent about Marcion".