Talk:Jesus myth theory

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This Christianity related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


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r/atheism historical Jesus FAQ[edit]

Just FYI, if anybody is interested. --Dbz (talk) 19:57, 4 September 2019 (UTC)

Is this theory fringe?[edit]

Wikipedia at least says so. I don't know anything about the subject, but I think this article pmight give too much credit to an idea that was perhaps discarted for now. GeeJayK (talk) 16:36, 14 March 2021 (UTC)

Please read §. "Historicity is the consensus only by assumption".
NB: none of the following scholars:
  • Maurice Casey
  • Michael Grant (classicist)
  • Bart D. Ehrman
  • Chris Keith
  • William E. Arnal
  • Daniel Gullotta
  • Robert E. Van Voorst
have produced a peer reviewed defense of the historicity of Jesus that was published by a respected academic press.
Can you cite any contemporary "secular" scholar that has written a peer reviewed defense of "The Historicity of Jesus" that was published by a respected academic press?
Gullotta clearly agrees with Ehrman—whom he quotes—that "bona fide" scholars comprise a minority view.
  • Gullotta, Daniel N. (2017). "On Richard Carrier's Doubts: A Response to Richard Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt". Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 15 (2–3): 310–346 (314). doiWikipedia:10.1163/17455197-01502009.  [NOW BOLDED]:

    Even Ehrman concedes that there are ‘a couple of bona fide scholars . . . Their books may not be known to most of the general public interested in questions related to Jesus, the Gospels, or the early Christian church, but they do occupy a noteworthy niche as a (very) small but (often) loud minority voice’. [Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist?, p. 3.]

--Dbz (talk) 03:10, 15 March 2021 (UTC)
As I said, I don't know anything about the subject and I'm not a Christian at all. I'm not saying the theory is wrong. At all. What I'm asking is if this theory isn't fringe. If it's not, why do you believe that Wikipedia says so? That's an honest question. Also, the attempt to explain the unpopularity of the theory with the Shill gambit part of the article should be removed in my opinion. GeeJayK (talk) 03:47, 15 March 2021 (UTC)


the Shill gambit part of the article —User:GeeJayK

Please identify by section heading the specific content that you feel is appealing to the "Shill Gambit". --Dbz (talk) 05:19, 15 March 2021 (UTC)

And here in August 4, 2021 we are still waiting.--BruceGrubb (talk) 01:27, 5 August 2021 (UTC)
October 1, 2021 and we got nothing. Conclusion there is no "Shill Gambit".--BruceGrubb (talk) 19:18, 1 October 2021 (UTC)
The shill gambit/Galileo gambit/Appeal to the minority is quite clear, you can see how the article basically revolves on "hey, the mainstream is wrong, we are the good guys, they are evil!". See, Bruce, I have a family, which means I don't have time to be 247 on the Internet. I still intend to Afd this article soon. Considering how it's very hard to engage with you and Dbz it's better than discuss in the talk page. GeeJayK (talk) 19:54, 1 October 2021 (UTC)
That is your option and not evidence of a shill gambit. Remember this is rationalwiki and your conclusion is not supported by the article (Sir James George Frazer is in the minority and his view is not mainstream?! Are you serious?!). AfD is not some magical "I don't know how to properly challenge this article on the talk pages' hammer. You had six months to produce something, anything to support your claim. No actual evidence of this supposed bias has been produce and when called on it you give some flimsy excuse (anyone can tweak User contributions to see the activity of any user).--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:28, 2 October 2021 (UTC)
See, Bruce, this is what I'm talking about when I mentioned engaging with you (and I'm not the first one that believes you often engage in batd-faith). I didn't "have" six months to come up with something, first because I have to obligation to do so, second because I have work and a family, which means, editing anything that takes more than 5 minutes is not an option. I didn't say the article uses shill gambit, I said Dbz used this, although some passages of the article suggest it. I don't know why you're so obsessed with a single word. My main criticism here is that the theory is fringe and used lots of deprecated sources, the main one, this Carrier guy, being a highschool teacher. 5 minutes on the Google suggest that yes, he's on the same level as those guys that made Zeitgeist. You're just talking about a subject that wasn't even in my original post. I don't care about what one single guy that died 80 years ago (hardly a good source for modern research for the same reason we don't use Keynes on Economics, except for a few fringe lunatics). Point here are reliable sources, not whining about how the mainstream is evil. Besides, the article is barely unreadable with all those quotes (at least 90) poping up after three sentences. GeeJayK (talk) 13:32, 2 October 2021 (UTC)
Also, regarding Afd, don't worry. I don't think the page will be deleted in case I Afd it. But at least maybe people will pay more attention to this pet project of yours and might at least add a Wikify this ugly article a bit. GeeJayK (talk) 13:38, 2 October 2021 (UTC)

