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The Christ Myth Theory

T.G.G. Moogly

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C.S. Lewis said:
I have been reading poems, romances, vision literature, legends, and myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know none of them are like this. Of this [gospel] text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage…or else, some unknown [ancient] writer…without known predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern novelistic realistic narrative.
Then anything written similarly must be equally true. So Hemingway was writing about a big fish that got away. End of story. Quaint.
 

Jarhyn

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Just for starters, what about James? Was his brother Jesus the Christ or Jesus the Cobbler?
I'm not as far along in my knowledge and experience as Huller and others who see the gospels as symbolic literary narratives. GMark ended with the disappearance of the body. That's a message meant to illustrate and recall something else in scripture. Only once the story became literalized was the ending changed to match the prevailing orthodoxy.

So to answer your question, within the gospels, I don't know. There's lots of discussion out there as to what exactly Jesus symbolized to early readers and listeners. I'm speculating that with time I will be able to understand the symbolic relationship between James and Jesus as well as lots of other things. For example, is forty days in the desert meant to recall to listeners the forty years of wandering in the wilderness for the Jews? These are things I've never appreciated before or even thought about. The strange part is that the beginnings of Christianity are still not known other than that it probably began as another Jewish sect or had its beginnings within another Jewish sect.

Sorry to disappoint...
I would expect the "wandering about part" to be a mutilation of some other aspect of a real story.

This corresponds roughly to the idea of John the Baptist fleeing the pogrom and returning. Eventually the orthodoxy would settle on a quantity that made literary sense over actual historical realities, and it happened many years before anyone had the sense or power to write down what actually happened.
The Toledot Yeshu is being cited as a reference for the true Jesus. [insert emoticon of someone gagging and pounding their head on the floor.]

The Toledot Yeshu, with Judas Iscariot on wings chasing Yeshu the Bastard through the sky. Yeshu was a bastard, a liar, and could be beaten in battle by Judas . . .

. . . But notice ONE charge NEVER made against Jesus in the Toledot. A charge that would have devastated the Christian religion, but that the anti-Christians never made: that Jesus was a fiction, that he never lived.

Mythicists would have us believe that the sources of the Toledot date all the way back to the 1st century, when Jesus would have been memorable, or not. Yet the charge of non-existence was never made.
I don't call either narrative less than polemic.

The expectation is that the Toledot Yeshu probably has 2-3 things that are roughly similar to historic events, and the gospels have maybe 2-3 such things.
 

Swammerdami

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I'm accused of shouting when I use large fonts. But when I don't, key sentences get overlooked.

C.S. Lewis said:
I have been reading poems, romances, vision literature, legends, and myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know none of them are like this. Of this [gospel] text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage…or else, some unknown [ancient] writer…without known predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern novelistic realistic narrative.
Then anything written similarly must be equally true. So Hemingway was writing about a big fish that got away. End of story. Quaint.

Please re-read the Lewis quote. See if your flippant remark still seems sensical. I notice you edited my post to remove Professor Lewis' qualification. He was Cambridge's Chairman of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature

The Toledot Yeshu, with Judas Iscariot on wings chasing Yeshu the Bastard through the sky. Yeshu was a bastard, a liar, and could be beaten in battle by Judas . . .

. . . But notice ONE charge NEVER made against Jesus in the Toledot. A charge that would have devastated the Christian religion, but that the anti-Christians never made: that Jesus was a fiction, that he never lived.

Mythicists would have us believe that the sources of the Toledot date all the way back to the 1st century, when Jesus would have been memorable, or not.
Yet the charge of non-existence was never made.
I don't call either narrative less than polemic.

The expectation is that the Toledot Yeshu probably has 2-3 things that are roughly similar to historic events, and the gospels have maybe 2-3 such things.

If Jesus never existed, 1st-century people would have known, or at least suspected, that. Is it uninteresting that among all the Toledot Yeshu polemic, THAT charge was never made?
 

Jarhyn

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I'm accused of shouting when I use large fonts. But when I don't, key sentences get overlooked.

C.S. Lewis said:
I have been reading poems, romances, vision literature, legends, and myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know none of them are like this. Of this [gospel] text there are only two possible views. Either this is reportage…or else, some unknown [ancient] writer…without known predecessors or successors, suddenly anticipated the whole technique of modern novelistic realistic narrative.
Then anything written similarly must be equally true. So Hemingway was writing about a big fish that got away. End of story. Quaint.

