Christ myth theory

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The Christ myth theory (also known as Jesus myth theory or Jesus mythicism) is an umbrella term that applies to a range of arguments that in one way or another question the existence of Jesus of Nazareth or the entirety of his life story as described in the Christian gospels. The most extreme versions of the myth theories contend that there was no real historical figure Jesus and that he was invented by early Christians. Other variants hold that there was a person called Jesus, but almost all teachings and miracles attributed to him were either invented or symbolic references, or that the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament is a composite character constructed from multiple people over a period of time.


The neutrality of this article is disputed.
Please see the relevant discussion on the talk page.


Definition[edit]

Pre-1950[edit]

  • While all Freethinkers are agreed that the Christ of the New Testament is a myth they are not, as we have seen, and perhaps never will be, fully agreed as to the nature of this myth. Some believe that he is a historical myth; others that he is a pure myth. Some believe that Jesus, a real person, was the germ of this Christ whom subsequent generations gradually evolved; others contend that the man Jesus, as well as the Christ, is wholly a creation of the human imagination. After carefully weighing the evidence and arguments in support of each hypothesis the writer, while refraining from expressing a dogmatic affirmation regarding either, is compelled to accept the former as the more probable.
Remsburg, John E. (1909). The Christ. New York: Truth Seeker Co. ISBN 0879759240. 
  • Negative as these [hyper-minimalist] conclusions appear, they must be strictly distinguished from the theories of the mythologists. According to the critics whom we may term minimalists, Jesus did live, but his biography is almost totally unknown to us. The mythologists, on the other hand, declare that he never existed, and that his history, or more exactly the legend about him, is due to the working of various tendencies and events, such as the prophetic interpretation of Old Testament texts, visions, ecstasy, or the projection of the conditions under which the first group of Christians lived into the story of their reputed founder.
Maurice Goguel, "Recent French Discussion of the Historical Existence of Jesus Christ", Harvard Theological Review 19 (2), 1926, pp. 117–118
  • My theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth
Frazer, Sir James George (1913) The golden bough: a study in magic and religion: Volume 9 Page 412;
I especially wanted to explain late Jewish eschatology more thoroughly and to discuss the works of John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, James George Frazer, Arthur Drews, and others, who contested the historical existence of Jesus. It is not difficult to pretend that Jesus never lived. The attempt to prove it, however, invariably produces the opposite conclusion.
Schweitzer, Albert 1931 Out of my life and thought: an autobiography pg 125
  • But the sociological fashion reflected in the rise of Formgeschichte leads colour to Christ-myth theories and indeed to all theories which regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure."
Wood, Herbert George (1934) Christianity and the nature of history, MacMillan (New York, Cambridge, [Eng.] : The University Press pg 40
  • (John) Robertson is prepared to concede the possibility of an historical Jesus perhaps more than one having contributed something to the Gospel story. "A teacher or teachers named Jesus, or several differently named teachers called Messiahs " (of whom many are on record) may have uttered some of the sayings in the Gospels.
1 The Jesus of the Talmud, who was stoned and hanged over a century before the traditional date of the crucifixion, may really have existed and have contributed something to the tradition.
2 An historical Jesus may have "preached a political doctrine subversive of the Roman rule, and . . . thereby met his death " ; and Christian writers concerned to conciliate the Romans may have suppressed the facts.
3 Or a Galilean faith-healer with a local reputation may have been slain as a human sacrifice at some time of social tumult ; and his story may have got mixed up with the myth.
4 The myth theory is not concerned to deny such a possibility. What the myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded
Robertson, Archibald 1946 Jesus: Myth or History?

1950s[edit]

  • "His published work on the Synoptic Problem had already contributed towards exploding the theory of the “Christ-myth”—that Jesus as a historical person never existed—by providing the two oldest records of His life to be genuine historical documents."
George Seaver, Albert Schweitzer: The Man and His Mind, New York: Harper, 1955, p. 45
  • "Belief in Christ is no more or less rational than belief in John Frum."
Worsley, Peter (1957) The Trumpet Shall Sound: A Study of "Cargo" Cults in Melanesia London: Macgibbon & Kee pp. 153–9.

1960s[edit]

  • ...on the one hand, literal acceptance of everything in the New Testament as the veridical record of what happened, and, on the other, some form of Christ-myth theory which denies that there ever was a Jesus.
John Macquarrie, The Scope of Demythologizing: Bultmann and His Critics, London: SCM, 1960, p. 93
  • There have even been learned and intelligent men who have denied that Jesus ever existed: the so-called "Christ-myth" theory.
Donald MacKenzie MacKinnon, Objections to Christian Belief, London: Constable, 1963, p. 67
  • For as "extreme" a critic as Rudolf Bultmann, the existence of the historical Jesus is a necessity; and if historical criticism could successfully establish the "Christ-myth" theory, viz., that Jesus never really lived, Bultmann’s enture theological structure would be shaken.
George Eldon Ladd, The New Testament and Criticism, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967, p. 15

1970s[edit]

  • The Christ-Myth theory (that Jesus never lived) had a certain vogue at the beginning of this century but is not supported by contemporary scholarship.
Alan Richardson, The Political Christ, London: SCM, 1973, p. 113
  • The radical solution was to deny the possibility of reliable knowledge of Jesus, and out of this developed the Christ myth theory, according to which Jesus never existed as a historical figure and the Christ of the Gospels was a social creation of a messianic community.
William R. Farmer, "A Fresh Approach to Q", in Jacob Neusner, Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults, 4, Leiden: Brill, 1975, p. 43

1980s[edit]

  • In Germany, England, Holland, America, and France, a group of scholars developed the hypothesis that Christ had never lived at all, the Christ-myth theory.
Margaret Hope Bacon, Let This Life Speak: The Legacy of Henry Joel Cadbury‎, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987, p. 22

1990s[edit]

  • If this account of the matter is correct, one can also see why it is that the 'Christ-myth' theory, to the effect that there was no historical Jesus at all, has seemed so plausible to many...
Hugo A. Meynell, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Bernard Lonergan (2nd ed.), Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 166
  • [W]e have to explain the origin of Christianity, and in so doing we have to choose between two alternatives. One alternative is to say that it originated in a myth which was later dressed up as history. The other is to say that it originated with one historical individual who was later mythologized into a supernatural being. The theory that Jesus was originally a myth is called the Christ-myth theory, and the theory that he was an historical individual is called the historical Jesus theory.
George Walsh, The Role of Religion in History, New Brunswick: Transaction, 1998, p. 58

2000s[edit]

