Talk:Jesus myth theory

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New Article: Modern Mythicism[edit]

I. Gospel Skepticism - Thomas L. Thompson

  • Robert M. Price
  • Thomas L. Brodie
  • Randel Helms
  • Michael Vines
  • Dennis R. MacDonald

II. Semi-Mythicism (Christ Mythicism): Plausible alternative for the origin of an historical Jesus and Christianity

  • G. A. Wells

III. Neo-Mythicism: Plausible alternative for the origin of an ahistorical Jesus and Christianity - Richard Carrier

  • Kurt Noll

IV. Atrocious methods used by mainstream Biblical historians - Raphael Lataster

  • Neil Godfrey
  • Tim Widowfield
  • Frank Zindler
  • Richard Carrier
  • Tom Dykstra
  • Emanuel Pfoh
  • René Salm (talk) 01:39, 27 February 2017 (UTC) & 15:41, 27 February 2017 (UTC) & 17:37, 8 March 2017 (UTC)

Gospel Skepticism existed long before Thomas L. Thompson. Sir James George Frazer and before him David Strauss come to mind. Furthermore, a new article would not address the fact people who accepted Jesus existed as a flesh and blood person (Frazer and Strauss were called "mystists")--BruceGrubb (talk) 13:59, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
I am thinking that it should be more of a current report along the lines of the following reports:
With the Jesus myth theory and Evidence for the historical existence of Jesus Christ articles as reference sources. - (talk) 15:41, 27 February 2017 (UTC)
The only issue is that most (but not all) Modern Mythicism borrows heavily from older theories and premises. For example Remsburg was arguing against the Gospel Jesus rather then a flash and blood man and concluded that there was a man behind the myth but the Gospels and Paul told use nothing about that man (other then he existed). This "Christ Myth" (Remburg identifies it as such) is becoming (or has become depending on where you draw the line) mainstream.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:57, 28 February 2017 (UTC


  • A Semi-Mythicism section and Notes section could address the interaction of previous/legacy theories and premises.
  • Neo-Mythicism begins with Couchoud: "[Per the Writings of Paul-Louis Couchoud] The controversy as to the historical existence of Jesus ..appeared [in France] under a new form, entirely distinct from the theories of Drews, J. M. Robertson, and W. B. Smith. It is of some interest to describe this new aspect of the thesis that the history of Jesus is a myth, and to try to explain the genesis of the contention." [Goguel, Maurice (April 1926). "Recent French Discussion of the Historical Existence of Jesus Christ". Harvard Theological Review 19 (02): 115. ]
  • Content from the following talks could also be incorporated:

Per Aaron Adair,
"Some time back, for my local Secular Student Alliance (SSA) group, I gave a talk about what we can know about the historical Jesus, and perhaps he was originally a non-historical figure made flesh. This proposition is not the least bit popular among academics, let alone Evangelicals, but it isn’t necessarily crazy either. You will find some comparing it to Holocaust denial or creationism, but the evidence that Jesus existed is nowhere near as strong as it is for evolution or the Nazi-led Holocaust. There is significant evidence for Jesus, prima facie, but things get hairy when you look again."

"The basic points: the only independent sources we have about the life of Jesus are Christian, there is only one such source (the Gospel of Mark), and it is written in a way that is more fiction than anything else. There are also difficulties in understanding how a Galilean Jew went from nice bloke to god-made-flesh very early on as seen in the letters of Paul, and why the first Christians who followed a Roman criminal were not harassed by the pagan authorities early on as attested by Christian sources (namely, Acts). There is also the weird issue of why there were many that believed Jesus lived and died a century earlier than is the standard chronology; how did that happen? After these points, I get into the most plausible Jesus myth hypothesis (there are plenty of crappy ones) which can answer these problems, though it has its own hurdles."

Per Peter Nothnagle,
"The too-long, didn’t-read version: When lined up in the order in which they were composed, the accounts of the life and works of Jesus reveal that he was originally worshipped as a celestial being who never had a body, never had a ministry or disciples, and never appeared in person to anyone. Later writings brought him “down to earth” in physical form, adding increasingly fantastic story elements as time went on, in tales which were carefully set in a time and locale conveniently inaccessible to verification. While Christian writings all show signs of continual reworking as the theology evolved (an activity that continues to this day!), there are no independent accounts of Jesus or any of his supposed disciples from the entire century during which the religion supposedly began."