Please re-read the Lewis quote. See if your flippant remark still seems sensical. I notice you edited my post to remove Professor Lewis' qualification. He was Cambridge's Chairman of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature

The Toledot Yeshu, with Judas Iscariot on wings chasing Yeshu the Bastard through the sky. Yeshu was a bastard, a liar, and could be beaten in battle by Judas . . .

. . . But notice ONE charge NEVER made against Jesus in the Toledot. A charge that would have devastated the Christian religion, but that the anti-Christians never made: that Jesus was a fiction, that he never lived.

Mythicists would have us believe that the sources of the Toledot date all the way back to the 1st century, when Jesus would have been memorable, or not.
Yet the charge of non-existence was never made.
I don't call either narrative less than polemic.

The expectation is that the Toledot Yeshu probably has 2-3 things that are roughly similar to historic events, and the gospels have maybe 2-3 such things.

If Jesus never existed, 1st-century people would have known, or at least suspected, that. Is it uninteresting that among all the Toledot Yeshu polemic, THAT charge was never made?
Remember, I'm the Amalgamist here. At any rate, I claim 150-200 original of the Toledot with 1st century and 1st century BC records of who Yeshu was as far as the "five disciples", and the discussion of a Miriam with regards to an infidelity. I expect the earlier and much less polemic nuggets in the rabbinical lore on the matter to have been the seed of that larger polemic.

Mostly, I find the Toledot important for ONE reason: it hints that Yeshu was not "his" actual name.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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If Jesus never existed, 1st-century people would have known, or at least suspected, that.
We have anonymous stories written about Jesus that are clearly fictional, identical to superman stories we have today. Outside those official legendary stories we have a few hearsay references to the person. Then we have two-thousand years of selection pressure against persons not accepting orthodoxy. Add to those facts that we have no general understanding and appreciation for how those stories were understood in their times. Arguments from "authority" do not change any of those facts.

The nature of this "Jesus" was argued in those nascent years, whether he was a spirit or a person or some combination and exactly what he was scripturally and religiously. There was plenty of woo to go around about an alleged earthly existence. I'm convinced that if we had all those lost shards of evidence we would be left with another Hercules or Pegasus. Persons today are still attempting to manufacture credible evidence for his existence such as the James Ossuary. Jesus has remained good business.

Writing accounts in third person omniscient with miraculous accounts that are laden with religious discourse and argument are not evidence for the characters and events within. I really don't get the C.S. Lewis angle, someone who was "angry at god for not existing," and then converts to the Jesus god. The guy can write fantasy and is buried with Shakespeare but that doesn't make Jesus any more real to me.
 

Tharmas

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Please re-read the Lewis quote. See if your flippant remark still seems sensical. I notice you edited my post to remove Professor Lewis' qualification. He was Cambridge's Chairman of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature
CS Lewis was indeed a professor of English literature, that’s English literature. He was also a (in my opinion, naive) Christian apologist of note, and author of the well-known “trilemma,” an obvious false “trichotomy” if you will. Here in your quote he presents an obviously false dichotomy. Note that when he calls the Gospels “reportage,” he means he accepts the whole shebang, including miracles, resurrection, etc., as accurate reporting.

One thing the Gospels are clearly NOT is “reportage,” for the reasons Moogly points out, as well as others.

I am appending in my next post a copy of a post I made in the “Historical Jesus” thread some time ago. I still stand by it.
 

Tharmas

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I had promised myself I wouldn't get involved in this perennial topic again, but somehow I can't stop myself. :)

It seems to me that judging the historicity of Jesus should not be seen as a binary proposition, that is, either the character is totally fiction or on the other hand he existed largely as he is depicted in the Gospels, saving perhaps the miracles, resurrection, etc.
My approach is first to examine our sources, which are primarily the Gospels, but before the Gospels there are the genuine epistles of Paul, perhaps the Revelation of John, and perhaps some other early Christian documents of uncertain provenance. Paul says surprisingly little about the life of Jesus, other than that he was crucified. He does claim to have met the apostles John and Peter. What we learn from Paul and some of the other early documents is that in its early days Christianity consisted of a loose federation of disparate communities which often differed considerably in doctrine.

That leaves the Gospels, and naturally the first question is, what is the nature of the Gospels?. They are narratives, written for the most part in “3rd person omniscient” (as opposed to 1st person or “eyewitness”) in scope. They are in part hagiography. They can be said to be “Lives of Jesus,” but only in the ancient, not the modern, sense. That is, rigorously accurate reporting is not valued as much as conveying an impression. In addition, frequently the author’s purpose in writing is to express his own personal philosophy.

