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Essay:Critics of the historicity of Jesus

General Info[edit]

A simple Litmus test (politics) to weed out potentially biased non-secular scholars is to ask the following: Do these scholars have an on-the-record position, in clear and unambiguous language, without equivocation for the “Historicity of the Mosaic authorship of the Torah” and the “Historicity of the resurrection of Jesus?

Additionally the following questions should be presented to any secular or non-secular “Defender of the Historicity of Jesus”: •What is the “minimal theory of historicity” that they hold? (And then compare it with Carrier’s rigorous and robust “minimal theory of historicity” •Do they denounce the scholars and the enablers that are party to the systemic censorship of free thought found within religiously affiliated institutions?

Certain types of scholarly results bring in more funding and prestige which in turn promotes certain types of scholarly results in an endless reinforcement cycle

I concur with R. M. Price that the dying and rising god thing does not significantly reflect on mythicism verses historicism.

• <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">"Robert M. Price & Christopher Hansen - INTERVIEW!"</a>. YouTube. MythVision Podcast. 2019.

[01:46:30] Ultimately I don't think the dying and rising god thing, though fascinating, really bears on mythicism, because Rudolf Bultmann and Joseph McCabe and various others have long said there were dying and rising god myths and they were among the resources early Christians used to mythologize the historical Jesus.

Bultmann goes into all of this stuff but he thinks, there was a historical Jesus, it was just he was made over in this image as he was: with a gnostic redeemer and the Jewish Messiah. If you could prove that there were dependencies of genealogical relationship, that wouldn't really reflect on mythicism verses historicism anyway. So in a way it's like a moot point—as fascinating as it is.

Cf. Godfrey, Neil (29 May 2019). "Robert Price and Christopher Hansen Discussion". Vridar.

Cook, contra Smith, asserts that "the continued use of the category of dying and rising gods" is justified.

• Cook, John Granger (2018). Empty tomb, resurrection, apotheosis. Tübingen. ISBN 978-3-16-156503-8.

[§.Conclusion] The review in this chapter thoroughly justifies the continued use of the category of dying and rising gods. [468] The resurrection of Osiris is the closest analogy to the resurrection of Jesus, although Osiris remains in the netherworld—wherever it is located. Horus’s resurrection is a clear analogy. The rebirth or resurrection of Dionysus also provides a fairly close analogy to the resurrection of Jesus. The revival of Heracles and probably that of Melqart are also strong analogies. —(p. 143)

[468] pace D. Frankfurter, rev. of Mettinger, Riddle, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.09.07 who argues that the category “dying/rising god” is merely a “Christian theological holdover, like ‘sacrament’ or ‘faith,’ from a time when all comparison was meant to legitimize or delegitimize dogma.” That premise is based on an argumentum ad hominem (i.e., those intending to “legitimize/delegitimize” dogma) and so is logically fallacious. The language is unavoidable, and even J. Z. Smith succumbs (cf. the quote in § 6.1 above from Drudgery, 133): there are “second to fourth century AD reinterpretation, within some of the ‘mystery’ cults, of archaic locative traditions of dead deities in new experimental modes which appear to testify to these deities returning to life. In the case of Attis, there are only scattered hints of this process.”

Charbonnel prefers that she be identified as a proponent of the midrashic hypothesis rather than a proponent of mythicism.

• <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="">"L'hypothèse midrashique"</a>. Le Champ du Midrash (in French NOW TRANSLATED by Google Translate).

The midrashic hypothesis is fairly straightforward to formulate. Since the early Christian texts have all the characteristics of midrashic literature, are they not simply midrash?

Through the hundreds of studies and articles on this site, the answer to this question is positive and can be formulated as follows:

• The New Testament is a text of the same nature as the Jewish midrash. It is an extension of it.

• It operates permanently under the double cartel regime.

• It deals with eschatology and cannot provide a basis for any historical element.

• All of its materials are already present in the Jewish midrash.

• The many pericopes (narrative units) that make up the Gospels can be reduced to a very small number of generic pericopes. These stem pericopes deal with the entry of the pagans into the Sinai covenant and the lightening of the Law.

• Healings form the central core of the Gospels. The stories of childhood and the Passion are also midrashim.

• These healings are a metaphor for the entry of the Gentiles into the divine covenant. To heal is always to heal from idolatry.

