Was Jesus Christ a myth? (6)

“To the question, then, On what grounds do you deny that such a person as Jesus Christ existed as a man? the proper answer is, Because his existence as a man has, from the earliest day on which it can be shown to have been asserted, been as earnestly and strenuously denied, and that, not by enemies of the Christian name, or unbelievers of the Christian faith, but by the most intelligent, most learned, most sincere of the Christian name, whoever left the world proofs of their intelligence and learning in their writings, and of their sincerity in their sufferings; And because the existence of no individual of the human race, that was real and positive, was ever, by a like conflict of jarring evidence, rendered equivocal and uncertain.” Rev. Robert Taylor (1829)

The majority of the articles on this website explain just how deeply Christianity is indebted to Paganism and Mythology, and as we will see, there is no way to remove the features Christianity shares with these traditions without cutting out the heart of the Jesus movement. However, there is even stronger evidence for the mythological Jesus, which we want to discuss at length before we get into the specifics of comparative mythology; details and quotes from the earliest stages of Christianity which are no less than mind-boggling, and lucidly cut through the assumption of Christian history as we know it.

A brief introduction to the early literature of the Church fathers, shows clearly that early Christianity was full of disagreement and controversy. Letters between Christians say very little about their own religious beliefs, but focus on condemning and warning against all of the heresies, or those other communities who also worshiped Jesus, but whose beliefs were different from the author’s. The most controversial issue for Christians of the first three centuries was or not Jesus was a physical human being. Was he a real man, or just a spirit? Did he bodily resurrect, or resurrect in appearance only? Did he, in fact, even exist as a historical person? There were many who didn’t believe so.

“I have learned that certain ministers of Satan have wished to disturb you, some of them asserting that Jesus was born only in appearance, and was crucified in appearance, and died in appearance.” Iraneaus, Against Valentinius

Irenaeus wrote his Adversus Haereses around 180ad, but Ignatius of Antioch, writing to the Smyrnaeans between 105ad and 115ad, is also familiar with those who refused the historical Jesus Christ.

“For He suffered all these things for our sakes [that we might be saved]; and He suffered truly, as also He raised Himself truly; not as certain unbelievers say, that He suffered in semblance, being themselves mere semblance.” Ignatius, Letter to Smyrnaens

This is only around 30 years from the writing of the four biblical gospels, which, tradition ascribes to the apostolic tradition of Jesus’ original followers. Think of the implications! How had the message of Jesus Christ, spreading by word of mouth until that time, been so vilely corrupted as to lead followers to question that Jesus Christ was a real, physical man? Imagine it: disciples of Jesus had seen him die on the cross, and later felt his resurrected physical body, and even watched him eat and drank after the resurrection. They then hit the road, spreading the good news, telling everyone they came in contact with about the miraculous powers of Jesus Christ. Would they have neglected to mention that Jesus was real, and that he rose bodily from the dead? Out of the question! It would have been the singular most important message to convey, in every detail. Those who didn’t believe that a man could rise from the dead in the same physical body as he had died in, wouldn’t believe the story, and would refrain from converting. But what we have are many, diverse communities, which believe in Jesus, but deny his physicality! And these are not a few, isolated incidences of the message going astray; Ignatius had to warn his followers about many, very distinct heresies which were believed in his day by other communities. It seems that more people had the “wrong” idea about Jesus, than those who got it right.