The Gospels display all of those characteristics. In terms of the last mentioned characteristic, expressing the author’s own opinion, it is widely accepted by modern scholars that each of the Gospels displays a particular spin on the story. For instance, Matthew has been said to shape the story to lessen some of the anti-Semitism of earlier versions, and be friendlier to the Jews somewhat.

It should also be noted that the Gospels were somewhat plastic documents, subject to re-writes, additions and subtractions over the course of decades before they were canonized in official versions. For instance, Marcion in the 2nd century heavily edited Luke and Acts to conform to his vision of Christianity. How much of his editing was accurately redacted later is not entirely certain. Or the famous story of the woman taken in adultery was added to John much later that the original version; early Church fathers did not know the story.
But even before the extant gospels was Q, a hypothesized “sayings” Gospel (similar in many ways to the Gospel of Thomas) that leant much of its material to the later Matthew and Luke. This would be the first “layer” of information about the Jesus figure, and he comes across as a
This picture forms one part of a mosaic. Other pieces of the mosaic include Jesus as an apocalyptic preacher, Jesus as a miracle worker, Jesus as Messiah, Jesus as a God, and others.

Burton Mack, author of Who Wrote the New Testament, sees these mosaic pieces as expressions of different nascent Christian communities with different “takes” and different reactions to current events.

Enter the author of The Gospel of Mark. He takes many of these elements and combines them into a new kind of narrative, a “life” in the classical sense. Mack says:
Thus Mark’s story is best understood as a studied combination of Jesus traditions with the Christ myth. The combination enhanced Jesus’ importance as a historical figure by casting him as the son of God or the Christ and by working out an elaborate plot to link his fate to the history of Mark’s community. We may therefore call Mark’s gospel a myth of origin for the Markan community. It was imagined in order to understand how history could have gone the way it had and the Jesus movement still be right about its loyalties and views.

Mack, Burton L.. Who Wrote the New Testament? (p. 152). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

Even the Passion story was a complete fabrication.

The conclusion must be that the identity of the man, or men, whatever their name(s), who inspired the Jesus stories, is lost to history.
 

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[W]hat is the nature of the Gospels?. They are narratives, written for the most part in “3rd person omniscient” (as opposed to 1st person or “eyewitness”) in scope. They are in part hagiography. They can be said to be “Lives of Jesus,” but only in the ancient, not the modern, sense.
[...]
Marcion in the 2nd century heavily edited Luke and Acts to conform to his vision of Christianity. How much of his editing was accurately redacted later is not entirely certain.
[...]
But even before the extant gospels was Q, a hypothesized “sayings” Gospel (similar in many ways to the Gospel of Thomas) that leant much of its material to the later Matthew and Luke.
Jack Bull holds that Marcion's Mark was the first version of Mark !
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Most people probably aren't aware that Superman is the creation of two Jewish men.

Superman was created in 1933 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two Jewish immigrants in New York. The character first appeared in DC Comics’ Action Comics #1 in 1938. Inspiration for Superman came from multiple sources. Writer Jerry Siegel loosely based the storyline on the John Carter of Mars books, a series about a Civil War soldier who travels to Mars and realizes he is extremely powerful due to the weak gravity there. Joe Shuster’s drawings mimic the poses and mannerisms of Douglas Fairbanks, an action movie star from the silent era.

When World War II began, Superman was enlisted in the war effort and fought Japanese and German villains in the comic book stories. This iconic hero continues to be known for capabilities like invulnerability, super strength, and speed. The success and popularity of Superman undoubtedly inspired the creation of the comic characters that came after him.

Maybe the historical Superman is Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Or maybe the historical Superman is some civil war Virginia soldier.

What is most reasonable to posit is that the historical Superman is a fictional character owing its existence to Shuster, Siegel, Fairbanks and Burroughs. Pretty cool, four authors again.

The Historical Superman

And no one touched my question regarding Hemingway and Old Man and the Sea. Does anyone think that Hemingway penned this novella to tell us about an old fisherman, a marlin, and sharks, an episode he must have witnessed and therefore committed to paper? Did he have no other motivations? If it isn't an eyewitness account of a great human struggle then what are we to make of it?
 

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When William Faulkner reviewed Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea he wrote something to the effect of "In this book Hemingway has discovered God." I understand that Hemingway never forgave him for that remark.
 

steve_bank

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Conan and Tarzan. Zorro and the Lone Ranger. Modern myths abound which have become common metaphors in culture.