• The theme of the lightening of the Law is an extension of internal debates within Judaism, as the midrash on Ruth attests.

• The writers of the New Testament produce their narratives according to real specifications. Their lexicon and rhetoric obey a relatively rigid code.

• Christianity was built on a univocal reading of texts with double understanding. As a result of three major translations, and the loss of the Midrashic reading key, the current reader has no way of returning to the original meaning. He is condemned to a naive and historicizing reading of the New Testament.

McAdon, Brad (2017). "Josephus and Mark". Alpha: Studies in Early Christianity. 1: 92–93. "The author of our canonical Mark may have been influenced by several texts . . . Josephus’s Antiquities Book 18, and the Septuagint. If so, there will be significant implications concerning the historicity of Mark’s John the Baptist narratives, the dating of canonical Mark, and Mark’s compositional practices."


"The End is Nigh – for Jesus, that is".  Jesus Never Existed.

Critics mentioned – Jesus Never Existed
  1. Hermann Samuel Reimarus
  2. Francois Marie Arouet (Voltaire)
  3. Baron d'Holbach ('Boulanger')
  4. Count Constantine Volney
  5. Edward Evanson
  6. Charles François Dupuis
  7. Thomas Paine
  8. Robert Taylor
  9. Godfrey Higgins
  10. David Friedrich Strauss
  11. Bruno Bauer
  12. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  13. Logan Mitchell
  14. Ferdinand Christian Baur
  15. Charles Bradlaugh
  16. Ernest Renan
  17. Sytze Hoekstra
  18. Robert Ingersoll
  19. Walter Cassels
  20. Kersey Graves
  21. Allard Pierson
  22. Bronson C. Keeler
  23. Abraham Dirk Loman
  24. Thomas William Doane
  25. Samuel Adrianus Naber
  26. Gerald Massey
  27. Edwin Johnson
  28. Rudolf Steck
  29. Franz Hartman
  30. Willem Christiaan van Manen
  31. Joseph McCabe
  32. Albert Schweitzer
  33. Wilhelm Wrede
  34. Albert Kalthoff
  35. George Robert Stowe Mead
  36. Thomas Whittaker
  37. Emilio Bossi/Milesbo
  38. William Benjamin Smith
  39. Gerardus Bolland
  40. Prosper Alfaric
  41. Peter Jensen
  42. Mangasar Magurditch Mangasarian
  43. Karl Kautsky
  44. John E. Remsburg
  45. Arthur Drews
  46. John Robertson
  47. Edouard Dujardin
  48. Gustaaf Adolf van den Bergh van Eysinga
  49. Alexander Hislop
  50. Edward Carpenter
  51. Rudolf Bultmann
  52. James Frazer
  53. Marshall J. Gauvin
  54. Paul-Louis Couchoud
  55. Georg Brandes
  56. Joseph Wheless
  57. Henri Delafosse
  58. L. Gordon Rylands
  59. John G. Jackson
  60. Alvin Boyd Kuhn
  61. Herbert Cutner
  62. Georges Las Vergnas
  63. Georges Ory
  64. Guy Fau
  65. John Allegro
  66. George Albert Wells
  67. Phyllis Graham
  68. Jean Magne
  69. Samuel Max Rieser
  70. Abelard Reuchlin
  71. kos Vergidis
  72. Karlheinz Deschner
  73. Hermann Detering
  74. Gary Courtney
  75. Michael Kalopoulos
  76. Gerd Lüdemann
  77. Alvar Ellegard,
  78. D. Murdock (aka 'Acharya S')
  79. Earl Doherty
  80. Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy
  81. Harold Liedner
  82. Robert Price
  83. Hal Childs
  84. Michael Hoffman
  85. Dennis MacDonald
  86. Burton Mack
  87. Luigi Cascioli
  88. Israel Finkelstein
  89. Neil Silbermann
  90. Frank R. Zindler
  91. Daniel Unterbrink,
  92. Tom Harpur
  93. Francesco Carotta]
  94. Joseph Atwill
  95. Michel Onfray
  96. Kenneth Humphreys
  97. Jay Raskin
  98. Thomas L. Thompson
  99. Jan Irvin
  100. Andrew Rutajit
  101. Lena Einhorn
  102. Roger Viklund
  103. René Salm
  104. David Fitzgerald
  105. Thomas Brodie
  106. Richard Carrier
  107. Raphael Lataster
  108. Michael Paulkovich
  109. Sid Martin,
  110. Minas Papageorgiou