  • The Jesus-was-a-myth school... argue[s] that there never was a Jesus of Nazareth, that he never existed.
Clinton Bennett, In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images, New York: Continuum, 2001, p. 202
  • Defense of Biblical criticism was not helped by the revival at this time of the 'Christ-Myth' theory, suggesting that Jesus had never existed, a suggestion rebutted in England by the radical but independent F. C. Conybeare.
William Horbury, "The New Testament", in Ernest Nicholson, A Century of Theological and Religious Studies in Britain, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 55
  • Price uncritically embraces the dubious methods and results of the Jesus Seminar, adopts much of the (discredited) Christ-Myth theory from the nineteenth century (in which it was argued that Jesus never lived), and so on.
Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006) p. 25
  • Zindler depends on secondary works and writes with the aim of proving the Christ-Myth theory, namely, the theory that the Jesus of history never existed.
John T. Townsend, "Christianity in Rabbinic Literature", in Isaac Kalimi & Peter J. Haas, Biblical Interpretation in Judaism and Christianity (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2006) p. 150
  • As we have noted, some legendary-Jesus theorists argue that, while it is at least possible, if not likely, an actual historical person named Jesus existed, he is so shrouded in legendary material that we can know very little about him. Others (i.e, Christ myth theorists) argue that we have no good reason to believe there ever was an actual historical person behind the legend.
Paul R Eddy & Gregory A. Boyd, The Jesus Legend: a Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007) p. 165
  • Though [Charles Guignebert] could not accept either the Christ myth theory, which held that no historical Jesus existed, or the Dutch Radical denial that Paul authored any of the epistles, Guignebert took both quite seriously.
Robert M. Price, in Tom Flynn, The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007) p. 372

2010s[edit]

  • Carrier's Minimal Historical Jesus:
1) An actual man at some point named Jesus acquired followers in life who continued as an identifiable movement after his death
2) This is the same Jesus who was claimed by some of his follower to have been executed by the Jewish or Roman authorities
3) This is the same Jesus some of whose follower soon began worshiping as a living god (or demigod)
"If any one of these premises is false, it can fairly be said there was no historical Jesus in any pertinent sense, And at least one of them must be false for any Jesus Myth theory to be true."
Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 pg 34
"But notice that now we don't even require that is considered essential in many church creeds. For instance, it is not necessary that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Maybe he was, But even if we proved he wasn't that still does not vindicate mysticism. Because the 'real' Jesus may have been executed by Herod Antipas (as the Gospel of Peter in fact claims) or by Roman authorities in an earlier or later decade then Pilate (as some early Christians really did think) Some scholars even argue for an earlier century (and have some real evidence to cite)[61] … My point at present is that even if we proved proved the founder of Christianity was executed by Herod the Great (not even by Romans, much less Pilate, and a whole forty years before the Gospels claim), as long as his name or nickname (whether assigned before or after his death) really was Jesus and his execution is the very thing spoken of as leading him to the status of the divine Christ venerated in the Epistles, I think it would be fair to say the mythicists are then simply wrong. I would say this even if Jesus was never really executed but only believed to have been Because even then it's still the same historical man being spoken of and worshiped."
Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 pg 33
  • Carrier's Minimal Mythical Jesus:
"1) At the origin of Christianity, Jesus Christ was thought to be a celestial deity much like any other.
2) Like many other celestial deities, this Jesus 'communicated' with his subjects only through dreams, visions and other forms of divine inspi­ration (such as prophecy, past and present).
3) Like some other celestial deities, this Jesus was originally believed to have endured an ordeal of incarnation, death, burial and resurrection in a supernatural realm.
4) As for many other celestial deities, an allegorical story of this same Jesus was then composed and told within the sacred community, which placed him on earth, in history, as a divine man, with an earthly family, companions, and enemies, complete with deeds and sayings, and an earthly depiction of his ordeals.
5) Subsequent communities of worshipers believed (or at least taught) that this invented sacred story was real (and either not allegorical or only 'additionally' allegorical).
That all five propositions are true shall be my minimal Jesus myth theory"
Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 pg 53

Quotes of proponents of such theories[edit]

This section needs quotes
  • The terms "mythicism" and "mythicist" may be new to many people, even though they have been around for a couple of centuries. "Mythicist" was first coined in German and English to describe people who doubted the historical veracity of the Judeo-Christian Bible. The word is used these days particularly to define scholars, researchers and others who investigate whether or not the New Testament character of Jesus Christ was a real, historical person or a myth along the lines of the gods, godmen and heroes of other cultures, such as Hercules, Mithra or Horus.
  • Mythicism represents the perspective that many gods, goddesses and other heroes and legendary figures said to possess extraordinary and/or supernatural attributes are not "real people" but are in fact mythological characters. Along with this view comes the recognition that many of these figures personify or symbolize natural phenomena, such as the sun, moon, stars, planets, constellations, etc., constituting what is called "astromythology" or "astrotheology." As a major example of the mythicist position, it is determined that various biblical characters such as Adam and Eve, Satan, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon and Jesus Christ, among other entities, in reality represent mythological figures along the same lines as the Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek, Roman and other godmen, who are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures.
    • D. M. Murdock/Acharya S. in Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection (2009)
  • Now until some convincing piece of evidence about a Biblical, historical or purely mythical Jesus (or the beliefs of the earliest Christians) is found in future, it seems that the most rational position on Jesus would be a complete rejection of the ‘Christ of Faith’ or ‘Biblical Jesus’, and holding to an agnostic-type position on a more mundane, ‘Historical Jesus’. Maybe there was such a Jesus, maybe there was not. In the absence of convincing evidence, it is possible, but not necessarily probable, and certainly not certain.

Quotes rejecting such theories[edit]

1950s[edit]

  • His published work on the Synoptic Problem had already contributed towards exploding the theory of the “Christ-myth”—that Jesus as a historical person never existed—by providing the two oldest records of His life to be genuine historical documents."
George Seaver, Albert Schweitzer: The Man and His Mind, New York: Harper, 1955, p. 45

1960s[edit]

  • ...on the one hand, literal acceptance of everything in the New Testament as the veridical record of what happened, and, on the other, some form of Christ-myth theory which denies that there ever was a Jesus.
John Macquarrie, The Scope of Demythologizing: Bultmann and His Critics, London: SCM, 1960, p. 93
  • There have even been learned and intelligent men who have denied that Jesus ever existed: the so-called "Christ-myth" theory.
Donald MacKenzie MacKinnon, Objections to Christian Belief, London: Constable, 1963, p. 67
  • For as "extreme" a critic as Rudolf Bultmann, the existence of the historical Jesus is a necessity; and if historical criticism could successfully establish the "Christ-myth" theory, viz., that Jesus never really lived, Bultmann’s enture theological structure would be shaken.
George Eldon Ladd, The New Testament and Criticism, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967, p. 15