Some Observations[edit]

This subcategory is because the above has become way to long to go through in a reasonable period of time.

So, you who don't have that much time out would effectively waste other people's other people with a move you know will fail just so this article gets more eyeballs. I have already taken the more prudent step and asked a fellow admin to look at this article because and I quote " I honestly need a new pair of eyes on the article. Yes, there is a lot of stuff there that could be daughtered out (some advice there would be welcome as I an kind of overwhelmed so to where to even start)". As for your other points I will address those accordingly,

1. " I didn't say the article uses shill gambit": You clearly did. Here is the post in question as it appears

"Also, the attempt to explain the unpopularity of the theory with the Shill gambit part of the article should be removed in my opinion. GeeJayK (talk) 03:47, 15 March 2021 (UTC)"

2. "the main one, this Carrier guy, being a highschool teacher ": Unless you are the "highschool teacher" this is blatant Ad hominem and factually wrong. Richard Carrier's vita is public and you can clearly see Carrier has a doctorate in Ancient History awarded Oct 2008 and the main work from him I consider relevant is the peer reviewed On the Historicity of Jesus and there Carrier even admits that there is a 1 in 3 (33.33..%) chance he is wrong.
3. Zeitgeist". That...thing is labeled as "pseudoscholarl" which is a polite way, at least IMHO, of saying "it's garbage". Heck, even the Evidence for the historical existence of Jesus Christ article states "If you want to see just how bad Christ Mythism can get (and want to kill a few brain cells in the bargain) watch Zeitgeist; everything in that thing is wrong and is the poster child of bad Christ Myth." And I am the one who wrote that part of that page!
4. As for "hey, the mainstream is wrong, we are the good guys, they are evil!" go and read the "The historical Jesus spectrum or color me completely confused" section and the "Arguing the wrong Jesus and the Jesus myth" right after it so you can understand that some versions of the Jesus myth are mainstream.

Do I agree the article has become somewhat of a meandering mess? Yes. But the solution is to try and daughter out the ramblely pieces or at least point out "section <whatever> has a problem" so other editors can fix it as even with my combination of High functional Autism w ADHD I am overwhelmed without some direction as where to begin.--BruceGrubb (talk) 01:54, 3 October 2021 (UTC)=


What I'm asking is if this theory isn't fringe. If it's not, why do you believe that Wikipedia says so? —User:GeeJayK
  • The examination of the issue of Jesus’ historicity by incorporating a direct and probabilistic (and also logically exhaustive) comparative analysis of the two (historicity v. ahistoricity) plausible hypotheses—is not fringe, it is a minority view. Philip R. DaviesWikipedia held that the ahistoricity viewpoint should be accepted as plausibile in NT studies.
  • Bias in Wikipedia is a known issue.

--Dbz (talk) 06:35, 15 March 2021 (UTC)

"The historical Jesus spectrum or color me completely confused" section shows the main issue is that the very meaning of Christ myth theory (Jesus myth theory) is all over the place. The Christ Myth Theory article goes into many of the definitions used over the years which the last one being the one that shows the issue:
  • Jesus actually existed "but had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity" In other words Jesus either took over an already existing Christian movement or his movement was turned into Christianity after he died. Michael O. Wise, points to a messiah in 72 BCE while Israel Knohl points to a messiah who died 4 BCE who could have left movements in their wake that Jesus directed into what became Christianity by the 2nd century.
This is the definition of Jesus Myth Theory that scares the pro historical Jesus brigade as they conflate "Jesus existed" with "Gospel stories are largely true".--BruceGrubb (talk) 15:37, 29 April 2021 (UTC)

Richard Carrier quote in the lede of this article[edit]

Most RationalWikia editors have a low opinion of Richard Carrier's scholarship as do most of the scholars in his field. Look at the posts at: Talk:Evidence for the historical existence of Jesus Christ.