"A MYTHICISM TIMELINE".  Mythicist Papers

Critics mentioned – Mythicist Papers

  • (Trad) = Traditionalist. Endorses the existence of Jesus of Nazareth.
  • (Gen) = Generalist whose work influenced the wider culture in a skeptical direction.
  • (Skep) = Skeptical of the orthodox position regarding Jesus of Nazareth but not avowedly mythicist nor semi-mythicist.
  • (Semi-Myth) = Semi-mythicist. Endorses the existence of a prophet at the origin of Christianity, but maintains that prophet had little or no resemblance to Jesus of Nazareth.
  • (Myth) = Mythicist. Endorses the non-existence of any founding prophet at the origin of Christianity.
  2. (Skep) BARON d’HOLBACH
  4. (Semi-Myth) COMPTE DE VOLNEY
  6. (Skep) DAVID F. STRAUSS
  8. (Myth) BRUNO BAUER
  10. (Skep) KARL MARX
  12. (Skep) ERNEST RENAN
  14. (Semi-myth) SYTZE HOEKSTRA
  16. (Semi-Myth) ABRAHAM DIRK LOMAN
  17. (Myth) E. JOHNSON
  18. (Myth) RUDOLF STECK
  20. (Myth) JOHN M. ROBERTSON
  22. (Skep) W. WREDE
  29. (Myth) G. A. BERGH VAN EYSINGA
  30. (Skep) M. M. MANGASARIAN
  31. (Myth) SALOMON REINACHChrist
  38. (Skep) JOSEPH TURMEL
  39. (Trad) HENRY J. CADBURY,
  40. (Myth) G. A. BERGH VAN EYSINGA
  41. (Semi-myth) DANIEL MASSÉ
  45. (Myth) ALVIN BOYD KUHN
  47. (Trad) C. H. DODD
  48. (Semi-Myth) JOHN MARCO ALLEGRO
  49. (Myth) GEORGES ORY
  50. (Trad) J. M. ROBINSON and H. KOESTER
  53. (Semi-Myth) GEORGE A. WELLS
  54. (Trad) KURT RUDOLPH
  57. (Trad) ROBERT FUNK
  58. (Trad) PETER BROWN
  59. (Skep) RANDEL HELMS
  61. (Skep) BURTON MACK
  62. (Myth) EARL DOHERTY
  63. (Semi-myth) ALVAR ELLEGARD
  64. (Myth) T. FREKE and P. GANDY
  65. (Skep) GERD LÜDEMANN
  66. (Myth) ROBERT M. PRICE
  67. (Myth) FRANK ZINDLER
  68. (Myth) TOM HARPUR
  69. (Semi-Myth) RENÉ SALM
  71. (Trad) BART D. EHRMAN
  72. (Myth) THOMAS BRODIE

Christ references in Mark[edit]

• You are the Christ” (Peter in 8:29).

  • Peter’s Confession (8:29) — Mark begins the Gospel calling Jesus “the Christ” or “the Anointed One” or “the Messiah” but it would take Peter eight whole chapters to figure this out himself (8:29).

• “‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’And Jesus said, ‘I am...’” (14:61)

  • High Priest & Jesus (14:61) — asks Jesus at his trial whether he is the Christ. Jesus says “I am” and then proceeds to tell about his second coming.

• “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down from the cross that we may see and believe” (15:32)

  • Mockers (15:32) — at the crucifixion scene, several bystanders who will mock Jesus use his Christological Titles but don’t really mean it.

Pre-Christian Greek Christ references[edit]

Samuel MusgraveWikipedia (1732–1780) was an English classical scholar and physician. His 1778 edition of Euripides was considered an advance on the 1694 work of Joshua Barnes. Musgrave's edition was the most methodical and accomplished complete edition of Euripides (and fragments) yet published anywhere. Cf. Euripides, Quae extant omnia, Oxford, 1778, 4 volumes.

Musgrave gives a variant spelling of 501 μυρόχριστος (myróchristos) in the sense of "anointed". Other editors give μυρόχριστον (myróchriston). Cf:

Middle Platonism[edit]

Gaston, Thomas E. (July 2009). "The Influence of Platonism on the Early Apologists". The Heythrop Journal 50 (4): 573–580. doiWikipedia:10.1111/j.1468-2265.2008.00448.x. 