"I conclude that the figure of Jesus was invented by one faction in a diverse religious landscape in an effort to create an “apostolic succession” of authority – ‘our priests were taught by priests that were taught by followers of Jesus Christ himself, in person’. But even if I’m completely wrong about that, it is undeniable that the only evidence that exists for a living, breathing, walking, talking Jesus is weak, contradictory, or simply fraudulent. Therefore no one can be justified in believing that such a person existed." (talk) 17:37, 8 March 2017 (UTC)

Perhaps I am missing something but I don't see how this really differs from the two related but also parallel lines of thought formed by Constantin-François Volney and Charles François Dupuis. I noticed that Couchoud covers some of the same area as Drews and Remsburg:
"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." - Remsburg, The Christ (1909)
"If in spite of this any one thinks that besides the latter a Jesus also cannot be dispensed with; but we know nothing of Jesus. Even in the representations of historical theology, he is scarcely more than the shadow of a shadow. Consequently it is self-deceit to make the figure of this 'unique' and 'mighty' personality, to which a man may believe he must on historical grounds hold fast, the central point of religious consciousness." (Drews, Arthur (1910) The Christ Myth)
"Jesus is an unknown historical figure. It is possible that he may have lived, since millions of people have lived without leaving a trace. It is not enough to declare 'We know nothing about Jesus, except that he existed'. On the contrary, we must boldly assert that 'We do not know anything about him, not even whether he existed'. - Couchoud, The Enigma of Jesus (1923)
Am I missing something obvious here?--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:27, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
Per Earl Doherty, "It was at the opening of the 20th century that the first serious presentations of the Jesus Myth theory appeared. The earliest efforts by such as Robertson, Drews, Jensen and Smith were, from a modern point of view, less than perfect, lacking a comprehensive explanation for all aspects of the issue. Pre-Christian cults, astral religions, obscure parallels with foreign cultures, even the epic of Gilgamesh, went into a somewhat hodge-podge mix; many of them didn’t seem to know quite what to do with Paul. It wasn’t until the 1920s that Paul-Louis Couchoud in France offered a more coherent scenario, identifying Christ in the eyes of Paul as a spiritual being. (While not relying upon him, I would trace my type of thinking back to Couchoud, rather than the more recent G. A. Wells who, in my opinion, misread Paul’s understanding of Christ.)" [ref. Earl Doherty’s forerunner? Paul-Louis Couchoud and the birth of Christ by Neil Godfrey 2011-12-15] - (talk) 22:24, 8 March 2017 (UTC)
Per Couchoud, "[Jesus as Presented by Paul] A divine Being, in humility without parallel, assumes the human condition. He is crucified by supernatural agents, the Princes of this Age, who are, in Paul's language, Satan and his acolytes. ...The crucifixion, as presented by Paul, is that of a super natural being executed by beings who are also supernatural."
First published: "The Historicity of Jesus" in The Hibbert Journal 37, (1938). p.193-214
Couchoud, Paul Louis (1939). "The Historicity of Jesus". The Creation of Christ: An Outline of the Beginnings of Christianity ; Tr. by C. Bradlaugh Bonner. 2. Watts. p. 438.  - (talk) 04:33, 9 March 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Ok, Couchoud tried gave the disjointed mess called "Christ Myth" a focus rather then the shot gun approach (hope something...anything hits) but as with many things the pieces were already there:

"The corporeal existence of the Christ of the Evangelists receives slight confirmation in the writings of Paul. His Christ was not the incarnate Word of John, nor the demi-god of Matthew and Luke. Of the immaculate conception of Jesus he knew nothing. To him Christ was the son of God in a spiritual rather than in a physical sense. ...The Christ that Paul saw in a vision was a spiritual being—an apparition; and this appearance he considers of exactly the same character as the post mortem appearances of Christ to his disciples." - Remsburg The Christ (1909)

[Per the Writings of Paul-Louis Couchoud] The controversy as to the historical existence of Jesus ..appeared [in France] under a new form, entirely distinct from the theories of Drews, J. M. Robertson, and W. B. Smith. It is of some interest to describe this new aspect of the thesis that the history of Jesus is a myth, and to try to explain the genesis of the contention. - Goguel, Maurice (April 1926). "Recent French Discussion of the Historical Existence of Jesus Christ". Harvard Theological Review 19 (02): 115. DOI:10.1017/S001781600000763X

So did Couchoud question the man himself or the history presented of that man?--BruceGrubb (talk) 20:03, 10 March 2017 (UTC).