“If any one preaches the one God of the law and the prophets, but denies Christ to be the Son of God, he is a liar, even as also is his father the devil, and is a Jew falsely so called, being possessed of mere carnal circumcision. If anyone confesses Christ Jesus the Lord, but denies the God of the law and of the prophets, saying that the Father of Christ is not the Maker of heaven and earth, he has not continued in the truth any more than his father the devil, and is a disciple of Simon Magus, not of the Holy Spirit. If anyone says there is one God, and also confesses Christ Jesus, but thinks the Lord to be a mere man, and not the only-begotten God, and Wisdom, and the Word of God, and deems Him to consist merely of a soul and body, such an one is a serpent, that preaches deceit and error for the destruction of men. And such a man is poor in understanding, even as by name he is an Ebionite. If anyone confesses the truths mentioned, but calls lawful wedlock, and the procreation of children, destruction and pollution, or deems certain kinds of food abominable, such a one has the apostate dragon dwelling within him. If anyone confesses the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and praises the creation, but calls the incarnation merely an appearance, and is ashamed of the passion, such a one has denied the faith, not less than the Jews who killed Christ. If anyone confesses these things, and that God the Word did dwell in a human body, being within it as the Word, even as the soul also is in the body, because it was God that inhabited it, and not a human soul, but affirms that unlawful unions are a good thing, and places the highest happiness in pleasure, as does the man who is falsely called a Nicolai tan, this person can neither be a lover of God, nor a lover of Christ, but is a corrupter of his own flesh, and therefore void of the Holy Spirit, and a stranger to Christ. All such persons are but monuments and sepulchers of the dead, upon which are written only the names of dead men. Flee, therefore, the wicked devices and snares of the spirit which now worketh in the children of this world, lest at any time being overcome, ye grow weak in your love.” Ignatius, to the Philadelphians

The Heresies

This cannot be the result of one or two receivers of wisdom that accidentally misunderstood the true message of Jesus; it is as if, every time the story of Jesus Christ was told, everyone heard an entirely different message! And many of these communities believed the one thing that apostolic tradition should have rendered impossible; that Jesus wasn’t a historical man. Bob Lunzer of spiritualcornerstones.com provides this summary of heresies:

Nestorianism taught that Jesus the man was a different being from the spirit who was the Son of God. This heresy denies that God could become human. Mary is not acknowledged or honored as the mother of God.

Monothelitism denies Jesus’ full humanity, saying that he had no human will, only a divine will.

Monophysitism denies Jesus’ human nature, saying that he had only one nature, the divine nature.

Eutychianism teaches that Christ’s human nature was absorbed by His divine nature.

Docetism says that Christ didn’t have a human body. Therefore He only appeared to die on the cross. Also, as in Gnosticism, the incarnation is denied.

Arianism teaches that Jesus was a created being. He was not one substance with the Father or Holy Spirit. This heresy denies that Christ was divine in the same way as the Father.

Apollinarianism teaches that Christ was not fully human, that he had no human spirit.

Adoptionism is a teaching that Christ was not divine until his baptism. At that point, as the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, He was adopted by God. This heresy is similar to Ebionism.

Psilanthropism teaches that Jesus was only a man. Jesus was not God in any sense. This heresy denies Jesus’ divinity.

Some of these were firmly established and growing communities in Ignatius’ time, powerful threats to his own church and beliefs. And Ignatius isn’t the first to realize the threat of other Christian communities, with “false ideas” about Jesus. As Wikipedia.com notes,

“Though Christ himself is noted to have spoken out against false prophets and false christs within the Gospels themselves Mark 13:22 (some will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples), Matthew 7:5-20, Matthew 24:4, Matthew 24:11 Matthew 24:24. For false christs and false prophets will arise. On many occasions in Paul’s epistles, he defends his own apostleship, and urges Christians in various places to beware of false teachers, or of anything contrary to what was handed to them by him. The epistles of John and Jude also warn of false teachers and prophets, as does the writer of the Book of Revelation and 1 Jn. 4:1, as did the Apostle Peter warn in 2 Pt. 2:1-3.” wikipedia.com

These weren’t schools of idiots, founded by Satan, who led the faithful astray with evil glances. These were men of faith, who believed earnestly in their own spiritual message. It is improbable that these astoundingly diverse communities could have ever come into existence, if the idea of apostolic tradition is true. If Jesus Christ was a real person and there were real witnesses to his death and resurrection, while his stories and words and miracles may have been altered through transmission, the one idea that most certainly would not have changed, is his physical, historical, and bodily presence, both before and after the resurrection. The diversity of early Christian creeds shows that, whatever message was being conveyed, it didn’t have enough details or evidence to prevent these heresies from forming.