1970s[edit]

  • The Christ-Myth theory (that Jesus never lived) had a certain vogue at the beginning of this century but is not supported by contemporary scholarship.
Alan Richardson, The Political Christ, London: SCM, 1973, p. 113
  • The radical solution was to deny the possibility of reliable knowledge of Jesus, and out of this developed the Christ myth theory, according to which Jesus never existed as a historical figure and the Christ of the Gospels was a social creation of a messianic community.
William R. Farmer, "A Fresh Approach to Q", in Jacob Neusner, Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults, 4, Leiden: Brill, 1975, p. 43

1980s[edit]

  • In Germany, England, Holland, America, and France, a group of scholars developed the hypothesis that Christ had never lived at all, the Christ-myth theory.
Margaret Hope Bacon, Let This Life Speak: The Legacy of Henry Joel Cadbury‎, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987, p. 22

1990s[edit]

  • If this account of the matter is correct, one can also see why it is that the 'Christ-myth' theory, to the effect that there was no historical Jesus at all, has seemed so plausible to many...
Hugo A. Meynell, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Bernard Lonergan (2nd ed.), Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 166
  • [W]e have to explain the origin of Christianity, and in so doing we have to choose between two alternatives. One alternative is to say that it originated in a myth which was later dressed up as history. The other is to say that it originated with one historical individual who was later mythologized into a supernatural being. The theory that Jesus was originally a myth is called the Christ-myth theory, and the theory that he was an historical individual is called the historical Jesus theory.
George Walsh, The Role of Religion in History, New Brunswick: Transaction, 1998, p. 58

2000s[edit]

  • The Jesus-was-a-myth school... argue[s] that there never was a Jesus of Nazareth, that he never existed.
Clinton Bennett, In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images, New York: Continuum, 2001, p. 202
  • Defense of Biblical criticism was not helped by the revival at this time of the 'Christ-Myth' theory, suggesting that Jesus had never existed, a suggestion rebutted in England by the radical but independent F. C. Conybeare.
William Horbury, "The New Testament", in Ernest Nicholson, A Century of Theological and Religious Studies in Britain, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 55
  • Price uncritically embraces the dubious methods and results of the Jesus Seminar, adopts much of the (discredited) Christ-Myth theory from the nineteenth century (in which it was argued that Jesus never lived), and so on.
Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006) p. 25
  • Zindler depends on secondary works and writes with the aim of proving the Christ-Myth theory, namely, the theory that the Jesus of history never existed.
John T. Townsend, "Christianity in Rabbinic Literature", in Isaac Kalimi & Peter J. Haas, Biblical Interpretation in Judaism and Christianity (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2006) p. 150
  • As we have noted, some legendary-Jesus theorists argue that, while it is at least possible, if not likely, an actual historical person named Jesus existed, he is so shrouded in legendary material that we can know very little about him. Others (i.e, Christ myth theorists) argue that we have no good reason to believe there ever was an actual historical person behind the legend.
Paul R Eddy & Gregory A. Boyd, The Jesus Legend: a Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007) p. 165
  • Though [Charles Guignebert] could not accept either the Christ myth theory, which held that no historical Jesus existed, or the Dutch Radical denial that Paul authored any of the epistles, Guignebert took both quite seriously.
Robert M. Price, in Tom Flynn, The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007) p. 372

Statements against the theories[edit]

Pre-1970s[edit]

  • There is, lastly, a group of writers who endeavor to prove that Jesus never lived--that the story of his life is made up by mingling myths of heathen gods, Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, Greek, etc. No real scholar regards the work of these men seriously. They lack the most elementary knowledge of historical research. Some of them are eminent scholars in other subjects, such as Assyriology and mathematics, but their writings about the life of Jesus have no more claim to be regarded as historical than Alice in Wonderland or the Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
George Aaron Barton, Jesus of Nazareth: A Biography, New York: Macmillan, 1922, p. x
  • An extreme view along these lines is one which denies even the historical existence of Jesus Christ—a view which, one must admit, has not managed to establish itself among the educated, outside a little circle of amateurs and cranks, or to rise above the dignity of the Baconian theory of Shakespeare.
Edwyn Robert Bevan, Hellenism And Christianity (2nd ed.), London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1930, p. 256

1970s[edit]

  • I am of the opinion (and it is an opinion shared by every serious historian) that the [Christ myth] theory is historically untenable.
Willi Marxsen, The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970, p. 119
  • But in contrast to the Christ-myth theories which proliferated at an earlier time, it would seem that today almost all reputable scholars do accept that Jesus existed and that the basic facts about him are well established.
John Macquarrie, "The Humanity of Christ", in Theology, Vol. 74 (London: SPCK, 1971) p. 247
  • In the 1910's a few scholars did argue that Jesus never existed and was simply the figment of speculative imagination. This denial of the historicity of Jesus does not commend itself to scholars, moderates or extremists, any more. … The "Christ-myth" theories are not accepted or even discussed by scholars today.
Samuel Sandmel, A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament‎, New York: Ktav, 1974, p. 196

1980s[edit]

  • [T]he view that there was no historical Jesus, that his earthly existence is a fiction of earliest Christianity—a fiction only later made concrete by setting his life in the first century—is today almost totally rejected.
G. A. Wells, The Historical Evidence for Jesus, Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1988, p. 218

1990s[edit]

  • Virtually all biblical scholars acknowledge that there is enough information from ancient non-Christian sources to give the lie to the myth (still, however, widely believed in popular circles and by some scholars in other fields--see esp. G. A. Wells) which claims that Jesus never existed.
Craig L. Blomberg, "Gospels (Historical Reliability)", in Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight & I. Howard Marshall, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992, p. 292
  • The scholarly mainstream, in contrast to Bauer and company, never doubted the existence of Jesus or his relevance for the founding of the Church.
Craig A. Evans, "Life-of-Jesus Research and the Eclipse of Mythology", Theological Studies 54, 1993, p. 8
  • To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars'. In recent years 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus'—or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.
Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels, New York: Scribner, 1995, p. 200
  • In the late nineteenth century some very skeptical historians proposed that Jesus of Nazareth never existed. He was a myth, based on the Egyptian sun god and other pagan myths. No one takes these arguments seriously anymore. There is virtually universal agreement that there was such a person as Jesus.
Stephen M. Wylen, The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction, Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1995, p. 114
  • The data we have are certainly adequate to confute the view that Jesus never lived, a view that no one holds in any case
Charles E. Carlston, in Bruce Chilton & Craig A. Evans (eds.) Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research, Leiden: Brill, 1998, p. 3
  • Although it is held by Marxist propaganda writers that Jesus never lived and that the Gospels are pure creations of the imagination, this is not the view of even the most radical Gospel critics.
Bernard L. Ramm, An Evangelical Christology: Ecumenic and Historic, Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1999, p. 159