The original Deacula was nased on a brutal bloody leader. V;ad The Impaler. over time the original myth evolved into many story lines.

2000 years ago communication was by word of mouth and undoubtedly given to embellishment. It is not hard to see how a Jesus myth developed from a few real events. It wolud have been esily for people to conflate people and stories.

Hey man yea I heard tihis guy Jesus was given a talk to people and he actually pulled a bunch of fish out of a basket.

Look ath ow a number of Christians came to believe Trump is an agent of god sent to help them. The myth that Trump is an exper businessman depite all his failures, even with facts presented in the media.

For all we know Jesus was a drunk or a raving lunatic.
 

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T.G.G. Moogly

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It's pretty obvious that when people invent these myths they are deifying themselves to a degree because they are identifying with their hero or heroine.

In some circles the gospels were never meant for public consumption but instead were intended to be teaching and discussion tools among the theologically learned. Considering Christianity's early penalties for translating the text into the native tongue that makes a lot of sense.
 

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  • The disappearance of the body of Jesus from the tomb presents likenesses to certain pagan traditions.
Pease, Arthur Stanley (1942). “Some Aspects of Invisibility”. Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. 53: 1–36. doi:10.2307/310789.​

  • First, scholars tend to subsume Mark under a Judaic literary domain, thus seeking its primary semiotic indices and cultural conventions within early Jewish literature. There appears, however, to be little basis for this appetence, except a rather non-scholarly insistence on a “pristine,” “non-pagan” well from which the academy ought to draw nearly all cultural, literary, and ideological antecedents.
  • [Second] Such aversion combines with what one may best describe as a fundamental misapprehension of the processes and principles governing Hellenistic literary production; that is, a given story, when juxtaposed with the array of analogous Mediterranean ”fabulae”, must either match uniformly or the classification be summarily dismissed as nonapplicable. This not only comes as a false choice but betrays a gross misconception regarding the phenomena of syncretic adaptation in the Hellenistic Orient.
  • Third, and perhaps most obstructive, the persistent sacred nature of the narrative, for many in a field overgrown with faith-based scholarship, has typically confused subject and object, yielding a paucity of effective historical, literary-critical treatments.
Miller, Richard C. (2010) [now formatted]. “Mark’s Empty Tomb and Other Translation Fables in Classical Antiquity”. Journal of Biblical Literature. 129 (4): 759–776. doi:10.2307/25765965.​

Further comparisons are made with the gospel and Greco-Roman tales of “tomb tokens”, some possession or piece of clothing of the disappeared deceased being found in the empty tomb. This device demonstrates to readers that there is no doubt that the characters have the right tomb.

Verisimilitude is further added by persons in the narratives — both New Testament and Greco-Roman mythical — expressing doubt and being forced by the evidence to believe that the body has been supernaturally taken.

In these stories we observe special figures who appear on an apparently historical stage. Yet underlying the narration is a template that is well recognized from mythography: the translation and immortalization of famous heroes. . . . Tropes have been added to make the stories seem more historical: alternative reports, tomb tokens, staged skepticism, and so on.

As for the gospel narratives,

templates from more ancient mythography informed how events were remembered and composed.
(177)

Remembered? I doubt that there was any remembering behind the stories of Achilles and Apollonius. But we certainly have evidence that the Christian and non-Christian were composed with similar templates.
Mimetic Signal for a Missing body:
  • Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Ant. rom. 2.56.2-6;
  • Plutarch, Rom. 27.3-5
MILLER, RICHARD C. (2010). “Mark’s Empty Tomb and Other Translation Fables in Classical Antiquity”. Journal of Biblical Literature. 129 (4): 759–776. doi:10.2307/25765965.​
Cf.
Godfrey, Neil (24 October 2015). “The Disappearances of the Bodies of Jesus and Other Heroes”. Vridar.
Godfrey, Neil (31 May 2019). "Another Empty Tomb Story". Vridar.