Scholars sometimes object to the term ‘Middle Platonism’ as being rather loosely defined. The term is used to cover the period between the Old Academy and Plotinus, but Platonists of this period do not conform to a single category. This period has failed to generate much academic interest…

Williams, D. (29 October 2016). "The Career of the Lógos: A Brief Biography". Philosophies 1 (3): 209–219. doiWikipedia:10.3390/philosophies1030209. 

Most of what we know about Hellenistic Judaism is drawn from Philo (some from Josephus), his writings supplying valuable data for the philosophical eclecticism of Platonist, Stoic, and Pythagorean elements known as Middle Platonism…

Markan geography[edit]

Both Galilee and Perea were Incorporated into "Greater Judea" i.e. Provincia Ivdaea, in 44 CE, which already incorporated the regions of Samaria, Idumea, and the eponymous Judea. The regional name Perea is used by Josephus (c. 75 CE) and Pliny the Elder (c. 75 CE) in their geographic descriptions of the regions within the province.

The Markan author shows a great awareness and interest in the Graeco-Roman city territories surrounding Galilee: Gerasa (Mk 5.1); Tyre and Sidon (7.24-31); Caesarea Philippi (8.27) and the Decapolis (5.20; 7.31), and has Jesus himself traveling into these areas.

In the Markan story, geography demarcates Jew from Gentile. While at the Gallilee region, Jesus receives Gentiles from the surrounding regions—one of which is Transjordan (Mark 3:8). The Markan author names the Transjordan region by using the same term found in the LXX Book of Isaiah—péran toú Iordánou; not Perea. Notably the Markan author never uses the specific contemporary name for the east bank territory of Herod Antipas, i.e. Perea. The LXX Book of Isaiah term for the Transjordan region is repeated in Mark 10:1, therefore the traditional view of the Perean ministry, which holds that Jesus did not travel beyond the Perean territorial region of Herod Antipas is not supported by the Markan text. It appears that the usage of the term Transjordan in Mark 10:1 is a reference to the Decapolis and other Gentile regions such that Jesus—enroute to Jerusalem—is teaching both Jews and Gentiles per the same literary East/West axis presented previously for the Sea of Galilee ministry.

• Isaiah 9:1 (LXX 8:23)

. . . πέραν τοῦ Ιορδάνου Γαλιλαία τῶν ἐθνῶν τὰ μέρη τῆς Ιουδαίας [péran toú Iordánou Galilaía tón ethnón tá méri tís Ioudaías ("beyond the Jordan i.e. Transjordan", "Galilee of the nations", and districts of Judaea)]

• Mark 3:8

. . . πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου καὶ περὶ Τύρον καὶ Σιδῶνα [péran toú Iordánou kaí perí Týron kaí Sidóna ("beyond the Jordan i.e. Transjordan" and around Tyre and Sidon)]

I have argued elsewhere that the east-west axis is far more central to the [Markan] narrative than the north-south axis. The hypothesis that Galilee might be terra Christiana should not overshadow what is more obvious, namely, the importance of the western and eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee. In a few words, the Sea of Galilee is even more important than the soil of Galilee. [Svartvik 2014, p. 178.]

• Svartvik, Jesper (2014). "“East is East and West is West:” The Concept of Torah in Paul and Mark". In Oda Wischmeyer, David C. Sim, and Ian J. Elmer. Paul and Mark: Comparative Essays Part I. Two Authors at the Beginnings of Christianity. BZNW 198. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 157–188. ISBN 978-3-11-027282-6.

Religious syncretism[edit]

The Markan text was written at least forty years after the Christian religion began (then an average human lifetime), and thus was responding to recent events (the destruction of Jerusalem). We can not explain the origins of Christianity by appealing to the Markan text or to the author's motives; The Markan text is a latecomer that was responding to profound changes in the religion and its circumstances. The religion itself began long before it was known that the Romans would actually destroy Jerusalem (early Christian thinking was then more in line with Daniel, which never mentions this, but only the temple’s “desecration,” after which God and his angels would destroy everything).

"God and his angels would destroy everything"

"Everything" .. meaning the entire Earth would be covered by lava, etc.