2000s[edit]

  • Today only an eccentric would claim that Jesus never existed.
Leander Keck, Who Is Jesus?: History in Perfect Tense, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2000, p. 13
  • Of course, only a lunatic fringe has ever thought that Jesus did not exist at all.
Bernard McGinn, Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil, New York: Columbia University Press, 2000, p. 34
  • Although Wells has been probably the most able advocate of the nonhistoricity theory, he has not been persuasive and is now almost a lone voice for it. The theory of Jesus' nonexistence is now effectively dead as a scholarly question." and "The nonhistoricity thesis has always been controversial, and it has consistently failed to convince scholars of many disciplines and religious creeds... Biblical scholars and classical historians now regard it as effectively refuted.
Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000, pp. 14 & 16
  • Today, nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically. There is general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first or second century Jewish or pagan religious teacher.
Graham Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus (2nd ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002, p. xxiii
  • If one were able to survey the members of the major learned societies dealing with antiquity, it would be difficult to find more than a handful who believe that Jesus of Nazareth did not walk the dusty roads of Palestine in the first three decades of the Common Era. Evidence for Jesus as a historical personage is incontrovertible.
W. Ward Gasque, "The Leading Religion Writer in Canada... Does He Know What He's Talking About?", History News Network, 2004
  • There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more.
Richard A. Burridge, Jesus Now and Then, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004, p. 34
  • No reputable scholar today questions that a Jew named Jesus son of Joseph lived; most readily admit that we now know a considerable amount about his actions and his basic teachings.
James H. Charlesworth, "Preface", in James H. Charlesworth, Jesus and Archaeology, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006, pp. xxi–xxv
  • What about those writers like Acharya S (The Christ Conspiracy) and Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries), who say that Jesus never existed, and that Christianity was an invented religion, the Jewish equivalent of the Greek mystery religions? This is an old argument, even though it shows up every 10 years or so. This current craze that Christianity was a mystery religion like these other mystery religions-the people who are saying this are almost always people who know nothing about the mystery religions; they've read a few popular books, but they're not scholars of mystery religions. The reality is, we know very little about mystery religions-the whole point of mystery religions is that they're secret! So I think it's crazy to build on ignorance in order to make a claim like this. I think the evidence is just so overwhelming that Jesus existed, that it's silly to talk about him not existing. I don't know anyone who is a responsible historian, who is actually trained in the historical method, or anybody who is a biblical scholar who does this for a living, who gives any credence at all to any of this.
Bart Ehrman, interview with David V. Barrett, "The Gospel According to Bart", Fortean Times (221), 2007
  • I think that there are hardly any historians today, in fact I don't know of any historians today, who doubt the existence of Jesus... So I think that question can be put to rest.
N. T. Wright, "The Self-Revelation of God in Human History: A Dialogue on Jesus with N. T. Wright", in Antony Flew & Roy Abraham Vargese, There is a God, New York: HarperOne, 2007, p. 188
  • It is no surprise then that there is no New Testament scholar drawing pay from a post who doubts the existence of Jesus. I know not one. His birth, life, and death in first-century Palestine have never been subject to serious question and, in all likelihood, never will be among those who are experts in the field. The existence of Jesus is a given.
Nicholas Perrin, Lost in Transmission?: What We Can Know About the Words of Jesus, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007, p. 32
  • [Robert] Price thinks the evidence is so weak for the historical Jesus that we cannot know anything certain or meaningful about him. He is even willing to entertain the possibility that there never was a historical Jesus. Is the evidence of Jesus really that thin? Virtually no scholar trained in history will agree with Price's negative conclusions... In my view Price's work in the gospels is overpowered by a philosophical mindset that is at odds with historical research—of any kind... What we see in Price is what we have seen before: a flight from fundamentalism.
Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008, p. 25
  • I don't think there's any serious historian who doubts the existence of Jesus. There are a lot of people who want to write sensational books and make a lot of money who say Jesus didn't exist. But I don't know any serious scholar who doubts the existence of Jesus.
Bart Ehrman, interview with Reginald V. Finley Sr., "Who Changed The New Testament and Why", The Infidel Guy Show, 2008
  • Frankly, I know of no ancient historian or biblical historian who would have a twinge of doubt about the existence of a Jesus Christ - the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming.
Graeme Clarke, quoted by John Dickson in "Facts and friction of Easter", The Sydney Morning Herald, March 21, 2008
  • There's no serious question for historians that Jesus actually lived. There’s real issues about whether he is really the way the Bible described him. There’s real issues about particular incidents in his life. But no serious ancient historian doubts that Jesus was a real person, really living in Galilee in the first century.
Chris Forbes, interview with John Dickson, "Zeitgeist: Time to Discard the Christian Story?", Center for Public Christianity, 2009
  • Richard [Carrier] takes the extremist position that Jesus of Nazareth never even existed, that there was no such person in history. This is a position that is so extreme that to call it marginal would be an understatement; it doesn’t even appear on the map of contemporary New Testament scholarship.
William Lane Craig, "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?", debate with Richard Carrier, 2009
  • No serious historian of any religious or nonreligious stripe doubts that Jesus of Nazareth really lived in the first century and was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea and Samaria. Though this may be common knowledge among scholars, the public may well not be aware of this.
Craig A. Evans, "The Shout of Death", in Troy A. Miller, Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2009, p. 3
  • From time to time people try to suggest that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, but virtually all historians of whatever background now agree that he did, and most agree that he did and said a significant amount at least of what the four gospels say he did and said.
N. T. Wright, "The Resurrection Was as Shocking Then as It Is Now", The Guardian, 2009

2010+[edit]

