Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H
Gormley


REVIEW OF JESUS NEITHER GOD OR MAN THE CASE FOR A MYTHICAL CHRIST 

Jesus Neither God or Man The Case for a Mythical Christ is not a bad book but a bit too fond of arguments from silence and claims of interpolation when Jesus is mentioned in ancient times by writers who were not invested in Christianity. It is too many books in one which makes you wish for it to end. It needs to be shorter and to the point.

Arguments from silence are helpful but only up to a point. If Jesus is nothing special then maybe the silence does not mean much. But if Jesus was God and was able to get a reaction and attention by inspiring unbelievers to think about him and maybe following him then the silence would be very loud indeed! We would expect a lot of critical attention and content from unbelievers in his time. We would see huge determination in them to eradicate faith in him.

It is true that believers were in the business of faking evidence and testimonies and tampered where possible. So you cannot believe or disbelieve any independent testimony for as Christians passed it down to us it is not truly independent.

The main step to show Jesus was probably a myth is to get statements from that time to that effect. Earl Doherty feels that the Jesus of the gospels is a more like a character in a morality play than a real person. In that sense, Jesus is a complete myth.

Paul was the first Christian writer about Jesus though he said shockingly little and avoided anything concrete historically. If he made it all up or imagined it then that could explain why through legend we ended up with the gospels. He gave the skeleton. The later believers or claimed believers put flesh on the bones.

Doherty notes how in 1 Corinthians 15 Paul says he learned of Jesus' death and resurrection according to the scriptures. That can be interpreted as saying that was the only way he heard of them which would make him the first Christian and the true founder of Christianity. According to the scriptures in the Greek is kata tas graphas. Jeremias when asking if the text which seems worded like an old creed actually is said you would expect the creed to start in Aramaic - the language of Jesus' stock and his disciples. He said that nothing in the Aramaic or even the Hebrew is a perfect match for that expression or even egerthe which means he was raised. The best authorities conclude, "Due to the above arguments, it does not seem likely that the creedal material Paul cites took final shape in a Jewish mileu. In the present form it seems not to have definite signs of a Semitic original."https://carm.org/analysis-pre-pauline-creed-1-corinthians-151-11. If so, that bolsters the argument that the doctrines may have started with Paul.

Colossians 2:15 has Paul or somebody who knew his teaching writing that Christ in the cross got rid of the bad angels of the universe who ruled it and maybe the authorities on earth by stripping himself of them. This is an allusion to how he would have been nude on the cross and he deliberately makes a public show of them and leads them along like captives. This is a rejection of a soft liberal Jesus. It is very poetic language. But what it is trying to say? Doherty tries to use it as evidence for a mythical crucifixion but it is really only saying what meaning you can find in the crucifixion.

Earl Doherty says to think according to the scriptures means in fulfilment of the scriptures is off the track. He is right. Paul does not allude to fulfilment so much as the scriptures preaching the gospel. That can mean either they can tell you Jesus died and was risen as in history or that Jesus died and rose

He notes that references to Jesus siblings in the Bible are hard to interpret for even wives are called sisters in 1 Corinthians 9:5. The wording is adelphen gunaika. In 1 Corinthians 6 brother must not go to law against brother - meaning not real brothers but brothers in the Church. Tychicus is called brother in Ephesians 6:21 though he is not. Hebrews 2 is clear that every human being connected to God is literally family with Jesus (verses 11, 12). A psalm verse about literal brothers is even applied to them by Jesus.

The gospels say Jesus raised people from the dead. Doherty thinks Paul could have used these as examples to answer the Corinthians who were saying there is no resurrection from the dead. An Old Testament example seemed to be his style. It is surprising that he never mentioned when Elisha raised a boy. Why did he not say that Jesus preached people would rise again and was too good and holy to lie? That is what is really startling. Doherty missed a decent argument from silence here. Not all such arguments are bad.