And we can see from Christian writings themselves, that in fact, Christians knew next to nothing about their savior. They never refer to details about his life or works that are not recorded in the gospels, and before the gospels were readily available, they would quote from Old Testament prophecies and apply them to the figure of Jesus. The further back in history we go, the less they have to say about the historical Jesus. Early Christians provided a kind of logical argument to support the possibility of their ideas, but never provide proof, either from eye-witnesses, oral tradition or other sources, to convince their critics of their faith. Instead of refuting the position of their adversaries, through fact or logic, they resort to name calling and character attacks.

“For everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is the antichrist; and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the cross, is a devil, and whosoever perverteth the oracles of the Lord (to serve) his own lusts, and saith there is neither resurrection nor a judgment, this man is a first born of Satan.” St. Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians

Apostolic Tradition

Actually, the idea of apostolic tradition was invented by later Christian communities, so that they could justify their beliefs in the face of heresies. If one community claimed that Jesus has appeared to them 321 days after his death and given them a final revelation, another community would write that Jesus had appeared 524 days after his death and passed on the definitive “last words”.

Irenaeus, writing around 150 years after the alleged death of Jesus, was the first to argue that his “proto-orthodox” position was the same faith that Jesus gave to the apostles, and that the identity of the apostles, their successors, and the teachings of the same were all well-known public knowledge. (wikipedia.com) Paul makes it clear that he refuses the idea of apostolic tradition, by admonishing his followers for pulling rank based on their teacher. Amazingly, however, those Christians who so adamantly proclaimed an apostolic heritage were the least worthy to receive it. Most of the so-called Heresies were closer aligned with Paul’s theology than the early Church fathers; like most of the Christian communities that were a threat to “orthodoxy”, Paul did not believe in the Resurrection of the Flesh!

“It is the same too with the resurrection of the dead: what is sown in perishable, but what is raised is imperishable; what is sown is contemptible but what is raised is glorious; what is sown is weak, but what is raised is powerful; what is sown is a natural body, and what is raised is a spiritual body.” 1 Corinthians 15:43

“What I am saying, brothers, is that mere human nature cannot inherit the kingdom of God: what is perishable cannot inherit what is imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 15:50

Christians who affirmed the Resurrection of the Flesh knew that they were diverging from Paul’s original message, and complained that this difference of doctrine was often pointed out to them. Instead of responding to the criticism, and recognizing that the heretics were closer aligned to Paul’s theology, they pushed on undeterred.

“Among the other [truths] proclaimed by the apostle, there is also this one, “That flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” This is [the passage] which is adduced by all the heretics in support of their folly, with an attempt to annoy us, and to point out that the handiwork of God is not saved.” Irenaeus, Against the Heresies

Dismissing Paul and his higher mysteries, these Christians wanted their bodies preserved until some future period when they could reclaim them. The world at that time was steeped in some form of Neo-Platonism, which held the body was corrupt: the dying corpse that confined the eternal soul. Because of this, the idea of the Resurrection of the Flesh was met with contempt from Pagans, Romans, and also the majority of Christians. An eternal, physical body was seen as a disgusting and irrational idea. Justin Martyr succeeds in representing the opinion of the opposition, without answering any of the questions raised by them.

“They who maintain the wrong opinion say that there is no resurrection of the flesh; giving as their reason that it is impossible that what is corrupted and dissolved should be restored to the same as it had been. And besides the impossibility, they say that the salvation of the flesh is disadvantageous; and they abuse the flesh, adducing its infirmities, and declare that it is the cause of our sins, so that if the flesh, say they, rise again, our infirmities also rise with it. By these and such like arguments, they attempt to distract men from the faith. And there are some who maintain that even Jesus Himself appeared only as spiritual, and not in flesh, but presented merely the appearance of flesh: these persons seek to rob the flesh of the promise.” Justin Martyr, 2nd Apology

Significantly, the Christians who believed in the physical resurrection of the dead did not point to their own savior as proof, nor did they mention the miraculous raising of Lazarus found in the gospels. They neglected to offer the woman Peter raised to life in Jaffa, or the boy that Paul raised to life at Troas after he’d fallen out of a three story window, both of which were later recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. When asked to provide even one example of someone who has physically risen from the dead, they don’t.