So why is Richard Carrier prominently quoted in the lede of the article? It doesn't make sense. LinuxLover (talk) 04:47, 7 December 2021 (UTC)

I'd also like to point out that Carrier citations are more prevalent in this article than they are in "Evidence for the historical existence of Jesus". His work comprises about 25% of all the citations. There's also a fair bit of Lataster, who is only slightly more respected than Carrier (that is to say, not much).
To be fair, as Carrier seems to be the go-to person nowadays for Jesus mythicism, it's somewhat more understandable considering that's the entire purview of the article. That being said, just because we have an article on a fringe viewpoint (such as Kennedy assassination of 9/11 conspiracy theories) doesn't mean we should endorse them in defiance of the evidence.
I haven't read the entire article yet, but I've already seen a problematic trend from what I have read. Friedman (talk) 14:35, 7 December 2021 (UTC)
I've also noticed that there's a very large section listings 28 rebuttals to Bart Ehrman's book "Did Jesus Exist?" in the Further Reading section, Ehrman being a very notable critic of Carrier and the quality of his scholarship. No other author receives such a dubious honor. As well, under the Further Reading section titled Logical Arguments, four of the five listed sources are Carrier. Friedman (talk) 14:53, 7 December 2021 (UTC)
Agree with removal. Leaving aside the blathery, filibustery nature of the quote, in an article about a debate, the lead quote shouldn't be one that asserts on one side or the other. - Immigrant laborer (talk) 16:24, 7 December 2021 (UTC)
Extract the text from the large bubble in the third panel here? - Immigrant laborer (talk) 16:32, 7 December 2021 (UTC)
Lol, one of my favorite Bible stories. Friedman (talk) 00:02, 8 December 2021 (UTC)


Minor point, but can we agree to scrap the citation for Citizendium? I mean... it's Citizendium. Friedman (talk) 19:30, 8 December 2021 (UTC)

Criticism of Ehrman[edit]

Can I just point out that this article, which, I assume, is supposed to take an objective view of the issue, has an entire reference section for rebuttals of Bart Ehrman's (one of the leading historical Jesus supporters) book? It's literally titled "Responses to Bart Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist?" and there are 28 works listed there. No other author, historicist or mythicist, gets this dubious distinction. For those of you who are unaware, Ehrman and Carrier aren't the best of friends. They had a long-running war of blog posts, which is included in the article. This is the kind of thing I'm talking about, when I say that the articles are propped up by Carrier. Not just that he's overrepresented as a source, but the blatant influence seen in the article. Friedman (talk) 19:42, 8 December 2021 (UTC)

Give interested parties time to study the article. I myself have not read it all yet, Jesus science can be tricky. Don't try to hurry the process.Ariel31459 (talk) 19:53, 8 December 2021 (UTC)
Sorry about that. And lol to "Jesus science." Friedman (talk) 19:54, 8 December 2021 (UTC)
I agree that this article needs a major editing/daughtering out of material.--BruceGrubb (talk) 22:46, 8 December 2021 (UTC)

Citation doesn't say what article says it does[edit]

Article says that Paul claims all of his knowledge comes from visions and revelations, not human sources.

The citation is Galatians 1:11-12.

I believe someone has gotten their timeline confused.

If you were raised fundamentalist Christian and then became an atheist later, you might think or have been taught that the gospels came before Paul's letters since that is how they are laid out in the Bible. This is wrong. Paul wrote about 20 years before even the earliest gospel.