  • Scholarship, like everything else, is subject to fashion, and it was the fashion, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for some to deny that Jesus existed. No serious scholar holds that view now, and it is hard to see how it ever took hold, for the evidence of Jesus's existence is abundant.
Paul Johnson, Jesus: A 21st Century Biography, New York: Viking, 2010, Introduction
  • The thesis that Jesus never existed has hovered around the fringes of research into the New Testament for at least a century but it has never been accepted as a mainstream theory. This is for good reason. It is simply a bad hypothesis based on arguments from silence, special pleading, and an awful lot of wishful thinking. It is ironic that certain atheists will buy into this idea and leave all their pretensions of critical thinking behind.
James Hannam, "Is Jesus Christ a Myth?" (Part One), Patheos, 2010, para. 1
  • Historians disagree over the extent to which claims about Jesus’ miraculous nature – and, in particular, his resurrection – are supported by the historical evidence. However, when we turn to the question of whether there was an historical Jesus, we find a clear consensus emerges. The vast majority believe that Jesus’ existence and crucifixion, at least, are firmly established (one rare exception being Robert M. Price).
Stephen Law, "Evidence, Miracles and the Existence of Jesus", Faith and Philosophy 2011, Volume 28, Issue 2.
  • [T]here is not a single mythicist who teaches New Testament or Early Christianity or even Classics at any accredited institution of higher learning in the Western world. And it is no wonder why. These views are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land in a bona fide department of biology.
Bart D. Ehrman, "Did Jesus Exist", Huffington Post, March 20, 2012
  • I should also mention that the biggest reason for the shyness of scholars with respect to the non-historicity thesis had/has to do with academic appointments (as in security thereof)rather than common sense. As a middle-of-the road Hegelian like Strauss discovered.
R. Joseph Hoffmann - Comment by rjosephhoffmann on Vridar's post "Christ Myth and Holocaust Denial" — 2010/06/17

Generally dismissive comments[edit]