This book offers an original interpretation of the origin and early reception of the most fundamental claim of Christianity: Jesus' resurrection. Richard Miller contends that the earliest Christians would not have considered the New Testament accounts of Jesus' resurrection to be literal or historical, but instead would have recognized this narrative as an instance of the trope of divine translation, common within the Hellenistic and Roman mythic traditions. Given this framework, Miller argues, early Christians would have understood the resurrection story as fictitious rather than historical in nature. By drawing connections between the Gospels and ancient Greek and Roman literature, Miller makes the case that the narratives of the resurrection and ascension of Christ applied extensive and unmistakable structural and symbolic language common to Mediterranean "translation fables," stock story patterns derived particularly from the archetypal myths of Heracles and Romulus. In the course of his argument, the author applies a critical lens to the referential and mimetic nature of the Gospel stories, and suggests that adapting the "translation fable" trope to accounts of Jesus' resurrection functioned to exalt him to the level of the heroes, demigods, and emperors of the Hellenistic and Roman world. Miller's contentions have significant implications for New Testament scholarship and will provoke discussion among scholars of early Christianity and Classical studies.
  • Source: Publisher
Richard C. Miller (Adjunct Professor)(2015). Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity. Routledge. ISBN978-1-138-82270-2.
 
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T.G.G. Moogly

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It seems the more we actually learn about the gospels and their main protagonist the more we must accept the conclusion that the life and death and resurrection of Jesus is a historicized fable. A religious story meant originally to teach, compete and elevate eventually became taken as literal fact.
 

dbz

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A religious story meant originally to teach, compete and elevate eventually became taken as literal fact.

As a clinical psychologist who has written books about the psychology of superheroes, I think origin stories show us not how to become super but how to be heroes, choosing altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power.
  • Per the Origin of LORD IS XS (previous presented, see: #91, #380, #477)
[MOOD-MUSIC] "In The Beginning". YouTube. Hans Zimmer.
  • Lord IS revealed himself to his first devotee and said many wise thing to him. Said devotee gave Lord IS the cognomem XS, and started a cult called XSians.
This all comes back to discussions of the Demiurge, then, I suppose.

There remains only one explanation: Paul believed … in a divine Christ, before he believed in Jesus.
William Wrede
Wikipedia
[6]
In short: Paul believed in the divine XS from the very beginning!

So Paul never knew about XS on Earth until he was told this strange tale:
  • The XS cult's Demiurge is then amalgamated with this strange tale:
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.
Robertson, Archibald (1946). Jesus: Myth or History?. Thinker's Library, No. 110. London: Watts. p. 107.
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 [...] the very scanty biographical details even as given in the Gospels [see Mark] do not justify the claim of a 'unique personality'...
McCabe, Joseph (1948). "Jesus". A Rationalist Encyclopædia: A Book of Reference on Religion, Philosophy, Ethics and Science. Watts.
[W]hat a historical Jesus could have been like. He was not a teacher or even a leader of any kind. If he went up to Jerusalem with some fellow believers in an imminent Kingdom of God—perhaps a group of John the Baptist’s followers—he was not the leader of the group. Once in Jerusalem he may have done or said something that got him pulled out from the others and crucified. That would have been the end of the story. Except that another member of the group had a vision of him resurrected, and interpreted it as meaning that the Kingdom of God was closer than ever. Jesus thereby began to take on an importance all out of proportion with his real status as a nobody. The accretions began. And the excuses for why no one had taken much notice of him before.

Given that Carrier asserts that Philo interprets the Jesus in Zechariah 6 as the archangel (second-god) Philo worshiped (see §.Scholars on Paul's second god), and that Larry Hurtado
Wikipedia
disputes this assertion, Carrier demonstrates with the following imaginary thought exercise of how a scholar of history should respond when a disagreement arises with another scholar of history's assertions that challenge the current consensus:
Carrier: Philo identifies this archangelic Son of God High Priest with the Son of God High Priest in Zechariah 6, who is named Jesus.
Hurtado: Hmm. I’m sure that can’t be. Because that verse is usually interpreted in a way that distinguishes the Anatolê figure Philo is talking about, from the Jesus figure there. So why does Carrier think otherwise? I’ll need to check and see what arguments he has. After all, his book is peer reviewed, so I can be sure he’ll have arguments and evidence for his reading; that’s what peer review is for. So I know he didn’t just assert it. So I need to know what his case for that reading is. Let me check.
Hurtado: [Checks the cited section of my book, reads the evidence; checks the evidence, confirms it’s correct.]
Hurtado: Hm. Okay. I see how he thinks that; there’s some evidence for that conclusion. But I’m not convinced by it. So I need to explain why each item of evidence he presents doesn’t persuade me.
Hurtado: [Publishes an accurate summary of the reasons I give in the book for my conclusion. Enumerates those reasons, and for each one, gives his reason for not being persuaded by it; and gives his reason for not being persuaded even by the conjunction of those reasons.]
Carrier: [Responds with the same collegiality in kind, pointing out why his reasons for not being persuaded aren’t logically valid.]
Hurtado: [Explains why his reasons are logically valid.]
The Public: [Looks at which one of them is correct about the logic; because they both now agree on the premises.][192]
 

dbz

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[P]ieces of the mosaic include Jesus as an apocalyptic preacher, Jesus as a miracle worker, Jesus as Messiah, Jesus as a God, and others.