"[Per Paul-Louis Couchoud] The salient fact about Jesus that he is a God. Paul, the earliest extant Christian author (eight of whose reputed epistles Couchoud regards as basically genuine, though much edited and interpolated), treats Jesus as God." [Robertson, Archibald (1946). Jesus: Myth or History?. London: Watts & Co. p. 58. ]
Couchoud, Doherty, and Carrier share the same viewpoint that the Pauline epistles are positive evidence that Jesus was originally a god, who was later historicized. Per Goguel, this viewpoint should be labelled as "Neo-Mythicism". - (talk) 23:00, 10 March 2017 (UTC)
The term "Neo-Mythicism" is used in the 1890s and was (in some works) connected with Neo-Kantism which goes back to Immanuel Kant and was formalized in Arthur Schopenhauer's critique The World as Will and Representation (1818). More over looking for "Neo-Mythicism" and "Christ myth" got me a grand total of one work. Now Neo-Mysticism and "Christ myth" was a little better result but not by much. Also I had to weed out an results for "Neo-Mysticism" in this search. This is less then ideal.--BruceGrubb (talk) 22:20, 11 March 2017 (UTC)
The label, be it: "Jesus Neo-Mythicism", "Celestial-Jesus Neo-Mythicism" or "Couchoud, Doherty, Carrier Mythicism" is secondary to the point that the Couchoud, Doherty, Carrier viewpoint is radically distinct as attested by Goguel and Doherty. And in regards to "Modern Mythicism", it is is the strongest case for Jesus ahistoricity (with positive evidence given in support) thus it should be presented as such in a new article. The historical nuance and problems of terminology are already covered in the article Jesus myth theory and should be noted as a reference for elaboration of the problem. - (talk) 00:15, 12 March 2017 (UTC)

Creative Commons Attribution[edit]

Per, Neil Godfrey's work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Does that mean that Godfrey's content that may appropriate for an article may be cut and pasted with proper attribution ? - (talk) 01:49, 10 March 2017 (UTC)

Reversing the question[edit]

What was the cultural-political climate in Judea 'during the second half of the reign of Tiberius'? How many 'stand in the street "repent now or else" street preachers/blockers of the footpaths, conventional preachers, and anti-'Roman imperialism' preachers and activists were there?

To what extent does the 'historicity' section in Wikipedia's article on Robin Hood apply to Jesus?

As another example of material jumping from fiction to myth [1]. (talk) 16:01, 3 March 2017 (UTC)

IMO any conclusion of a legendary Jesus is untenable. Since legendary stories deform real facts, as R. M. Price writes, "I realized, after studying much previous research on the question [of Jesus], that virtually every story in the gospels and Acts can be shown to be very likely a Christian rewrite of material from the Septuagint, Homer, Euripides' Bacchae, and Josephus. ...A literary origin is always to be preferred to an historical one in such a case. And that is the choice we have to make in virtually every case of New Testament narrative. [...] There may once have been an historical Jesus, but for us there is one no longer. If he existed, he is forever lost behind the stained glass curtain of holy myth. At least that's the current state of the evidence as I see it." - (talk) 00:03, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
The problem is that "legendary" has the same definition problem "myth" does; it doesn't that the stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood have varied from being called myths to being called legends. The definition of "A legend is presumed to have some basis in historical fact and tends to mention real people or events." (Legend vs. Myth) doesn't help as the Gospels mention real people and real places. Personally I think Robertson's idea of Jesus being a composite character is the most likely; it would go a long way to explaining why you have stories of Jesus living outside the normally accepted c6 BC - c36 CE period.--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:19, 12 March 2017 (UTC)
Robert M Price - The Bible Geek Podcast 17-006 (Tuesday, February 14th 2017, 57m) - What constitutes a historic Jesus @ time 01:10 - (talk) 00:07, 14 March 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Price's "For even if we trace Christianity back to Jesus ben Pandera or an Essene Teacher of Righteousness in the first century BCE, we still have a historical Jesus." appears in the Evidence for the historical existence of Jesus Christ and is the reference for the "Jesus was historical but lived around 100 BCE." point in this article.--BruceGrubb (talk) 13:20, 18 March 2017 (UTC)