  • When all the evidence brought against Jesus' historicity is surveyed it is not found to contain any elements of strength.
Shirley Jackson Case, "The Historicity of Jesus: An Estimate of the Negative Argument", The American Journal of Theology, 1911, 15 (1)
  • The defectiveness of [the Christ myth theory's] treatment of the traditional evidence is perhaps not so patent in the case of the gospels as it is in the case of the Pauline epistles. Yet fundamentally it is the same. There is the same easy dismissal of all external testimony, the same disdain for the saner conclusions of modern criticism, the same inclination to attach most value to extremes of criticism, the same neglect of all the personal and natural features of the narrative, the same disposition to put skepticism forward in the garb of valid demonstration, and the same ever present predisposition against recognizing any evidence for Jesus' actual existence... The New Testament data are perfectly clear in their testimony to the reality of Jesus' earthly career and they come from a time when the possibility that the early framers of tradition should have been deceived upon this point is out of the question.
Shirley Jackson Case, The Historicity Of Jesus, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1912, pp. 76-77 & 269
  • The historical reality both of Buddha and of Christ has sometimes been doubted or denied. It would be just as reasonable to question the historical existence of Alexander the Great and Charlemagne on account of the legends which have gathered round them... The attempt to explain history without the influence of great men may flatter the vanity of the vulgar, but it will find no favour with the philosophic historian.
James Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, 7 (3rd ed.), London: Macmillan, 1919, p. 311
  • It would be easy to show how much there enters of the conjectural, of superficial resemblances, of debatable interpretation into the systems of the Drews, the Robertsons, the W. B. Smiths, the Couchouds, or the Stahls... The historical reality of the personality of Jesus alone enables us to understand the birth and development of Christianity, which otherwise would remain an enigma, and in the proper sense of the word, a miracle.
Maurice Goguel, Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History?, London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1926, pp. 30 & 244
  • Anyone who talks about "reasonable faith" must say what he thinks about Jesus. And that would still be so even if, with one or two cranks, he believed that He never existed.
John W. C. Wand, The Old Faith and the New Age,‎ London: Skeffington & Son, 1933, p. 31
  • In the last analysis, the whole Christ-myth theorizing is a glaring example of obscurantism, if the sin of obscurantism consists in the acceptance of bare possibilities in place of actual probabilities, and of pure surmise in defiance of existing evidence. Those who have not entered far into the laborious inquiry may pretend that the historicity of Jesus is an open question. For me to adopt such a pretence would be sheer intellectual dishonesty. I know I must, as an honest man, reckon with Jesus as a factor in history... This dialectic process whereby the Christ-myth theory discredits itself rests on the simple fact that you cannot attempt to prove the theory without mishandling the evidence.
Herbert George Wood, Christianity and the Nature of History, London: Cambridge University Press, 1934, pp. xxxiii & 54
  • I.e. if we leave out of account the Christ-myth theories, which are hardly to be reckoned as within the range of serious criticism.
Alexander Roper Vidler, The Modernist Movement in the Roman Church, London: Cambridge University Press, 1934, p. 253
  • Of course, there can be no toleration whatever of the idea that Jesus never existed and is only a concoction from these pagan stories about a god who was slain and rose again.
Joseph Klausner, From Jesus to Paul, New York: Menorah, 1943, p. 107
  • That both in the case of the Christians, and in the case of those who worshipped Zagreus or Osiris or Attis, the Divine Being was believed to have died and returned to life, would be a depreciation of Christianity only if it could be shown that the Christian belief was derived from the pagan one. But that can be supposed only by cranks for whom historical evidence is nothing.
Edwyn R. Bevan, in Thomas Samuel Kepler, Contemporary Thinking about Paul: An Anthology, New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1950, p. 44
  • Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community.
Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus and the Word, New York: Scribner, 1958, p. introduction
  • Such Christ-myth theories are not now advanced by serious opponents of Christianity—they have long been exploded ..."
Gilbert Cope, Symbolism in the Bible and the Church, London: SCM, 1959, p. 14
  • By no means are we at the mercy of those who doubt or deny that Jesus ever lived.
Rudolf Bultmann, "The Study of the Synoptic Gospels", Form Criticism: Two Essays on New Testament Research, Rudolf Bultmann & Karl Kundsin; translated by Frederick C. Grant, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1962, p. 62
  • Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the evangelists, they record many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed—the competition of the apostles for high places in the Kingdom, their flight after Jesus' arrest, Peter's denial, the failure of Christ to work miracles in Galilee, the references of some auditors to his possible insanity, his early uncertainty as to his mission, his confessions of ignorance as to the future, his moments of bitterness, his despairing cry on the cross; no one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospel.
Will Durant, Christ and Caesar, The Story of Civilization, 3, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972, p. 557
  • In the early years of this century, various theses were propounded which all assert that Jesus never lived, and that the story of Jesus is a myth or legend. These claims have long since been exposed as historical nonsense. There can be no reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth lived in Palestine in the first three decades of our era, probably from 6-7 BC to 30 AD. That is a fact.
Walter Kasper, Jesus the Christ, Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1976, p. 65
  • Whatever else Jesus may or may not have done, he unquestionably* started the process that became Christianity…
UNQUESTIONABLY: The proposition has been questioned, but the alternative explanations proposed—the theories of the “Christ myth school,” etc.—have been thoroughly discredited.
Morton Smith, Jesus the Magician, New York: Harper & Row, 1978, pp. 5 & 166
  • The alternative thesis... that within thirty years there had evolved such a coherent and consistent complex of traditions about a non-existent figure such as we have in the sources of the Gospels is just too implausible. It involves too many complex and speculative hypotheses, in contrast to the much simpler explanation that there was a Jesus who said and did more or less what the first three Gospels attribute to him.
James D. G. Dunn, The Evidence for Jesus, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1985, p. 29
  • When Professor Wells advances such an explanation of the gospel stories [i.e. the Christ myth theory] he presents us with a piece of private mythology that I find incredible beyond anything in the gospels.
Morton Smith, in R. Joseph Hoffman, Jesus in History and Myth, Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1986, p. 48
  • Dr. Wells was there [I.e. a symposium at the University of Michigan] and he presened his radical thesis that maybe Jesus never existed. Virtually nobody holds this position today. It was reported that Dr. Morton Smith of Columbia University, even though he is a skeptic himself, responded that Dr. Wells's view was "absurd".
Gary Habermas, in Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?: The Resurrection Debate, San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989, p. 45
  • The pseudoscholarship of the early twentieth century calling in question the historical reality of Jesus was an ingenuous attempt to argue a preconceived position.
Gerard Stephen Sloyan, The Crucifixion of Jesus: History, Myth, Faith, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995, p. 9
  • We do not need to take seriously those writers who occasionally claim that Jesus never existed at all, for we have clear evidence to the contrary from a number of Jewish, Latin, and Islamic sources.
John Drane, "Introduction", in John Drane, The Great Sayings of Jesus: Proverbs, Parables and Prayers, New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 1999, p. 23
  • We can be certain that Jesus really existed (despite a few highly motivated skeptics who refuse to be convinced), that he was a Jewish teacher in Galilee, and that he was crucified by the Roman government around 30 CE.
Robert J. Miller, The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics, Santa Rosa: Polebridge, 1999, p. 38
  • Apart from the occasional fringe attempt to show that Jesus was born among the Gentile population of Palestine, or that Jesus never existed but was merely a mythic creation, there is no doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was born, lived, taught, and died as a Jew in the land of Israel in what we call the first century A.D.
