I’ve never been a religious person. My father was a renegade Roman Catholic. Though we never really discussed it, I think he objected to the hypocrisy. So there was no question of church or Sunday School. My brother and I were baptised Church of England—because that’s what you did back then. Nonetheless, I’d always assumed that Jesus of the Bible was a real person. As a result of my meanderings through the web on the subjects of Creationism and Intelligent Design (and the utter stupidity of these ideas), I stumbled upon the notion that Jesus wasn’t actually any such thing.
The first discussions I hit upon made reference to a recently published book by Richard Carrier, The Historicity of Jesus. As this book is (a) very expensive, (b) very long (712 pages), and (c) not available in an e-book format, I haven’t read it. One Amazon reviewer describes it as “a devastating argument for a mythical Jesus”. Then yesterday, a much more manageable read appeared in my news feed, 5 reasons to suspect that Jesus never existed. It’s quite a short article (though there are links to other stuff), but the headline five reasons are:
- No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef (Jesus).
- The earliest New Testament writers seem ignorant of the details of Jesus’ life, which become more crystalized in later texts.
- Even the New Testament stories don’t claim to be first-hand accounts.
- The gospels, our only accounts of a historical Jesus, contradict each other.
- Modern scholars who claim to have uncovered the real historical Jesus depict wildly different persons.
I can’t pretend to explore the implications of a mythical Jesus, but it seems to me to be one more nail in the coffin of the idea that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.