IMO this is Price rejecting semi-mythicism as Jesus ahistoricity theory (mythicism) and rightly noting it as dissident historicity theory. - (talk) 16:14, 18 March 2017 (UTC)
"Scholars such as Bruuno Bauer, Arthur Drews, and G.A. Wells have argued that the Jesus tradition is virtually--perhaps entirely--fictional in nature (i.e, "legendary" as we are using the term)" (sic) - Eddy-Boyd (2007)
I might add that Carrier puts G.A. Wells in the ahistoricity camp while as per above Eddy-Boyd put him in the Christ Myth camp. More over Eddy-Boyd put Price's Jesus Agnosticism into this category as well.
If that wasn't enough Eddy-Boyd expressly includes Wells' Jesus Legend and Jesus Myth as examples of this...despite both works accepting that there was a historical Jesus behind the Gospel accounts (Wells actual argument was that the account was altered to fit Paul's vision and Jesus actually lived to an old age and died in obscurity)
So the term "legendary" is totally useless as it has entered into the same Humpy Dumpty Through the Looking Glass land that the term Christ Myth as been sitting in for more then a century.--BruceGrubb (talk) 20:01, 20 March 2017 (UTC)
The opinion of the overwhelming majority of secular historians (as in all of them, and I'm talking about real scholars with an at least adequate publishing history or position at an academic institution) is that Jesus was historical -- I'm seeing a bunch of nonsense theories in this talk page. Robert Price is obviously a lunatic. Regarding GA Wells, the renowned scholar David Aikman notes "Wells is not a New Testament specialist at all but a professor of German and a former chairman of the Rationalist Press Association. He has written several books rejecting the historicity of Jesus, a position almost no New Testament scholar endorses, even those who are radically opposed to Christianity."
Unsurprisingly though, G.A. Wells is not completely stupid like the other mythicists (Carrier, Doherty, Price), and so in the last some years he has actually admitted Jesus did exist, but that the NT writings are too unreliable to particularly know anything about him. Price was a baby about it and claimed that G.A. Wells was still in some way a sort of mythicist. Anyways, not even Wells accepts mythicism anymore, and so the current RationalWiki article needs to be updated. It either must completely remove his name from the page, or make it enormously clear he has recently rejected mythicism.Korvexman (talk) 23:28, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
While I agree there was a kernel of truth on Christ, it's very difficult to take seriously the gospels when there're so many discrepancies between them and his physical aspect is nowhere described -they do not seem more reliable than the versions of, say, the Hercules myth.
Just my two cents. --Panzerfaust (talk) 07:54, 19 June 2017 (UTC)
I don't how you can say Carrier is "completely stupid" when he is the only person to put together a peer reviewed book on the matter and even then he doesn't say that is a slam dunk that Jesus didn't exist just that the odds taht Jesus existed as a human being are, at best, 1 in 3. Also, as pointed out in the article itself and in previous parts of this talk page it wasn't just Price who called G.A. Wells a mythist after he said there was a Jesus behind the Gospels but Eddy-Boyd and Earl Doherty as well. In fact, Van Voorst and Carrier seem to be the only ones who realized that Grant wasn't in the Jesus didn't exist at all part of the Jesus myth camp and Carrier was the only one to argue Grant had never been in that part of the mythist camp to being with.--BruceGrubb (talk) 15:10, 22 June 2017 (UTC)
Goodpost.gif Reverend Black Percy (talk) 13:53, 21 July 2017 (UTC)


What is the impression this article creates exactly? What I get is that Jesus Myth is a small but valid theory held by a number of new testament scholars, and perhaps one day it will be accepted into the mainstream. The reality is that no new testament scholars today at accredited institutions follow it. None. As the articles 3rd citation states "among new testament scholars and historians, the theory of Jesus' nonexistence remains effectively dead as a scholarly question." And the article uses this citation to back up the line "It has been accepted by some academics." No really.

Reading through the article, does one get the impression that Hector Avalos and Bart Ehrman both follow Jesus Myth theories to some extent? Yes. Check out this quote from the article: ""In simpler terms, the historical Jesus did not exist. Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity"[28] (Ehrman's position)" But that isn't Ehrman's position at all. That's Ehrman's definition of Jesus Myth theories, from a book in which he debunks Jesus Myth theories. Here's another Ehrman quote: "The evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ is overwhelming when looked at through the objective lens of the historian." (actually Ehrman's position)

