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by James Bishop
Introduction to this issue:
As Dan Brown in his book ‘The Da Vinci Code’ writes: “Nothing in Christianity is original.”
It is in recent times that a great number of people are claiming that Jesus is simply a rehash of older pagan secretive religions, and of the religions of dying and rising gods. We see this masqueraded as truth in films such as Zeitgeist, The Da Vinci Code and Irreligious which, to the layperson, seem to be factual and convincing. But how factually based are these claims? Surely anyone can misconstrue evidence to suit their presuppositional biases, especially if they don’t want to believe something. The first step for anyone really seeking to understand these allegations would be to consult the scholars in the relevant and necessary fields of expertise. What do they have to say? Is such an issue even on the table of debate nowadays? If so, or if not, then why?
In a nutshell this study will be focused on analysing these comparisons, the educated opinions of the scholars, and trying to see if anything of these pagan parallels are seen in the Jesus of the New Testament.
Who are the mythicists?
Bart Ehrman, the world’s leading sceptical New Testament scholar, asks:
“What is driving the mythicist’s agenda? Why do they work so hard at showing that Jesus never really lived? I do not have a definitive answer to that question, but I do have a hunch. It is no accident that virtually all mythicists (in fact, all of them, to my knowledge), are either atheists or agnostics. The ones I know anything about are quite virulently, even militantly atheist.”
Ehrman is certainly correct in his hunch. One of the leading mythicists of today is that of Richard Carrier, and Carrier happens to be an avid atheist that writes for the Secular Web. Now Carrier with two or three other proponents are the only scholars propounding this view of mythicism, the rest are not even scholars in the relevant fields of expertise – such is seen of Bill Maher (Irreligious), Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), James Coyman (Zeitgeist), and Brian Flemming (The God Who Wasn’t There).
Probably the two leading mythicists, that although ignored by historical, New Testament, Early Christianity, or Classical scholars are, as indicated above Carrier, and another man named Robert Price – these two men are the only ones that have, in recent times, really warranted any attention from the mainstream community of scholars, or at least one or two scholars in the mainstream community. Other than that the mythicist is ignored by the majority scholars in the relevant fields.
The allegation in a Nutshell:
Proponents of this view, known as mythicists, say that Jesus was nothing more than a copy of popular dying and rising fertility gods in various places from around the world, some of these gods would include Tammuz in Mesopotamia, Adonis in Syria, Attis in Asia Minor, and Horus in Egypt.
It has only been in recent times that the mythicist allegations have been re-established due to the rise of the Internet and the mass distribution of information from unaccountable sources. The only thing an online user needs to have to their name is the oxygen that they breathe – anyone can post anything online and masquerade it as truth. In this article we are going to examine these parallels, and see if they stand up to scrutiny. So, let us uncover the many reasons ‘why scholars know that Jesus is not a copy of pagan religions’…
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