I’m a former Catholic. After some research, I have doubts that Jesus existed.
When you question religion, some people freak out, especially if you make a lot of sense. Losing one’s religion can raise many fears. It is my belief that a person without religion will not run amok. Even without religion, you have a human responsibility to follow the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. About saving your eternal soul: I don’t believe we have immortal immaterial essences. You can stimulate part of the brain during surgery and someone will be instantly outside of their body. Stop the stimulation and they are back. Works every time. Consciousness is a brain function. Put the right chemicals in the brain and people go unconscious. My consciousness did not exist before I was born, and I have no reason to believe it will continue after I expire. ( Yet, there is exciting research by science into replacing organs with stem cell technology. Some of us alive today might outlive Methuselah! ) Non-existence is painless. No need to fear it. Another interesting option is that the nature of reality may be that we never actually die… or when we do, our consciousness just branches off to a different universe. Perhaps that’s what happened when I had a dream I died that one time… perhaps our misunderstanding of space-time and alternate universes explains reincarnation.
On to the search for the historical Jesus:
The evidence for his life seems to be only the Gospels which didn’t show up until over 100 years after he was gone.
A gospel (from Old English, gōd spell “good news“) is a writing that describes the life of Jesus. The word is primarily used to refer to the four canonical gospels: the Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Luke and Gospel of John, probably written between AD 65 and 110. They appear to have been originally untitled; they were quoted anonymously in the first half of the second century (i.e. 100–150) but the names by which they are currently known appear suddenly around the year 180.
If the Gospels are, as they seem to be, separate accounts by different people who knew Jesus personally, why are parts of Matthew and Luke identical? This is known as the Synoptic problem.
We are in the age of “spam,” the age of computer viruses and email hoaxes. Email hoaxers often exactly “cut and paste” the text from a previous hoax to create a new one. Is this the real solution to the Synopic problem?
I wondered if the Gospels were partly a Roman deception after they won against the Jews in order to keep their vanquished foes peaceful. Perhaps not. The Gospel stories seem to have evolved organically because they had a ring of truth and they helped people. Parts of the Gospels are certainly based on real history. But then so was Homer’s Odyssey, it seems …
The Jesus story, which borrows from or parallels other savior stories (Mithra, Horus, Osiris, Zarathustra, Tammuz, etc. ) seems to be a thought virus born not from the designs of a Roman hacker, but from basic human needs for mental protection from life’s troubles. The story says something important about the human mind. We aspire to truth, fairness, clean living, immortality, and super powers.
We have problems. We always have had problems, and we’ve always known that. This explains the 10 commandments, and before that, the 42 Principles of Ma’at, upon which the 10 commandments are based. You can’t deny the similarities.
A “trojan” in computer security terms is a program which seems useful but delivers an evil payload. It is an age of deception… but this is nothing new.
The modern word comes from the story of the Trojan Horse in the writings of an ancient Roman poet (Virgil) who died in 19 BCE, years before Christ. This is the most famous deception from the time of Christ, the one most people know, and it is clear evidence that great war time deception was practiced in that time period, in this case, by Odysseus, a Greek king.
I grew up thinking Jesus was so important in his time that the calendars were all changed based on his birth! Why else would we have AD and BC (“After Death” and “Before Christ”) when talking about ancient times? I now know that the people then did not use these designations for the years.
“The AD/BC notation was first proposed by the monk Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Little) in the year 525 CE.” – religioustolerance
I never bothered to check my assumption… until now. I read Gilgamesh a few years ago and saw in that very old story a more complete and quite different account of the later Bible stories I’d heard. This led me to start questioning everything.
Jesus Christ did not make the list of the 101 most influential people who never lived, but if he never existed, he certainly should. I’m astonished that not one person has been able to show archaeological evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus … or even clear evidence for one of the 12 Apostles… beyond written stories.
We have archaeological evidence for people who lived after and before Jesus Christ:
- Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon (356–323 BC). After 200 CE, his body went missing from the tomb, but it had been around for a long time. In addition to stories, we have hard archaeological evidence. We know Alexander lived and we know what this person who lived 323 years BCE looked like because there are coins and a Roman copy of a statue by Lysippus, in the Louvre Museum.
- Plato (~428 BC to ~347 BC), unlike Jesus and Alexander, did a lot of writing when he lived and his students wrote about him. We know what Plato looked like because we have physical evidence, a bust by Silanion, a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC. He died at 81. He was supposedly buried on the grounds of the Academy, the school he founded, after his death around 348. No one has located his grave because in 86 BC, Lucius Cornelius Sulla “ravaged the Academy”, which was about 2.5 km from the Acropolis near Colonus Hippius. Today its modern name is Kolonos and it is a densely populated working-class district of the Municipality of Athens. }
- Odysseus – called Ulysses in Latin (~1184 BC) – The date of the Trojan War Odysseus won was given as 1194–1184 BC by Eratosthenes. Odysseus was, according to legend, the inventor of the large wooden horse that allowed him to take the city of Troy. Once thought to be a mythical person, a discovery in 2005 revealed that Paliki on the Ionian island of Cephallonia (aka Kefalonia), near Ithaki, was Odysseus’ homeland. Visitors to Kefalonia, an octopus-shaped island off the west coast of Greece, can see the evidence for themselves. Archaeological evidence includes a gold brooch on display in the archeological museum at Argostoli that matches the description in Book XIX of Homer’s “Odyssey.”