I'm not going to go into the details of the arguments for and against the actual theory. As with any crackpot conspiracy there will be people who can argue it to death and think they have the answers despite no education in the topic. But what can surely be improved regardless is the peripheral presentation of this theory as being in any way academic. There should be a clear distinction between experts (Robert Price, Richard Carrier) and non-experts (GA Wells, RG Price), the degree to which it has been debated historically should be clear (debated a lot in the early 20th century, not debated at all today), and most importantly, experts who are featured in the article like Ehrman and Avalos should not be misrepresented or implied to believe this crap.Araka (talk) 08:11, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

  • Goodpost.gif Richard Carrier and Robert M Price are indeed trustworthy experts (as is Ehrman). In short, the general list of crap scholars among faith-driven historicists is literally just as long as is the equivalent list of cranky mythicists.
  • Both this article and the article on the historical Jesus have grown convoluted to the point of outright detriment, and both of them really ought to be nuked and re-written from the ground up with the focus of invalidating crank claims, rather than making its own claims (as is the current case), because we are not a wiki an encyclopedia. And — for reasons of acute readability, if nothing else — not just written by User:BruceGrubb alone this time. Literally all we're waiting for now is someone who would bother doing this (read: start from scratch in a sandbox) Reverend Black Percy (talk) 12:36, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
I would like to point out the convolutedness is due the "crank claims" in the talk pages and on the internet. Besides as Carrier himself states the majority of Jesus myth theories are in convoluted messes that require mammoth conspiracies or connections long proven to be nonsense to work. They are effectively self made strawmen thanks to how awful they are.
As far that "we are not a wiki" comment; perhaps you forgot that this is Rationalwiki. Heck, wikipedia itself states "RationalWiki (RW) is a wiki whose stated aims are to critique and challenge pseudoscience and the anti-science movement, explore authoritarianism and fundamentalism, and analyze how these subjects are handled in the media." and "A wiki (/ˈwɪki/ is a website on which users collaboratively modify content and structure directly from the web browser." What off the wall definitions are you using?
Regarding Ehrman he points out that a Jesus who existed (ie was historical) but didn't found Christianity would fall into the "mythical" category. So a Jesus who actually preached a form of Judaism that became Christianity a while after his death would be a "mythical" Jesus (Remsburg's position). He comes off as trying to eat his cake and have it too.--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:49, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
You're absolutely right, regarding my phrasing. We are a wiki. What I meant to say is: we are not a -pedia (read: encyclopedia). As such, correcting "wiki" for "encyclopedia" in my above comment, my point stands perfectly well (as has been linked previous already).
Regarding Ehrman — I would agree with you that Ehrman is, in a sense, the historicist that's done the most for the mythicist cause. Carrier and Price even discuss this fact in the beginning of this lecture. The guys joke that Ehrman's a bit of an unwitting mythicist or something to that effect. Said in all humor though, of course — they actually respect Ehrmans' position a lot. Carrier and Price, like Ehrman, are real scholars of quality. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 13:51, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I agree that both article are way too long but these points keep coming up in the literature; the inconstant use of "Christ Myth " or "historical Jesus" case in point be it 1900 or 2000. It is, to put it simply, an Alice In Wonderland via the Looking Glass with Humpty Dumpty overdosing on the caterpillar's hookah mess. What the terms even meam varies from author to author. People who did not throw Jesus the man out with Jesus the demigod bathwater (Frazier, Drews, Remsburg, G.A. Wells, etc) have been called "mythists". The armchair brigades both sides have is certainly no help as they both provided an insane amount of nonsense turning both sides into strawmen, and some of the experts are little better.--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:35, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

Josephus DOES mention Jesus[edit]

You can debate whether or not Jesus was a larger than life character or not, but he most likely existed. This article by Atheist Historian Tim O'Neill pretty much destroys the argument the Jesus Ben Damneus argument: — Unsigned, by: Reg321 / talk / contribs 23:40, 6 January 2018 (UTC)

The article is a rambling mess and avoids the a key problem with the James reference: why would a piece which was to push the idea of Vespasian being the Christ only use the term in reference to someone else? Furthermore, as pointed out in the Josephus article, the James piece has logistic problems. The biggest is for centuries it was assumed that James brother of the Lord died c69 CE some seven years after the James in Josephus was dead and gone. More over there is "The epistle in which the same Clement, writing to James the Lord's brother, informs him of the death of Peter, and that he had left him his successor in his chair and teaching..." Now Peter is thought to died no earlier then 64 CE and possibly as late as 67 CE some two years after the James in Josephus was dead and gone.--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:55, 25 January 2018 (UTC)