Daniel J. Harrington, "Retrieving the Jewishness of Jesus: Recent Developments", in Bryan F. Le Beau, Leonard J. Greenspoon, and Dennis Hamm's The Historical Jesus through Catholic and Jewish Eyes, Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000, 67
  • [The non-Christian references to Jesus from the first two centuries] render highly implausible any farfetched theories that even Jesus' very existence was a Christian invention. The fact that Jesus existed, that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate (for whatever reason) and that he had a band of followers who continued to support his cause, seems to be the part of the bedrock of historical tradition. If nothing else, the non-Christian evidence can provide us with certainty on that score.
Christopher M. Tuckett, "Sources and Methods" in The Cambridge Companion to Jesus, London: Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 124
  • An examination of the claims for and against the historicity of Jesus thus reveals that the difficulties faced by those undertaking to prove that he is not historical, in the fields both of the history of religion and the history of doctrine, and not least in the interpretation of the earliest tradition are far more numerous and profound than those which face their opponents. Seen in their totality, they must be considered as having no possible solution. Added to this, all hypotheses which have so far been put forward to the effect that Jesus never lived are in the strangest opposition to each other, both in their method of working and their interpretation of the Gospel reports, and thus merely cancel each other out. Hence we must conclude that the supposition that Jesus did exist is exceedingly likely, whereas its converse is exceedingly unlikely. This does not mean that the latter will not be proposed again from time to time, just as the romantic view of the life of Jesus is also destined for immortality. It is even able to dress itself up with certain scholarly technique, and with a little skillful manipulation can have much influence on the mass of people. But as soon as it does more than engage in noisy polemics with 'theology' and hazards an attempt to produce real evidence, it immediately reveals itself to be an implausible hypothesis.
Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, translated by John Bowden et al., Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001, pp. 435–436
  • An extreme instance of pseudo-history of this kind is the “explanation” of the whole story of Jesus as a myth.
Emil Brunner, The Mediator: A Study of the Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith, Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 2002, p. 164
  • Some writers may toy with the fancy of a 'Christ-myth,' but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the 'Christ-myth' theories.
F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (6th ed.), Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003, p. 123
  • [A]n attempt to show that Jesus never existed has been made in recent years by G. A. Wells, a Professor of German who has ventured into New Testament study and presents a case that the origins of Christianity can be explained without assuming that Jesus really lived. Earlier presentations of similar views at the turn of the century failed to make any impression on scholarly opinion, and it is certain that this latest presentation of the case will not fare any better. For of course the evidence is not confined to Tacitus; there are the New Testament documents themselves, nearly all of which must be dated in the first century, and behind which there lies a period of transmission of the story of Jesus which can be traced backwards to a date not far from that when Jesus is supposed to have lived. To explain the rise of this tradition without the hypothesis of Jesus is impossible.
Ian Howard Marshall, I Believe in the Historical Jesus (rev. ed.), Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2004, pp. 15–16
  • While The Christ Myth alarmed many who were innocent of learning, it evoked only Olympian scorn from the historical establishment, who were confident that Jesus had existed... The Christ-myth theory, then, won little support from the historical specialists. In their judgement, it sought to demonstrate a perverse thesis, and it preceded by drawing the most far-fetched, even bizarre connection between mythologies of very diverse origin. The importance of the theory lay, not in its persuasiveness to the historians (since it had none), but in the fact that it invited theologians to renewed reflection on the questions of faith and history.
Brian A. Gerrish, The Old Protestantism and the New: Essays on the Reformation Heritage, London: T. & T. Clark, 2004, p. 231 & 233
  • Since the Enlightenment, the Gospel stories about the life of Jesus have been in doubt. Intellectuals then as now asked: 'What makes the stories of the New Testament any more historically probable than Aesop's fables or Grimm's fairy tales?' The critics can be answered satisfactorily...For all the rigor of the standard it sets, the criterion [of embarrassment] demonstrates that Jesus existed.
Alan F. Segal, "Believe Only the Embarrassing", Slate, 2005
  • In the academic mind, there can be no more doubt whatsoever that Jesus existed than did Augustus and Tiberius, the emperors of his lifetime. Even if we assume for a moment that the accounts of non-biblical authors who mention him - Flavius Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger and others - had not survived, the outstanding quality of the Gospels, Paul's letters and other New Testament writings is more than good enough for the historian.
Carsten Peter Thiede, Jesus, Man or Myth?, Oxford: Lion, 2005, p. 23
  • In fact, there is more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth certainly lived than for most famous figures of the ancient past. This evidence is of two kinds: internal and external, or, if you will, sacred and secular. In both cases, the total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus' existence. And yet this pathetic denial is still parroted by 'the village atheist,' bloggers on the internet, or such organizations as the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
Paul L. Maier, "Did Jesus Really Exist?", 4Truth.net, 2007
  • Some nineteenth-century rationaists maintained that he never existed, that the gospels portrayed an ideal Jew who never was. A clutch of German and British writers was capable of that historical nonsense, some of which has resurfaced. It would be easier to establish that there never was an emperor Nerva, a name invented to fill the gap of ignorance of the years between Domitian and Trajan.
Gerard Stephen Sloyan, Jesus: Word Made Flesh, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008, p. 160
  • A school of thought popular with cranks on the Internet holds that Jesus didn’t actually exist.
Tom Breen, The Messiah Formerly Known as Jesus: Dispatches from the Intersection of Christianity and Pop Culture, Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2008, p. 138
  • This is always the fatal flaw of the 'Jesus myth' thesis: the improbability of the total invention of a figure who had purportedly lived within the generation of the inventors, or the imposition of such an elaborate myth on some minor figure from Galilee. [Robert] Price is content with the explanation that it all began 'with a more or less vague savior myth.' Sad, really."
James D. G. Dunn, "Response to Robert M. Price", in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy, The Historical Jesus: Five Views, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009, p. 98
  • Jesus is in no danger of suffering Catherine [of Alexandria]'s fate as an unhistorical myth...
Dale C. Allison, The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009, p. 37
  • Mythicism isn't about treating historical sources in the same way across the board. It is entirely the purview of people with a vendetta against Christianity, although even in such circles there are plenty who do not find it persuasive. And it must be emphasized that it is taken no more seriously among mainstream historians than in Biblical studies.
James F. McGrath, "Mythicism vs. the Socratic Historians", Exploring Our Matrix, 2010
  • This view [that Jesus never existed] is demonstrably false. It is fuelled by a regrettable form of atheist prejudice, which holds all the main primary sources, and Christian people, in contempt. This is not merely worse than the American Jesus Seminar, it is no better than Christian fundamentalism. It simply has different prejudices. Most of its proponents are also extraordinarily incompetent.
Maurice Casey, Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian's Account of His Life and Teaching, New York: T&T Clark, 2010, p. 499
  • Some skeptics have maintained that the best account of the biblical and historical evidence is the theory that Jesus never existed; that is, that Jesus' existence is a myth (Well 1999). Such a view is controversial and not widely held even by anti-Christian thinkers.
Michael Martin, "Skeptical Perspectives on Jesus' Resurrection", in Delbert Burkett's The Blackwell Companion to Jesus, Oxford: Blackwell, 2011, p. 285