Doherty points to Collins who told Lee Strobel that demons exist for the gospels say so. He says that the attitude of people like that is, "We do not need to understand or support with evidence, we need simply to have faith." That is good psychology. When you write something you are trying to communicate and if so you want your writing to be tested and questioned. In a sense, Collins does not really respect the gospels. Its about the religion he has in his head not the truth.

Doherty quotes the research in Backgrounds of Early Christianity by by Everett Ferguson which says that in the worship of Dionysus "the flesh from a living animal and drinking wine could be considered as incorporating the god and his power within". This is important for the Eucharist had to be interpreted in the light of the surrounding culture. If John 6 where eating the living flesh of Jesus and drinking his blood is inspired by that then if the text is eucharistic it is a cannibalistic Eucharist.

Doherty quotes Paul writing that whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup without recognising the body becomes guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. If Jesus is a myth or mystical force or god then is the bread and cup the only body and blood he has? Seeing bread and drink as a person is no different from the times where people saw the world or the tree up the hill as a person, God.

Doherty points to how Psalm 8 which refers to the son of man is treated by Jesus in Hebrews. Jesus says it is about him though it is simply about humanity. Are the two meanings possible? If so then is Jesus some kind of pantheistic creature who is all humankind? Anyway though Hebrews says Jesus had no sin unlike it does not say it meant it literally as similar talk was used of others figures who were simply very good but who were not totally sinless. Many people do feel they have no sin in them. Jesus by using the psalm is claiming to be totally ordinary. That is there are no miracles.

Doherty compares the heavenly place of sacrifice with that of earth. The forever is not not made by human hands according to 9:11. Where Jesus is sacrificed as Doherty says, is incidental to where he was sacrificed. Was Jesus sacrificed there as in crucified? Or did he go there with his blood after being crucified on earth to do the offering?

Hebrews 10 says, "It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”

Jesus then alters a Psalm that does not mention a body being prepared in the original. The notion is either Jesus came into existence as a man to serve God or if he existed beforehand as a spirit that was no good. He had to serve God in a body as a sacrifice. So we are to believe that God wanted Jesus to have a body so much that he no longer wanted offerings and sacrifices though he asked for them in the law! The desperation says it all.

The most important thing that Doherty overlooked is that a Christian altering a psalm to make out that Jesus had a body is admitting there is no evidence that this man ever lived. What has having a body to do with doing God's will anyway?

Doherty notes how Melchizedek simply because Genesis does not take time to mention a father and mother is supposed to mean in Hebrews that he didn't have them! Melchizidek is used to tell us things about Jesus so the idea is that he is a representation of Jesus so Jesus had no parents either. That is implied. The author knows as we do that Genesis says nothing about Melchizidek's background so his saying that the father and mother being unmentioned means he had none is strange and illogical and obviously so. So why does he say it?

Doherty mentions how Paul writes that Jesus was made of heavenly stuff unlike Adam who was made of earthly (1 Corinthians 15:47). This does not fit Jesus having lived as an ordinary man on earth. Paul wrote that Jesus was born of woman. She must have been a host mother.

Doherty says that 2 Corinthians 5:!5 were Paul writes that we know nobody, particularly Jesus, according to the flesh - ie in an nonspiritual way any more. That may hint that Jesus is known sort of psychically which does not render much hope that any living person knew him the empirical way.

Doherty says Hebrews talks of priests on earth and yet that only one priest is real. Jesus is that priest. Hebrews teases rivalry which is why it keeps contrasting the Jewish priesthood with Jesus'. Hebrews says he is different from others who claim to be priests in how he has no sin or need to sacrifice all the time and will not die again and that is why he is the real deal. But it says Melchizidek is the only priest too and is a picture of this only priest. The solution is that Melchizidek is the only real priest ever on earth and a parallel to Jesus alone being priest. Jesus is not a rival for he is in Heaven! Jesus then did not sacrifice his life on earth but in Heaven - in the real temple, the one in Heaven. Hebrews never says Jesus died or rose in this world.

What about what purports to be independent testimony about Jesus? What about Tacitus who said Pilate nailed Christ?