Burton Mack, author of Who Wrote the New Testament, sees these mosaic pieces as expressions of different nascent Christian communities with different “takes” and different reactions to current events.

Enter the author of The Gospel of Mark. He takes many of these elements and combines them into a new kind of narrative, a “life” in the classical sense. Mack says:
Thus Mark’s story is best understood as a studied combination of Jesus traditions with the Christ myth. The combination enhanced Jesus’ importance as a historical figure by casting him as the son of God or the Christ and by working out an elaborate plot to link his fate to the history of Mark’s community. We may therefore call Mark’s gospel a myth of origin for the Markan community. It was imagined in order to understand how history could have gone the way it had and the Jesus movement still be right about its loyalties and views.

Mack, Burton L.. Who Wrote the New Testament? (p. 152). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

The gospels are Hellenistic probably intended as promotional material for the gentiles. The demigod birth narrative would resonate with gentiles, not Jews.
Paul was converted to a Hellenized form of some Jesus movement that had already developed into a Christ cult. [...] Thus his letters serve as documentation for the Christ cult as well.
Mack, Burton L. (1988). "The Congregations of the Christ". A Myth of Innocence: Mark and Christian Origins. Fortress Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-8006-2549-8.​
The evidence from Paul’s letters is that the congregations of the Christ were attractive associations and that their emerging mythology was found to be exciting. A spirited cult formed on the model of the mystery religions...
Mack, Burton L. (1993). "Mythmaking and the Christ". The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins. HarperSanFrancisco. pp. 219f. ISBN 978-0-06-065374-3.​
[Per the Kyrios Christos Cult] The ancient Mediterranean world was hip-deep in religions centering on the death and resurrection of a savior god. [...] It is very hard not to see extensive and basic similarities between these religions and the Christian religion. But somehow Christian scholars have managed not to see it, and this, one must suspect, for dogmatic reasons. [...] But it seems to me that the definitive proof that the resurrection of the Mystery Religion saviors preceded Christianity is the fact that ancient Christian apologists did not deny it!
Price, Robert M. (2000). "The Christ Cults". Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus. pp. 86, 88, 91. ISBN 978-1-61592-120-1.​
Bolland, De Evangelische Jozua; Rylands, The Evolution of Christianity; Rylands, The Beginnings of Gnostic Christianity; Zindler, The Jesus the Jews Never Knew, 340, and others similarly 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.
Price, Robert M. (27 December 2010). Secret Scrolls: Revelations from the Lost Gospel Novels. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 103, n. 5. ISBN 978-1-4982-7142-4.​
[Walter] Schmithals’s researches [The Office of Apostle in the Early Church. trans. John E. Steely. New York: Abingdon Press. 1969.] would in any case delineate for us the basis of a pre-Jesus cult of the Christ, one in which the Christ had nothing in particular to do with Jesus the Nazorean. And eventually it could be found alongside some form of Hellenized Jesus movement, I would guess the Jesus martyr cult, in Corinth.
Price, Robert M. (2000). "The Christ Cults". Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus. pp. 79f, 83. ISBN 978-1-61592-120-1.​
  • Hellenistic Jews like Philo and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews adopted Logos ideas to create a melding of Hebrew and Greek. But more mainstream Judaism had its own intermediary figure [Personified Wisdom] going back centuries, certainly as old as Plato. [...] In the Wisdom of Solomon, perhaps the most important surviving piece of Hellenistic-Jewish writing, we can see a clear and exotic blending of Wisdom with the Logos.
  • Philo of Alexandria (c25BCE to c50CE) is the foremost example of the input of Greek ideas into Jewish thought, a phenomenon which produced an important type of philosophy and culture during this period, called "Hellenistic Judaism." [...] Charles H. Talbert ("The Myth of a Descending-Ascending Redeemer in Mediterranean Antiquity," New Testament Studies22 [1975], p.418-439) regards Philo as a witness to an existing myth in which Wisdom-Logos was treated as a heavenly personal being and a redeemer figure—through bestowing knowledge of God. This myth is reflected in the Alexandrian document, the Wisdom of Solomon...
  • Christ is a divine presence in [early] Christian communities, bestowing revelation and guidance, a channel to God and to knowledge of spiritual truths. [...] Paul's system and that of early Christianity generally is permeated with the concept of evil spirit forces acting malevolently on the world and dividing earth from heaven. ...[This] illuminates the proto-gnostic atmosphere he [Paul] moved and even shared in...
  • [Per] a shift to a concern with the heavenly world and God’s activities within it, a focus which was continued and enlarged on in much of the Jewish intertestamental writings. [...] The Pauline corpus’ obsession with the threat of dark cosmic powers who inhabit the heavens, the period’s fixation on the threat from the demons, has little precedent in the Hebrew bible and marks a new development in Jewish thought, as it did in Hellenistic outlook generally. And inasmuch as Gnosticism is now seen as having had at least a partial origin within radical Jewish circles preceding Christianity, with its center of attention on a heavenly world and the workings of the Godhead, we can see an era-wide development in an interest in the Platonic view of an upper part of the cosmos where divine activities took place. Even Philo, with his focus on the Logos as emanation of God, as well as his “Heavenly Man” concept—another fixation in the period’s picture of divine realities which shows up in Paul’s concept of Christ as “anthrōpos”—demonstrates the saturation of earthly thought with heavenly imaginings.
 

