Why I Think Jesus Didn't Exist: A Historian Explains the Evidence That Changed His Mind

Dr. Richard Carrier flew in from California to lecture the UNCG Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics on the historicity of Christ.

"There are a lot of parallels that you'll see on the internet and books, often by amateurs, claiming that all the attributes of Jesus come from other gods, like, for example his birth on December 25th, and various things like that. No, that is not necessarily the case. A lot of those attributes, like, for example, Jesus being born on December 25th, were added to him much later anyway, so they have nothing to do with the origin of Christianity."

Comment by Unseen on April 12, 2013 at 10:57am

If you don't have an hour for the video, this could be a 15 or 20 minute read. 

Comment by Dale Headley on April 12, 2013 at 7:18pm

FYI: I don't believe that the Jesus of the Bible ever existed.  That's not to say that there weren't likely a lot of Jesuses running around the middle east in those days.  Some of them might even have been trying to convince ignorant, bonze-age peasants that they were sent by God.  And there were no doubt many people whose fear of death led them to embrace whatever their favorite Jesuses preached, no matter how preposterous.

Comment by max stirner on April 13, 2013 at 1:13am

** The quest for the "historical Jesus" ended long ago in faith-based fog

Whether Jesus was a person or a mere persona (like Daniel or Judith) makes very little difference -- the contemporary history gets written well by Michel Onfray in English, US title: Atheist Manifesto (2011) [rpnt 2006) isbn: 161145008X

If you can read french -- Onfray writes widely and critically about academic philosophy, particularly against "official" idealism of a not-yet destroyed xian culture in the West. Some of his works, notably the Counter-history of Philosophy in multiple volumes appears also in Italian.

A very rare survivor of the "pagan" critique of xianity also deals with the Jesus/Christ fictional construct. During the reign of Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius (160-180 CE) perhaps at the request of the emperor himself there appeared an attack on nascent xianity.

Written by an almost unknown author, Celsus, On the True Doctrine (a discourse against the xians) exists today only because the theologian Origen saved large portions of it as part of a refutation 50 years later. Insightful, sometimes funny, the True Doctrine skewers xian pretense as founders of a new, unacceptable, cult with anti-Roman biases which were capital crimes -- atheism among them.

See Hoffman [trans] Celsus On the True Doctrine 1987. isbn: 0195041518

Also useful: Wilken. The Christians as the Romans Saw Them 1984. isbn: 0300098391

Dodds. Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety. 1991 [rpnt 1965] isbn: 0521385997

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 13, 2013 at 1:40am

I only recently gave serious consideration to the non-historicity of Jesus.  I watched another video that didn't have convincing evidence, but which at least posed a viable non-historicity theory.  This guy's evidence is not so much a solid refutation of historicity as it is a strong support for non-historicity.  I really couldn't form a solid conclusion on this without a lot of research into his claims - but I'm not sure if I'll bother with such research as whether or not an historical Jesus existed, I'm already convinced that an historical Jesus wouldn't have been anything more than a fringe prophet, at best.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on April 13, 2013 at 1:42am

@Unseen

With all due respect, I don't feel your article begins to rival the evidence/discourse provided in this video.  I do strongly recommend taking an hour to hear what this guy has to say.

Comment by Sagacious Hawk on April 13, 2013 at 5:47am

This is great. I watched it twice.

Comment by SteveInCO on April 13, 2013 at 2:00pm

Round 1417 of the debate between the "historicists" and the "mythicists"

@Unseen

I've skimmed through that link you provided (the video is downloading and I will get to it later).  There's nothing here (about the lack of truly eyewitness accounts in the bible, the lack of any mention of Jesus in Roman records, etc., etc.) that a historicist like Bart Ehrman (author of Misquoting Jesus and other related works) would not readily concede to be fact.  His line of argument does use the gospels but tries to get at the truth hidden under all the legendary bullshit that accreted onto it over the decades.  There are times you can analyze the lie and learn something about the truth underneath it.

In fact I have yet to watch a mythicist video that presents a fact not already conceded by the historicists (but again I haven't watched this video yet). 

I've also seen some mythicist talks that seem to assume they have to argue against Jesus having actually performed miracles and the like, this is not a position that a secular historicist like Ehrman would take.

It's situations like the latter (where they perhaps unintentionally attack a strawman) that make me wonder if a large part of the argument isn't semantics.

Surely to a believer, "the Historical Jesus" would mean a Jesus exactly like described in the bible.  OK I think most of the people here would agree that Jesus did not ever live.  But that's not what the historicists are talking about; they are talking about some perfectly ordinary hominid (bad breath and all) out of the Galilee area, who probably had some sort of "religious experience" at the age of approximately 30, started preaching that the end was nigh, attracted a small following, went to Jerusalem, quite likely did cause a ruckus at the temple, and was crucified for his trouble.  This guy would probably be unrecognizable to a christian today, but it does not mean a legend could not have been built up around him by his rather disappointed followers.

Comment by Jim Smith 12 hours ago

In the case of the historical Jesus, there is not one contemporary record of his existence.  The Romans, who otherwise kept very good records never mentioned a figure who was supposed to be socially, politically, and spiritually so significant as well as publicly performing many miracles; then was executed after a very public trial.  

Not until the Gospel of Mark, written from 40 to over 100 years after the supposed crucifixion, (depending upon which biblical scholar you choose to believe) is there any mention of Jesus.  If we look at the fables of Horus, Attis, and Mithra, we see amazing similarities.  Born in low circumstances on December 25, 12 followers, executed at an early age, son of a god, the list goes on. It would appear that the early church, in need of a powerful central figure, "borrowed" from earlier myths to create a rallying point for their religion.

A Few Noticeable Events in the Life of Jesus

Herod’s slaughter of all the baby boys in Bethlehem.

Jesus’ triumphant entry in Jerusalem, where the entire town welcomes him as their king.

Jesus casting out the greedy moneychangers. (in an area about the size of 34 football fields)

Two earthquakes hit Jerusalem.

Supernatural darkness covers “all the land” for hours.

The Sacred Temple curtain tears from top to bottom.

All the dead holy men in the cemetery come out of their graves and wander Jerusalem, “appearing to many.”

And yet, contemporary historians in the time of Jesus didn’t write about any of this.

Comment by SteveInCO 2 hours ago

Again, and as I said before, NONE of that would be disputed by a historicist like Bart Ehrman.  Ehrman in fact goes out of his way to make the statements you just made. He doesn't believe any of that miraculous stuff happened.  No slaughter of baby boys, no triumphal entrance, no earthquakes, no darkness, etc. etc. (Did you actually read what I wrote?)

No secular historicist argues that the stuff you just mentioned actually happened, so you are just wasting your time reciting it.

Neither you nor Carrier address the historicists' actual arguments; you instead argue against people who have a religious belief in a supernatural Jesus.

Comment by Belle Rose 2 hours ago
I found this video very interesting, but I'm not sure I agree 100% with it. I will have to take a closer look at his supposed "from scratch" methodology, and he references it briefly but them didn't really talk about it. That (to me) is the most important part!!! Hellooo!!! So everything else he said after that (to me) had very little substance because I had no framework to go off of other than his words. His words and letters behind his name to me means jack shit. I suppose I have to go read his book.... Unless someone who has already read it can explain....

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