Doherty is right to say that the bit where Tacitus insults Rome by saying it is where all hideous movements and ideas in the world make their centre is an interference. Tacitus would not demean Rome like that. And Jerusalem was the centre of Christianity then. It sounds like an attempt to make Rome the head centre of the Church which happened some time later. So how reliable is our text? We do not know if we can trust it about Christ who incidentally is not said to be Jesus.

Doherty asks why a forger of the testimony of Josephus to Jesus put it where it is instead of naturally after the bit where he wrote about John the Baptist? That could imply the gospels which inseparably linked the two are lying. Doherty shows that Eusebius wrote that the testimony was positioned where Josephus wrote about Pilate. That is in book 18 but before the John material. It is not there now! It is suspect if the testimony was moving around. What else was going on?

Josephus in the current text mentions James the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ. Here is the James text. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done - Flavius Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews Book 20.

The logic is that if Jesus had any chance of being Messiah then James would be in line to the throne and would have had feared royal blood. What if the names have been swapped? What if originally it was, "he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of James, who was called Christ, whose name was Jesus"? Why is James not considered a Christ or potential claimant? Josephus sounds definite that those people had no royal blood. Jesus was a common name and if James's parents married twice there could have been more than one Jesus in the family.

Doherty points out that Justin Martyr told Trypho that the Jews have ordained ministers to go everywhere saying Jesus was a Galilean sham whose disciples stole him from his grave to pretend that he rose from the dead and is now in Heaven. The idea that they went to all that effort when there is so much silence about Jesus is insane. Justin is lying. Why? It sounds like a boast in a way. It is making Jesus out to be so important that the Jewish religion just turned into a debunking industry over him!

Trypho accused the Christians of saying Jesus was crucified and ascended (Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 29). So he was saying it was just their word one had to take for the crucifixion.

Doherty refers to Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth — manifestly that one of which we speak. But what has an eclipse in common with an earthquake, the rending rocks, and the resurrection of the dead, and so great a perturbation throughout the universe? Surely no such event as this is recorded for a long period. But it was a darkness induced by God, because the Lord happened then to suffer. And calculation makes out that the period of 70 weeks, as noted in Daniel, is completed at this time."

There had to be tombs that were opened thanks to earthquakes getting the stones to come free and break. It was easy to invent a tomb story for Jesus when that was the inspiration. His tomb was supposedly found with the stone rolled away.

I just wish to stress how it mentions rocks begin torn apart and says that the earthquake was universal. It is a miracle if this happened and nobody has recorded it or mentioned it apart from one or two.

Doherty quotes the Toledoth to argue that the Jesus story is legend and so the gospels are legend too. They diverge from the gospels hugely. I would remark that if the Jews were not consulting the gospels to get the facts right or half-right then that shows how sure they were that they were insignificant nonsense. Maybe the Jews knew best?

I wish to quote the Toledoth.

"Then, taking him out to the place of punishment they stoned him to death. Then the wise men commanded him to be hung on a tree, but no tree was found that could support him, for all, being frail, were broken. His disciples seeing this, wailed and cried out, Behold the goodness of our Master Yeshu, whom no tree will sustain. But they knew not that he had enchanted all wood when he was in possession of the name. But he knew that he would surely suffer the penalty of hanging, as it is written, When any man shall be judged to death for an offense and shall be put to death, then you shall hang him. Then Judas, when he saw that no wood would hold him up, said to the wise men, Behold the subtlety of this fellow, for he has enchanted the wood that it might not sustain him. But there is in my garden a great stem of a cabbage [carob tree?]; I will go and bring it here; perhaps it will hold the body. To whom the wise men said, Go and do so. So Judas went at once and brought the stalk, and on it Yeshu was hanged. Toward night the wise men said, It is lawful for us to break one letter of the divine law in regard to this fellow; we must do to him what the law demands, even though he did seduce men. Therefore, they buried him where he was stoned.