“Then, as to your denying that the dead are raised–for you say, “Show me even one who has been raised from the dead, that seeing I may believe,”–first, what great thing is it if you believe when you have seen the thing done? Then, again, you believe that Hercules, who burned himself, lives; and that Aesculapius, who was struck with lightning, was raised; and do you disbelieve the things that are told you by God? But, suppose I should show you a dead man raised and alive, even this you would disbelieve.” Theophilus, To Autolycus

The greatest proof of the mythical Christ is the sheer size and range of heresies surrounding him, which had begun even before the gospels were written, and continued for several centuries. The entire collected literature of the early Church is a reaction to these heresies; however, rather than instructing and correcting them, through the proofs and special knowledges that should have been inherent in apostolic tradition, Christians could offer no evidence whatsoever for the historical Jesus, even decades after his death! Even apparent historical details, such as the reign of Pontius Pilate during the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, were articles to be believed in through faith.

“I have perceived that you are firmly settled in unwavering faith, being nailed, as it were, to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ in flesh and spirit, and firmly planted in love in the blood of Christ, being fully convinced as touching our Lord that He is truly of the race of David after the flesh, and Son of God after the Divine will and power, truly born of a virgin, baptized by John, that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the Tetrarch truly nailed for us in the flesh…And He truly suffered, as also that he truly raised himself up.” Ignatius, Epistle to Smyrnaeans

Rather than the majority, Christians who believed in the physical Christ were a select few, and ridiculed on all sides for their beliefs. A few years after the apparent death of their founder, Christians who believed in the historical Jesus already had to resort to faith in order to support their beliefs. Under these circumstances, the idea of a physical founder, who did specific things and gave specific instructions to a group of personal disciples, is absolutely ludicrous.

The Created Name

What is immanently more probable, is that there was no historical founder of Christianity; Jesus Christ was an ideological construction based on Jewish prophetic literature, which expected a Messiah to establish a divine kingdom, and the Greek mystery gods, which offered personal salvation and eternal life through a personal sacrifice. Sounds too incredible to be true? One final piece of evidence. Most people are familiar with the number 666, as the number of Satan, or the beast. What is less known is its opposite, the number 888, which was viewed as a divine number – a number of perfection and completion. The myth of Jesus Christ began when certain parties wrote a Jewish version of the Greek mystery cults. (That Christianity was a mystery religion, with various levels of initiation, will be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt further on in this investigation.)
Using a number substitution code, a common practice among the Greek mysteries and Jewish mystics, they created a name for this savior with special mathematical significance.

Jesus (Iησους) = I.E.S.O.U.S = 10+8+200+70+400+200 = 888

The principles behind this equation were well known in the first few centuries AD, and Iraneaus, although he doesn’t seem to believe it himself, can clearly do the math involved.

“This is the name of Jesus; for this name, if you reckon up the numerical value of the letters, amounts to eight hundred and eighty eight. Thus, then, you have a clear statement of their opinion as to the origin of the supercelestial Jesus. Wherefore, also, the alphabet of the Greeks contains eight Monads, eight Decads, and eight Hecatads, which present the number eight hundred and eighty-eight, that is, Jesus, who is formed of all the numbers; and on this account He is called Alpha and Omega, indicating his origin from all.” Iraneaus , Against the Heresies

This figure was not only a sacred number, it was also a pictograph of the nature of God. 8 turned on its side becomes the symbol of eternity. Three 8’s show the three identical persons of the eternal trinity. The numbers 888 can also be reversed, flipped, and substituted with each other without causing any change in their nature, reflecting the unchanging constancy of God. The concept of the Logos, represented by the divine number 888, was combined with the image of the awaited messiah and became the name Jesus Christ. It was an attempt to bridge Greek salvation philosophy and Jewish religious history, and did not refer to a real or actual person.