I’ve always been skeptical of mythicists. You know, those atheist extremists who don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth even existed. What a bunch of loons, right? How could it be possible that the most influential person in all of western civilization, and maybe even the entire planet, did not exist?
But I’ve started to wonder…
I mean, I still think that there was a Jesus. I’m just not so sure that he was anything like the Jesus presented in the Gospels. You know, the perfect Jesus who loves everyone, including his enemies. The peasant carpenter whose sermons and parables rival the brilliance of the world’s greatest philosophers and poets. Isn’t it really weird that a country boy would have such a brilliant command of language, oratory skills, in depth knowledge of religion, a skilled use of philosophy, and impeccable debate skills?
Is it possible that a clever book author made up all these stories? Is the Jesus of the Gospels a fictional character?
Let’s take a look at the Jesus about whom Paul preached. Let’s look at some of Jesus’ sermons, parables, and miracles recorded by the Apostle Paul, the author of the earliest books found in the canon of the Christian New Testament. What do we find? How many of Jesus’ sermons, parables, and miracles do we find?
What descriptions does Paul give us of the historical Jesus. Well, let’s see. Paul tells us that Jesus was born of a woman and was a descendant of King David. He tells us the words that Jesus allegedly used at the Last Supper. But…that’s about it.
But what about the Early Creed found in First Corinthians 15? Many scholars date this creed to within three years of Jesus’ death. Ok, well, what does this creed tell us about Jesus? Answer: He was crucified, he was buried, he rose on the third day, and he appeared to numerous people. That’s it.
So it seems that prior to the writing of the first gospel in circa 70 CE, we have very, very little historical information about the Jesus whom Paul and his followers worshiped.
Is it possible that Paul’s Jesus and the Jesus of the Gospels are two very different men…or characters? Is it possible that the rhetorically eloquent Jesus of the Gospels is a literary invention; an invention of the author of the Gospel of Mark; expanded upon by the authors of Matthew, Luke, and John???
End of post.