MY COMMENT: This is clearly Jesus Christ. Remember how the Jews were asking for trouble by saying they hanged Jesus. That shows how convinced they were that they had. That would refute the crucifixion. For all we know, Jesus could have been removed from the tree dead and then crucified by some one trying to make a spectacle of him. All they had to do was nail him to something. It didn't have to be an official crucifixion as the Romans would have engaged in.

Now about the middle of the night his disciples came and sat down by the grave under the brook. Judas, seeing this, took away the body and hid it in his garden under a brook. Diverting the water elsewhere, he buried the body in the channel and then brought the water back. On the morrow, when the disciples came again and sat down to weep, Judas said to them, Why do you weep? Look and see if the buried man is there. And when they looked and found he was not there, the miserable crowd cried out, He is not in the grave but has ascended to heaven. For he foretold this himself when alive, and as if concerning himself the saying was interpreted, But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave; for he shall receive me; Selah.

MY COMMENT: Jesus's body was removed by Judas and thrown into a river? Judas was indeed probably alive when Jesus was buried.

Meanwhile, the Queen, finding out what had been done, commanded the wise men of Israel to appear; and when they came she said to them, What have you done with this man who you have accused of being a sorcerer and a seducer of men? They answered, We have buried him according to the requirement of our law. Then she said, Bring him here to me. And they went and sought for him in the grave, but did not find him. Then returning to the Queen, they said, We know not who has taken him from the grave. The queen answered and said, He is the Son of God and has ascended to his Father in heaven; for thus it is prophesized for him, For he shall receive me; Selah. Then the wise men said, Do not allow these thoughts into your mind, for surely he was a sorcerer; and they gave proof by their own testimony that he was a bastard and the son of an adulteress. The Queen replied, Why do I exchange words with you in vain? For if you bring him here, you shall be found innocent, but if not, none of you will survive. They all responded in these words: Give us time that we can determine the outcome of this affair. Perhaps we may find him there, but if we do not succeed, do unto us whatever pleases you. She allowed them three days time, and they departed, grieved at heart, lamenting, and not knowing what to do.

Therefore they ordered a fast, and when the appointed time came and they had not found the body, many left Jerusalem to escape the sight of the Queen. Among the rest went a certain old man named Rabbi Tanchuma. He in great sorrow, wandering the fields, saw Judas sitting in his own garden, eating. Coming up to him, Rabbi Tanchuma said, How is this? Why do you take food when all the Jews fast and are in sore distress? Judas, greatly astounded, inquired why they fasted. Rabbi Tanchuma replied, It is because of the bastard who has been hung and buried near the place of stoning; he has been taken away from the grave, and none of us know who has taken him. But his worthless disciples declare that he has gone up to heaven, and the Queen threatened all of us Israelites with death unless we find him. Then Judas asked, If this fellow shall be found, will it bring safety to the Israelites? Rabbi Tanchuma said, Indeed it will. Then said Judas, Come, and I will show you the man, for I took him away from the grave because I feared that perhaps the impious followers might steal him from the tomb, and I hid him in my garden, and made the brook run over him. Then Rabbi Tanchuma hastened to the wise men of Israel and related the matter.

Therefore they all assembled, and tying the body to a horse's tail, brought it and threw it down before the Queen, saying, Behold the man of whom you have said, He has gone up to heaven. When the Queen saw him, she was overwhelmed with shame and unable to speak. Moreover, while the body was dragged about for some time, the hair of the head was pulled out. And this is the reason why now the hair of a monk is shaved off in the middle of the head; it is done in remembrance of what happened to Yeshu.

MY COMMENT: Like Magalene, if the Jews had any sense they would simply just say that they don't know who stole the body. They would not really be blaming his disciples.

Ben Stada was hanged according to Jewish lore and he seems to be Jesus. This could fit the crucifixion claim for the Romans did sometimes crucify dead bodies as an example or spectacle. Crucifixion was about show and fear-mongering more than execution.