So in Galatians 1:11, Paul says his "gospel" came from no man and it came from direct revelation. This is not the same thing as what the article claims, and I think someone confused the word "gospel" with "story of Jesus" because of the 4 gospels in the NT. But those hadn't been written yet so Paul wasn't talking about that. He literally just means the "good news" he is sharing with the Galatians came from no man but from direct revelation. He's talking about how he preached to them gentiles don't need to follow Mosaic law, particularly circumcision. He is saying that that "good news" (the literal translation of "gospel") came from no man, it came from direct revelation. The rest of his knowledge about Jesus, and whether it came from divine revelation, human beings, a swamp monster, a talking tree, or a giant meteor, is ambiguous based on this verse. It could have come from divine revelation, could have come from a crazy dude on drugs talking to him, could have came from anywhere. This verse says nothing about the rest of his knowledge.

I've tried searching his epistles and I can't find anything to support this assertion. I think someone confused the word "gospel" with "what Jesus did and said" because they thought the gospels in the New Testament were around when Paul was writing. Gospel in his time just meant "good news".

That statement needs removed, or needs better supported. -- 20:49, 8 April 2022‎ User:CecilHarvey

Paul wrote at least six letters (Pauline epistles) in the 50s of the 1st century CE proclaiming and commenting on the GOSPEL of Κυρίος (Lord) Ἰησοῦς (Jesus) Χριστός (Christ). As an Apostle, Paul had a personal relationship with this god, writing, "[It pleased First-god] to reveal his son in me, that I might preach him among the gentiles" and "I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."
  • Godfrey, Neil (10 April 2022). "The Crucifixion of Jesus as Implicit History of the Jewish War".  Vridar.

    The letters of Paul that are understood to have been written some twenty to ten years before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE speak about the crucifixion of Jesus as a simple fact. There is never any elaboration of when or where it happened (unless one treats 1 Thess 2:13-16 as genuine). The message of death and resurrection of the son of God by itself is sufficient to lead to conversion.

The Pauline epistles are the earliest extant Manuscripts that attests to the practice of "Christians" proclaiming the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek term "gospel" was a mundane word and was used by other writers for topics unrelated to Christianity.
--Dbz (talk) 13:57, 10 April 2022 (UTC)
Biblehub shows the many ways Galatians 1:12 is translated:
  • New International Version: I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
  • New Living Translation: I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
  • Berean Study Bible: I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
The other translations of Galatians 1:12 effectively say the same thing. The citation doesn't need to removed or be better supported as anyone who reads both Galatians 1:11 and Galatians 1:12 can see the reference is properly cited.--BruceGrubb (talk) 20:32, 10 April 2022 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Right, it's not a translation issue. But the article is taking that statement to be much broader than what it is.

Let's look at those translations. What exactly is the "message" referring to in the NLT? What exactly is "it" in the NIV and berean translations?

Suppose I tell you that this money I have in my pocket came not from any work I did, but came directly from my father. That's only me talking about the money I have in my pocket, not all the money I have. The money in my bank account may have come from me winning the lottery.

Paul indeed is quite insistent that the gospel he had preached to the Galatians, which is that they do not need to follow Mosaic Law (particularly circumcision) came directly from revelation from Jesus. But he's not saying all of his knowledge came directly from revelation, only that gospel referred to in Galatians. I think people are equating the word "gospel" with "story about Jesus" because of the gospels in the NT. Paul is leaving the rest of his sources of knowledge ambiguous. Could have been revelation, could have been some crazy dude on the sidewalk, could have been anything. He even claims that he persecuted Christians prior to said revelation ( Gal 1:13-16). He might be lying about that for all we know. But he certainly couldn't be simultaneously claiming complete ignorance of this new religious movement prior to his revelation while also claiming he persecuted them prior to his revelation. He had to have obtained some knowledge about what this new religion was in order to persecute them, and he places this strictly before his revelation of Jesus. In fact if anything, this is pretty close to a confirmation that Paul is claiming to have obtained some level of information that wasn't obtained from some revelation or vision.

