One of my areas of research is the Jesus Myth Theory. This theory claims that Jesus of Nazareth never existed and the Jesus of the Gospels is based on pagan myths.
I have some major problems with this theory and this is not just because I’m a Christian. Even if I became an atheist, I could never embrace the Jesus Myth Theory.
My problem with the Jesus Myth Theory is not just about what it says about orthodox Christian theology (although I do have major concerns) but how they do history.
I thought that I would share some of the problems with the Jesus Myth Theory. Whether one is religious or not, these are real problems.
- They do not take chronology seriously when it comes to explaining cause and effect. They will use second to fourth century Gospels as being more original than first century Gospels. They don’t care if our texts about Mithras or Plutarch’s writing about Osiris and Isis are later than the New Testament.
- They dismiss all texts that contradict their theory. If there is a verse in the New Testament that is evidence against their case, they reject it as a later addition. They do this even if there is no textual evidence for such an addition.
- They misrepresent the mythological stories. Even if you do not care about the Bible, you should care that they make statements about myths that are simply not true. Most of the claims of the mythicists would not be evident by simply reading the myths for themselves.
- The standards they use for the historicity of Jesus are not the same standards used by professional historians. Historians accept the existence of other ancient figures with far less evidence. We have a wealth of historical evidence for Jesus.
- They make an artificial divide between “sacred” and “profane” texts. They reject the New Testament as historical evidence because of its status as Scripture. The truth is that much of ancient writings (including histories) had a religious or philosophical bias. The ancients would never separate religious from secular history. That is a modern construction.
These are just some of the problems with the Jesus Myth Theory.