Learner

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It seems the more we actually learn about the gospels and their main protagonist the more we must accept the conclusion that the life and death and resurrection of Jesus is a historicized fable. A religious story meant originally to teach, compete and elevate eventually became taken as literal fact.

This has a ring of what I would call "Hypothesis of the gaps" ( I suppose this goes for Carrier & co.). Perhaps you haven't noticed... but there IS such great emphasis in focusing on.: being truthful, telling the truth; i.e., testimonies that is meant to be literal (the fear of God and consequences is a psychological factor to believers, to be truthful etc.. ). Meaning that it's also gives reason to be literal about WHO it was that gave these teachings, literally talking about this character, and identifying Him as Jesus.

So it is said, and been mentioned on the thread that there were others called Jesus too.

Well it seems only Jesus is 'special again,' when it comes to 'others with the same name;' apparently confusing the Christians into believing in a different person to the Conventional Jesus character (according to some secular beliefs). Why can't Ponitus Pilot, Noah, Moses, Mark, Luke John or Mathew, to be confused with others who have the same name as them (make the hypothesis even more interesting. ;) )? That's if, of course, we can get by the idea that there happens to be NO focused-on references, regarding any of the other biblical characters being mistaken for someone else in their time, as it is said for Jesus.
 
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T.G.G. Moogly

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It seems the more we actually learn about the gospels and their main protagonist the more we must accept the conclusion that the life and death and resurrection of Jesus is a historicized fable. A religious story meant originally to teach, compete and elevate eventually became taken as literal fact.

This has a ring of what I would call "Hypothesis of the gaps" ( I suppose this goes for Carrier & co.). Perhaps you haven't noticed... but there IS such great emphasis in focusing on.: being truthful, telling the truth; i.e., testimonies that is meant to be literal (the fear of God and consequences is a psychological factor to believers, to be truthful etc.. ). Meaning that it's also gives reason to be literal about WHO it was that gave these teachings, literally talking about this character, and identifying Him as Jesus.

So it is said, and been mentioned on the thread that there were others called Jesus too.

Well it seems only Jesus is 'special again,' when it comes to 'others with the same name;' apparently confusing the Christians into believing in a different person to the Conventional Jesus character (according to some secular beliefs). Why can't Ponitus Pilot, Noah, Moses, Mark, Luke John or Mathew, to be confused with others who have the same name as them (make the hypothesis even more interesting. ;) )? That's if, of course, we can get by the idea that there happens to be NO focused-on references, regarding any of the other biblical characters being mistaken for someone else in their time, as it is said for Jesus.
That's the whataboutism argument, quite common when there isn't any actual evidence to offer.

Nice to see you again, Learner. I'm curious your take on a question I posed about literature such as the gospels. I compared it to Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. Do you think Hemingway is relating an eyewitness account of the experiences of an old fisherman? Do you think that's why he penned his novella?
 

dbz

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This has a ring of what I would call "Hypothesis of the gaps" ( I suppose this goes for Carrier & co.). Perhaps you haven't noticed... but there IS such great emphasis in focusing on.: being truthful, telling the truth...
[. . .]

