Jesus Mythicism and Invincible Ignorance

by Albert McIlhenny

As I continue playing Jane Goodall among the Jesus mythicists in preparation for future installments of my e-book series, I am often astonished at the complete insularity of their “scholarship.” Sometimes you just have to wonder if they have ever read a book on the history of Christianity outside their own little group.

An example is someone named Samuel Butler. One of many Jesus mythicists who is long on accusations and short on scholarship, Butler released a crank book titled Beyond All Relgion wherein he decided that Christianity was invented in the fourth century. Needless to say, this would be a bit of a shock to most New Testament scholars – including atheist/agnostic ones – given that there are substantial examples of New Testament texts from the second and third centuries. However, Butler, who decided to write a sensationalistic book on the origins of the New Testament without ever bothering to read any scholarship on the subject, decided this was not the case. His “evidence” is often a comedy of errors as he demonstrates his complete ignorance on the subject.

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For example, he claims the church admits the Gospels were not written in the first century. His evidence is a statement in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

when discussing the origin of those writings, “the most distinguished body of academic opinion ever assembled” (Catholic Encyclopedias, Preface) admits that the Gospels “do not go back to the first century of the Christian era” (Catholic Encyclopedia, Farley ed., vol. vi, p. 137, pp. 655-6).

Here, Butler only demonstrates his complete incompetence. It is quite obvious he copied this line from another anti-Christian crank. I first came across it in a book by the hack author Joseph Wheless who, in his Forgery in Christianity, made the same bogus claim. It seems (for reasons that will become clear later) that Butler copied it from Tony Bushby – an author so off the wall he makes David Icke seem almost rational by comparison.

In reality, the “quote” was taken out of context from a section in the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Gospels dealing that dealt with the titles (e.g., the title Gospel of Mark) of the books. In the entry, it was stated that…

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