Denialist Comparisons[edit]

  • I feel that I ought almost to apologize to my readers for investigating at such length the hypothesis of a pre-Christian Jesus, son of a mythical Mary, and for exhibiting over so many pages its fantastic, baseless, and absurd character... We must [, according to Christ myth advocates,] perforce suppose that the Gospels were a covert tribute to the worth and value of Pagan mythology and religious dramas, to pagan art and statuary. If we adopt the mythico-symbolical method, they can have been nothing else. Its sponsors might surely condescend to explain the alchemy by which the ascertained rites and beliefs of early Christians were distilled from these antecedents. The effect and the cause are so entirely disparate, so devoid of any organic connection, that we would fain see the evolution worked out a little more clearly. At one end of it we have a hurly-burly of pagan myths, at the other an army of Christian apologists inveighing against everything pagan and martyred for doing so, all within a space of sixty or seventy years. I only hope the orthodox will be gratified to learn that their Scriptures are a thousandfold more wonderful and unique than they appeared to be when they were merely inspired by the Holy Spirit. For verbal inspiration is not, as regards its miraculous quality, in the same field with mythico-symbolism. Verily we have discovered a new literary genus, unexampled in the history of mankind, you rake together a thousand irrelevant thrums of mythology, picked up at random from every age, race, and clime; you get a "Christist" to throw them into a sack and shake them up; you open it, and out come the Gospels. In all the annals of the Bacon-Shakespeareans we have seen nothing like it.
Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare, The Historical Christ, or an Investigation of the Views of J. M. Robertson, A. Drews and W. B. Smith, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library, 2009/1914, pp. 42 & 95
  • A phone call from the BBC’s flagship Today programme: would I go on air on Good Friday morning to debate with the aurthors of a new book, The Jesus Mysteries? The book claims (or so they told me) that everything in the Gospels reflects, because it was in fact borrowed from, much older pagan myths; that Jesus never existed; that the early church knew it was propagating a new version of an old myth, and that the developed church covered this up in the interests of its own power and control. The producer was friendly, and took my point when I said that this was like asking a professional astronomer to debate with the authors of a book claiming the moon was made of green cheese.
N. T. Wright, "Jesus' Self Understanding", in Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, Gerald O’Collins, The Incarnation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 48
  • To describe Jesus' non-existence as "not widely supported" is an understatement. It would be akin to me saying, "It is possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported, scientific case that the 1969 lunar landing never happened." There are fringe conspiracy theorists who believe such things - but no expert does. Likewise with the Jesus question: his non-existence is not regarded even as a possibility in historical scholarship. Dismissing him from the ancient record would amount to a wholesale abandonment of the historical method.
John Dickson, Jesus: A Short Life, Oxford: Lion, 2008, 22-23.
  • The very logic that tells us there was no Jesus is the same logic that pleads that there was no Holocaust.
Nicholas Perrin, Lost in Transmission?: What We Can Know About the Words of Jesus, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007, p. 32
  • Along with the scholarly and popular works, there is a good deal of pseudoscholarship on Jesus that finds its way into print. During the last two centuries more than a hundred books and articles have denied the historical existence of Jesus. Today innumerable websites carry the same message... Most scholars regard the arguments for Jesus' non-existence as unworthy of any response—on a par with claims that the Jewish Holocaust never occurred or that the Apollo moon landing took place in a Hollywood studio.
Michael James McClymond, Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004, pp. 8 & 23–24
  • You know that you can try to minimize your biases, but you can't eliminate them. That's why you have to put certain checks and balances in place… Under this approach, we only consider facts that meet two criteria. First, there must be very strong historical evidence supporting them. And secondly, the evidence must be so strong that the vast majority of today's scholars on the subject—including skeptical ones—accept these as historical facts. You're never going to get everyone to agree. There are always people who deny the Holocaust or question whether Jesus ever existed, but they're on the fringe.
Micael R. Licona, in Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007, p. 112
  • If I understand what Earl Doherty is arguing, Neil, it is that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as an historical person, or, at least that historians, like myself, presume that he did and act on that fatally flawed presumption. I am not sure, as I said earlier, that one can persuade people that Jesus did exist as long as they are ready to explain the entire phenomenon of historical Jesus and earliest Christianity either as an evil trick or a holy parable. I had a friend in Ireland who did not believe that Americans had landed on the moon but that they had created the entire thing to bolster their cold-war image against the communists. I got nowhere with him. So I am not at all certain that I can prove that the historical Jesus existed against such an hypothesis and probably, to be honest, I am not even interested in trying.
John Dominic Crossan, "Historical Jesus: Materials and Methodology", XTalk, 2000
  • A hundred and fifty years ago a fairly well respected scholar named Bruno Bauer maintained that the historical person Jesus never existed. Anyone who says that today—in the academic world at least—gets grouped with the skinheads who say there was no Holocaust and the scientific holdouts who want to believe the world is flat.
Mark Allan Powell, Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998, p. 168
  • When they say that Christian beliefs about Jesus are derived from pagan mythology, I think you should laugh. Then look at them wide-eyed and with a big grin, and exclaim, 'Do you really believe that?' Act as though you've just met a flat earther or Roswell conspirator.
William Lane Craig, "Question 90: Jesus and Pagan Mythology", Reasonable Faith, 2009
  • Finley: There are some people in the chat room disagreeing, of course, but they’re saying that there really isn’t any hardcore evidence, though, that… I mean… but there isn’t any… any evidence, really, that Jesus did exist except what people were saying about him. But… Ehrman: I think… I disagree with that. Finley: Really? Ehrman: I mean, what hardcore evidence is there that Julius Caesar existed? Finley: Well, this is… this is the same kind of argument that apologists use, by the way, for the existence of Jesus, by the way. They like to say the same thing you said just then about, well, what kind of evidence do you have for Jul… Ehrman: Well, I mean, it’s… but it’s just a typical… it’s just… It’s a historical point; I mean, how do you establish the historical existence of an individual from the past? Finley: I guess… I guess it depends on the claims… Right, it depends on the claims that people have made during that particular time about a particular person and their influence on society... Ehrman: It’s not just the claims. There are… One has to look at historical evidence. And if you… If you say that historical evidence doesn’t count, then I think you get into huge trouble. Because then, how do… I mean… then why not just deny the Holocaust?
Bart Ehrman, interview with Reginald V. Finley Sr., "Who Changed The New Testament and Why", The Infidel Guy Show, 2008
  • The denial that Christ was crucified is like the denial of the Holocaust. For some it's simply too horrific to affirm. For others it's an elaborate conspiracy to coerce religious sympathy. But the deniers live in a historical dreamworld.
John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, Wheaton: Crossway, 2006, pp. 14-15
  • I just finished reading, The Historical Jesus: Five Views. The first view was given by Robert Price, a leading Jesus myth proponent… The title of Price’s chapter is 'Jesus at the Vanishing Point.' I am convinced that if Price's total skepticism were applied fairly and consistently to other figures in ancient history (Alexander the Great, Ptolemy, Cleopatra, Nero, etc.), they would all be reduced to 'the vanishing point.' Price's chapter is a perfect example of how someone can always, always find excuses to not believe something they don't want to believe, whether that be the existence of Jesus or the existence of the holocaust.
Dennis Ingolfsland, "Five views of the historical Jesus", The Recliner Commentaries, 2009
  • The Jesus mythers will continue to advance their thesis and complain of being kept outside of the arena of serious academic discussion. They carry their signs, 'Jesus Never Existed!' 'They won’t listen to me!' and label those inside the arena as 'Anti-Intellectuals,' 'Fundamentalists,' 'Misguided Liberals,' and 'Flat-Earthers.' Doherty & Associates are baffled that all but a few naïve onlookers pass them by quickly, wagging their heads and rolling their eyes. They never see that they have a fellow picketer less than a hundred yards away, a distinguished looking man from Iran. He too is frustrated and carries a sign that says 'The Holocaust Never Happened!'
Michael R. Licona, "Licona Replies to Doherty's Rebuttal", Answering Infidels, 2005
  • Of course, no "universal consensus" [regarding historical theses] should be sought, since there will always be those who make their abode on the fringe. There are a few today who assert that Jesus is a myth who never existed, although it appears that no widely respected scholar hold this position. There are also those who deny there ever was a Holocaust.
Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010, pp. 62-63
  • It is almost cruelty to begin picking on the methodological wowsers implied in the reasoning of the mythtics–-the Jesus-deniers--who conflate God denying and Jesus denying as though they were on the same level of discussion and susceptible of the same kinds of proof. Embarrassing–-really–-because these same folk who hold up the scientific method to religionists want to walk past the complex evidence of textual and linguistic studies as though it weren’t there. … In their own areas, it would be as though the supporters of flat earth theory and spontaneous generation were given equal time at the podium and a spotlight to scoff at astronomy and biology, but—the impoverished reasoning seems to run—this is Biblical studies—how serious do you have to be?
R. Joseph Hoffman, "Mythtic Pizza and Cold-cocked Scholars", The New Oxonian, 2012
  • In a society in which people still claim the Holocaust did not happen, and in which there are resounding claims that the American president is, in fact, a Muslim born on foreign soil, is it any surprise to learn that the greatest figure in the history of Western civilization, the man on whom the most powerful and influential social, political, economic, cultural and religious institution in the world -- the Christian church -- was built, the man worshipped, literally, by billions of people today -- is it any surprise to hear that Jesus never even existed?
Bart D. Ehrman, "Did Jesus Exist?", Huffington Post, March 30, 2012
  • I think I'm not alone in feeling that to show the ill-informed and illogical nature of the current wave of "mythicist" proponents is a bit like having to demonstrate that the earth isn't flat, or that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth, or that the moon-landings weren't done on a movie lot.
Larry Hurtado, "The 'Did Jesus Exist' Controversy and Its Precedents", Larry Hurtado's Blog, July 23, 2012
  • Perhaps the most puzzling claim [put forward by mythicists], that would be amusing were it not apparently asserted so seriously, is that sometime in the 1980s a massive conspiracy (by “New Evangelical” interests) engineered the appointment of scholars in departments of Religion, Classics, Ancient History, etc., and that it managed to skew scholarly opinion, even among Jewish scholars and people of no religious affiliation, to support the historical existence of a Jesus of Nazareth. Hmm. That’s right up there with the notion that the Twin Towers were destroyed by the CIA! (Is there something in the drinking water nowadays in some places?) Certainly, many of those who have engaged the current “mythicist” issue (e.g., Maurice Casey) would be surprised to learn that their views have been shaped ingeniously without their knowing it by this “New Evangelical” cabal eager to prop up traditional Christianity!
Larry Hurtado, "The 'Did Jesus Exist' Controversy–Encore", Larry Hurtado's Blog, July 23, 2012

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