It has been suspected long ago that Jesus was involved in terrorism and this has been covered up. It explains why he was executed as a terrorist. Doherty quotes Severus. It is a pity Doherty didn't point out Severus' implication that Christians and Jews were engaging in terrorism. Regarding the destruction of the Temple in the first century, "The number of those who suffered death is related to have been eleven hundred thousand, and one hundred thousand were taken captive and sold. Titus is said, after calling a council, to have first deliberated whether he should destroy the temple, a structure of such extraordinary work. For it seemed good to some that a sacred edifice, distinguished above all human achievements, ought not to be destroyed, inasmuch as, if preserved, it would furnish an evidence of Roman moderation, but, if destroyed, would serve for a perpetual proof of Roman cruelty. But on the opposite side, others and Titus himself thought that the temple ought specially to be overthrown, in order that the religion of the Jews and of the Christians might more thoroughly be subverted; for that these religions, although contrary to each other, had nevertheless proceeded from the same authors; that the Christians had sprung up from among the Jews; and that, if the root were extirpated, the offshoot would speedily perish. Thus, according to the divine will, the minds of all being inflamed, the temple was destroyed, three hundred and thirty-one years ago. And this last overthrow of the temple, and final captivity of the Jews, by which, being exiles from their native land, they are beheld scattered through the whole world, furnish a daily demonstration to the world, that they have been punished on no other account than for the impious hands which they laid upon Christ."

Doherty mentions how Christians was so unknown as a term that writers were using Chrestians at the time when there should have been a reasonable number around.

Doherty tries to turn the gospels into midrash - symbolic tales not to be taken as history but which copy and use Old Testament plots - but they don't claim to be midrash and plus the constant use of words meaning reliable oral tradition and claimed testimony from witnesses proves they are not. They are lies pure and simple. The gospels do borrow from the Old Testament but not in a midrash way. Joseph Smith stole Bible plots for the Book of Mormon and the same thing happened here.

The notion of the gospels being midrash is apparently compatible with them being history. Midrash would only refer to the history being written in a certain way - a preaching way full of rich learning opportunities.

Doherty certainly proves that the non-existence of Jesus is a possibility. Christians invented things as big as Jesus as got away with it. For example, claiming to be a very prevalent religion soon after Jesus died. That is totally false.

The religion is based on Jesus but Jesus is basically a hero who was victimised by the Jews. It makes for a good story but the Jewish Holocaust is the ultimate fruit. So the antisemitism of Christianity is inherent. This is not truly a religion of love but selective love. Here is one text that demonises the Jews as being hateful to everybody. And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. See 1 Thessalonians 2.

That is a lot of very big lies. They are big enough to make you question everything about them.

Nothing changes the fact that Hebrews chapter 8 says Jesus did not suffer the crucifixion sacrifice on earth.

3 Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer.

4 If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.

My comment on that is that if they are not real priests anyway as the letter says that should not matter. The lapse in logic shows that the author is just desperate to argue AGAINST those who say Jesus was on earth.

That is the last word.

APPENDIX

NOTE ON HEBREWS 8:4 


Here is what Paul Ellingworth has to say about this passage in his commentary [Hebrews, p. 405]: The second difficulty concerns the meaning of the two occurrences of ēn. The imperfect in unreal [contrafactual] conditions is temporally ambiguous (BD § 360 [3]), so that NEB ‘Now if he had been on earth, he would not even have been a priest’(so Attridge) is grammatically possible. However, it goes against the context, in at least apparently excluding Christ’s present ministry, and it could also be misunderstood as meaning that Jesus had never ‘been on earth.’  Most versions accordingly render: ‘If he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all’(REB, NJB; similarly RSV, TEV, NIV…). 87 Thus, if the imperfect in contrafactual conditions is indeed “temporally ambiguous,” we cannot appeal to the general grammatical rule to place verse 4 in the present. (We should also note in passing how preconception can govern scholarly decision-making, in that a past sense is being ruled out, even though “grammatically possible,” because it contravenes Gospel-based assumptions.) The choice, then, lies between an understanding in the present and an understanding in the past. But this is a choice which is absolutely critical. Since the statement is contrafactual, a past understanding would make it a clear denial that Jesus had been on earth in the past.