Leading mythicism scholars do not not assert that the historicity of Jesus is a black or white scenario, R. M. Price writes, “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”;[23] and Carrier gives at best a 1 in 3 (~33%) chance that Jesus existed.[24] Carrier writes, "I am not engaging in “tactics.” I am simply stating what is true. If I had found the odds of historicity to be 50/50, that’s what I would have reported my findings to be. I reported what I found."[25]
 

Politesse

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Carrier writes, "I am not engaging in “tactics.” I am simply stating what is true. If I had found the odds of historicity to be 50/50, that’s what I would have reported my findings to be. I reported what I found."[25]
If you believe that, I've heard there's a lovely bridge for sale in Brooklyn. :D

Fad Bayesians want the comfort of numbers to legitimate their subjective assumptions, but if those numbers are "assigned" on the basis of pre-existent bias rather than derived from any real set of data, they are meaningless to any serious scholar. No one goes to a fad Bayesian argument first; it's the recourse, the backup position, of a person who has realized there is no substantial empirical evidence in favor of their claim.
 

dbz

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Fad Bayesians want the comfort of numbers to legitimate their subjective assumptions, but if those numbers are "assigned" on the basis of pre-existent bias rather than derived from any real set of data, they are meaningless to any serious scholar. No one goes to a fad Bayesian argument first; it's the recourse, the backup position, of a person who has realized there is no substantial empirical evidence in favor of their claim.

Carrier's work on historical method, Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus[177] promotes the use of Bayes' theorem
Wikipedia
to analyze highly uncertain problems in history, as Carrier notes, "All historians use it, unknowingly, to generate every claim they make about history."[189][190]

Comment by Richard Carrier—4 July 2020—per "Open Thread On the Historicity of Jesus". Richard Carrier Blogs. 29 June 2020. "[A]ll historians who are arguing validly, even though they can almost never explain what it is about their arguing that makes it valid, are in fact already arguing with Bayes’ Theorem. In other words, we can fully model their argument with Bayes’ Theorem and thus explain why what they are arguing is valid—even though they are not consciously aware of this fact about their reasoning. See my article "Bayesian Statistics vs. Bayesian Epistemology" (and philosophy of history expert Aviezer Tucker’s demonstration in Our Knowledge of the Past and Efraim Wallach’s demonstration with respect to the evolution of the consensus on Old Testament historicity)."

Carrier (31 October 2021). "Doing the Math: Historicity of Jesus Edition". Richard Carrier Blogs.
The simplest form of the Bayesian equation to use for this purpose is the Odds Form, in which the odds on any claim being true equal the prior odds times the likelihood ratio, which is the relative odds of the evidence being as it is. This is the form I use in my peer reviewed work On the Historicity of Jesus.

Carrier (29 May 2018). "A Test of Bayesian History: Efraim Wallach on Old Testament Studies". Richard Carrier Blogs.
The article is by Efraim Wallach, titled “Bayesian Representation of a Prolonged Archaeological Debate,” in Synthese 195.1 (January 2018): 401-31. The abstract reads:
This article examines the effect of material evidence upon historiographic hypotheses. Through a series of successive Bayesian conditionalizations, I analyze the extended competition among several hypotheses that offered different accounts of the transition between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age in Palestine and in particular to the “emergence of Israel.” The model reconstructs, with low sensitivity to initial assumptions, the actual outcomes including a complete alteration of the scientific consensus. Several known issues of Bayesian confirmation, including the problem of old evidence, the introduction and confirmation of novel theories and the sensitivity of convergence to uncertain and disputed evidence are discussed in relation to the model’s result and the actual historical process. The most important result is that convergence of probabilities and of scientific opinion is indeed possible when advocates of rival hypotheses hold similar judgment about the factual content of evidence, even if they differ sharply in their historiographic interpretation. This speaks against the contention that understanding of present remains is so irrevocably biased by theoretical and cultural presumptions as to make an objective assessment impossible.

Lataster drew together the Carrier-based arguments of the previous chapters and set out first, Carrier’s probabilistic summaries of them all, and secondly, his (Lataster’s) alternative calculations.

[2.3 Bayes’s Theorem]
At this point, in order to justify the two-part plausibility of hypotheses, we can make use of Bayes’s theorem.
Heilig, Christoph (2015). Hidden Criticism?: The Methodology and Plausibility of the Search for a Counter-Imperial Subtext in Paul. Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 978-3-16-153795-0.
 

steve_bank

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I watched a show on the Roan catacombs. It was more entertianmet than academic, but one thing that can be seen is a mixing of pagan and Chrtian burial prctces, tomb art and symbols, and images of an afterlife.

One pagan idea of an afterlife was a lush green garden predating Christian ideas of heaven.
 
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