I can't find anything in Paul that supports a statement as broad as what this article is saying. "Jesus came down out of heaven and told me we don't need to circumcise gentiles" is not the same as "Jesus came down out of heaven and told me every single I know about how to worship him and what we should do" — Unsigned, by: CecilHarvey / talk / contribs

The gospel of Paul is:
  1. Jesus died
  2. Jesus was buried
  3. Jesus was resurrected
All the rest is not. It is commentary, proclamations (of additional revelations), interpretations (of scripture), theology, politics, preaching, etc. --Dbz (talk) 12:57, 14 April 2022 (UTC)
So you're saying that when Paul says "gospel" in Galatians it is equivalent to "gospel" in 1 Corinthians 15:2-3? In other words, we should treat all usages of the word "gospel" by Paul to be equivalent?

Romans 1:16 implies that "the gospel" is that both Jew and gentile can be saved. Galatians 1:6 has Paul referring to other gospels Romans 2:16 has Paul saying his gospel included God judging people, that's not in 1 Cor 15:2-3 Romans 15:16 it's the gospel of God. Is that different from Paul's gospel? 1 Corinthians 9:14. Now Paul says you can earn a living by the gospel. Sounds like here he's using "gospel" to mean preaching. 1 thessalonians 1:5. "Our gospel" wait, plural? I thought Paul's gospel was his alone, no other people have it? Who are these other people that have the same gospel as Paul? Right after Galatians 1:11-12, Paul claims he persecuted Christians before his vision. Now he might have lied about that, but clearly he is saying that he had some knowledge of the Jesus followers and what they did and believed prior to his vision. He certainly couldn't be persecuting them while simultaneously having no idea what they believe in or who they are.

Paul clearly indicates he had some knowledge of the Jesus cult prior to his revelation, and he clearly does not have some consistent use of the word "gospel". There is no basis to justify equating the term "gospel" as used in Galatians 1 with the term "gospel" as used in 1 Corinthians 15. The word didn't have a standardized meaning until the end of the 2nd century. All we can tell is the Paul is claiming what he is preaching to the Galatians came from no man but directly from visions. We can't conclude that about all of his knowledge, like this article claims.

If you're just going to assert with evidence that "gospel" in Galatians 1 and "gospel" in 1 Corinthians 15 means the exact same thing, then everyone should just dismiss it without evidence.

"This explains why Paul takes little notice of Jesus ' life on earth ( the death on the Cross and the resurrection excepted ) . He only knew the heavenly Jesus of the vision ; the earthly Jesus he had not known; and the account of Him" ... "Hibbert Journal: A Quarterly of Religion" (1903)--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:06, 26 April 2022 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Per 1 Corinthians:

  • [15:1] Γνωρίζω δὲ ὑμῖν ἀδελφοί τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ὃ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ παρελάβετε ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἑστήκατε [2] δι᾽ οὗ καὶ σῴζεσθε τίνι λόγῳ εὐηγγελισάμην ὑμῖν εἰ κατέχετε ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ εἰκῇ ἐπιστεύσατε [3] παρέδωκα γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν πρώτοις ὃ καὶ παρέλαβον ὅτι Χριστὸς ἀπέθανεν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν κατὰ τὰς γραφάς
  • [15:1] Gnorízo dé ymín adelfoí tó evangélion ó evingelisámin ymín ó kaí parelávete en ó kaí estíkate [2] di᾽ oú kaí sózesthe tíni lógo evingelisámin ymín ei katéchete ektós ei mí eikí epistéfsate [3] parédoka gár ymín en prótois ó kaí parélavon óti Christós apéthanen ypér tón amartión imón katá tás grafás

[15:1] …brethren the "good news (i.e. gospel about Jesus)" I testify (evangelize) to you…

The Greek word "gospel" is just an everyday common word that is context dependent. If Paul also told everyone the gospel of his regular bowel movements it would not be surprising. But the gospel of dietary fiber is not the same as the gospel of Jesus.

References by Paul to his gospel of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection are identifiable by Paul's use of:

  • tó evangélion ó evingelisámin
  • tó evangélion tó evangelisthén

--Dbz (talk) 12:28, 28 April 2022 (UTC) && 14:44, 3 May 2022 (UTC)