- Gilgamesh (Bilgameṣ) of Ur (~2700 BC according to the Sumerian king list. ) – “central character in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the greatest surviving work of early Mesopotamian literature. In the epic his father was Lugalbanda and his mother was Ninsun (whom some call Rimat Ninsun), a goddess. Gilgamesh is described as two parts god and one part man.” If you read the Epic of Gilgamesh, you will find the flood story, a rib (CORRECTION: A ROCK) which becomes a person, an evil serpent and many more elements which made it into the Old Testament bible story. The Euphrates river was temporarily diverted to build his tomb, and then, as was the custom then, his entire household was buried alive with him in the tomb and the water was diverted back over it.
Accuracy takes a back seat to an emotionally moving story passed on mostly by word of mouth. This is the result of the way our memories work. We forget so easily.
I suggest we look at ancient history with fresh eyes, that it is worthwhile to sort the myth from reality, where possible. Is there evidence for characters mentioned in the bible? What is the historical evidence that Joseph, Moses, Saul, David and Solomon actually lived three to four thousand years ago? Were Joseph and Imhotep of Egypt The Same Man?
Was there a historical Jesus? If you are certain, where is the evidence? Perhaps this is the tomb of Jesus in
Jesus as myth
The views of scholars who entirely rejected Jesus’ historicity were summarized in Will Durant‘s Caesar and Christ, published in 1944. Their rejections were based on a suggested lack of eyewitnesses, a lack of direct archaeological evidence, the failure of ancient works to mention Jesus, and similarities early Christianity shares with then-contemporary religion and mythology.
More recently, arguments for non-historicity have been discussed by George Albert Wells, Earl Doherty (The Jesus Puzzle, 1999), Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries) and Robert M. Price. Doherty, for example, maintains that the earliest records of Christian beliefs (the earliest epistles) contain almost no reference to the historical Jesus, which only appears in the Gospel accounts. He suggests that these are best explained if Christianity began as a mythic savior cult, with no specific historical figure in mind. – wikipedia
Isn’t it surprising that, given the boundless energy of Christians and their strong desire to prove their faith, that we have better physical evidence for Odysseus than Jesus Christ? (Does someone have a photo of Odysseus’s gold brooch from the Argostoli museum? It would be surprising since we would not expect the Cyclopes that Ulysses fought to be real. And what of the Sirens? What of Medusa? And Cerberus/ Kerberos? Will we someday know the exact roots of these myths? The Greeks and Christians stories contain many elements from earlier Egyptian stories … who adapted some of their stories from the Summarians.
“The Sumerian language is the earliest known written language. The “proto-literate” period of Sumerian writing spans ca. 3500 to 3000 BCE.”
Inanna and Jesus both travel to a big city, where they are arrested by soldiers, put on trial, convicted, sentenced to death, stripped of their clothes, tortured, hung up on a stake, and die. And then, after 3 days, they are resurrected from the dead….
The 2nd part of the Inanna myth really focuses on her husband Dumuzi. Dumuzi is the prototype of the non-aggressive, non-heroic male; he cries easily; he is the opposite of the warrior-god in the ancient pantheon. …The summer month which corresponds to our month of July is named after him in both the Babylonian and Hebrew calendars, and during this month each year his followers, mostly women, mourn his death. From this myth we are talking about, and from a few other references, we also know that he is resurrected. But unlike Jesus, who dies and is resurrected once, he is imagined to die and be resurrected over and over, each year. … there really are a lot of similarities between the personalities and the stories of Jesus and Dumuzi. They both are tortured and die violent deaths after being betrayed by a close friend, who accepts a bribe from his enemies. They both have a father who is a god and a mother who is human. Dumuzi’s father, the god Enki, also has many similarities to Yahweh, the father of Jesus.
… Inanna becomes known outside of Mesopotamia by her Babylonian name, “Ishtar”. She is a personification of Venus as an evening star, and there is also a male aspect of the deity who is usually the morning star. At the end of the Book of Revelation when Christ speaks to John he says, “I am the bright morning star.” In ancient Canaan Ishtar is known as Astarte, and her counterparts in the Greek and Roman pantheons are known as Aphrodite and Venus. In the 4th Century, when Christians got around to identifying the exact site in Jerusalem where the empty tomb of Jesus had been located, they selected the spot where a temple of Aphrodite (Astarte/Ishtar/Inanna) stood. So they tore it down and built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest church in the Christian world. – huffingtonpost
Nothing new under the sun. Is the Son?