Here is my personal view on the Foundations of Christianity, comments are welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have researched the early history of Christianity and the Gospels, and present my results here in a harmony of related pages :
Surprisingly, the contemporary records of the Roman and Greek world say little of Jesus or the early Christians or the Gospel events. Where there should be evidence for Jesus or the Gospel events - there is not. What evidence is usually cited for Jesus is actually all late and/or suspect. Many authors argue Jesus was a myth.
Oddly, while missing from history, the stories of Jesus do seem to have clear similarities with other mythologiies of the milieu - the righteous Jew, the suffering servant, the expected Messiah, the anointed one, and the pagan dying son-of-God figures such as Attis, Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, Dionysius. One notable figure is a certain Iasius (meaning Healer) of the Greek Mysteries, who shares a similar story, and almost the same name, as Jesus. Various authors see the origins of Christianity in pagan mythology.
Christianity started with Paul, a Gnostic, who spoke of a Christ Jesus who was purely spiritual yet personally knowable, using terms and methods of mystics and the mysteries, and like Paul, many early Christians were Gnostics who wrote in Esoteric terms. All of the early references to 'cross', 'crucified' etc. are spiritual principles - only over some time did this Spiritual Christ Develop into the physical Jesus of Nazareth.
A detailed Chronology of the Gospels and the foundations of Christianity shows how the Life of Jesus Christ grew over the first century - the modern four Gospels do not appear until mid-late 2nd century, a century-and-a-half after the alleged events.
An updated visual Table which summarises the results of electronic search for key words and phrases through all the NT epistles, and the accepted Fathers of the Church (180 files or 20Mbytes). I list these search results in chronological order, to show quickly who wrote about what, and when - this table shows clearly that the Life of Jesus and the Gospels only becomes known in the mid-late 2nd cenuries.
A certain Clement of Rome supposedly quotes from the Gospels at the turn of the century - while he makes hundreds of citations to the OT by name, as 'scripture' and the epistles of Paul which are wise 'writings' - the alleged Gospel quotes boil down to only two phrases similar to Jesus' words in the NT. They introduced with the formula 'remember the words of Jesus ' - i.e. a Saying of Jesus from the Oral tradition, with no mention of Gospels, or Gospel authors or writings - this is early Oral tradition phase, not quotes at all.
A comparison Mani vs Jesus showing the external record.
Some visionary accounts (roughly contemporary with Paul) of the various planes and worlds which helps to explain the multi-planer view of the universe: Cicero's Dream of Scipio; Plutarch's Vision of Aridaeus; the Vision of Isaiah; the Dream of 1 Enoch; the Apocalypse of 2 Enoch; The Apocalypse of Zephaniah; 4 Ezra; 2 Baruch; The Apocalypse of Adam.
It was Ignatius who first spoke of a physical Jesus Christ, who was truly born of Mary and suffered under Pontius Pilate - in fact he knows nothing of the Gospels or the Life of Jesus - he writes in esoteric terms of being 'initiated' into the 'mysteries of the Gospel'.
A compilation of early doubts about the Gospels and/or Jesus.
A compilation of excerpts about Marcion and his views.
A compilation of uses of 'kata sarka' or 'after the flesh', helping to show its meaning.
A list of early manuscripts of the NT.
Some key sources and sites :
Earl Doherty's The Jesus Puzzle – a masterful argument for the Mythical Jesus – recommended.
Richard Carrier's review of Earl Doherty's book.
Robert Price's The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man.
Earl Doherty's review of Robert Price's book.
Peter Kirby's Early Christian Writings – an excellent resource for writings of the era
The Birth of the Christian Religion By Alfred Firmin Loisy.
The Origins of the New Testament By Alfred Firmin Loisy.
Historian Richard Carrier's essays dealing with these issues
Essays by Steven Carr.
The Jesus Mysteries discussion group – serious discussion of the question.
The lively Internet Infidels “Biblical Criticism and Archeology” discussion group.
For further reading, here are some other web sites that may be of interest:
The writings of the Fathers of the Church – online at New Advent.
The Perseus site for online texts.
Full text of Bauer's "Orthodoxy and Heresy".
Stephen Carlson's Synoptic Problem page.
Glenn Davis' site on the NT canon.
UMW's site on the Bible canon.
Bernard Muller's historical re-construction of Jesus.
Joseph P. Macchio's article on the Archetypal Christ of Paul.
Hermann Detering's Radikalkritik
Greg Kane's page on the Pagan origins of the Christ Myth.
Roger Pearse's page on various related subjects.
Richard Packham's page on various related subjects.
Rich Elliot's page on Textual Criticism.
Scott Bidstrup's essay on bible origins
A page on NT manuscripts
Louis W. Cable's sceptical page.
Gary Courtney's page about Jesus being Julius Caesar.
Acharya S's page about the Mythic origins of Jesus.
Hayyim ben Yehoshua's page about the mythical Jesus.
Alvin Boyd Kuhn's Who is This King of Glory?.
Marshall J. Gauvin's article on the myth of Jesus.
The Mythic Jesus viewpoint is not a new one, having been argued for about 2 centuries :
C.F. Dupuis, 1791, Abrege De L'Origine Des Cultes
Robert Taylor, 1829, Diegesis
Bruno Bauer, 1841, Criticism of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
Mitchell Logan, 1842, Christian Mythology Unveiled
David Friedrich Strauss, 1860, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined
Kersey Graves, 1875, The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviours
T.W. Doane, 1882, Bible Myths and their Parallels in Other Religions
Gerald Massey, 1886, Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ
Thomas Whittaker, 1904, The Origins of Christianity
William Benjamin Smith, 1906, Der vorchristliche Jesus
Albert Kalthoff, 1907, The Rise of Christianity
M.M. Mangasarian, 1909, The Truth About Jesus ? Is He a Myth?
Arthur Drews, 1910, The Christ Myth
John M. Robertson, 1917, The Jesus Problem
Georg Brandes, 1926, Jesus – A Myth
Joseph Wheless, 1930, Forgery in Christianity
L.Gordon Rylands, 1935, Did Jesus Ever Live?
Edouard Dujardin, 1938, Ancient History of the God Jesus
P.L. Couchoud, 1939, The Creation of Christ
Alvin Boyd Kuhn, 1944, Who is this King of Glory?
Karl Kautsky, 1953, The Foundations of Christianity
Herbert Cutner, 1950, Jesus: God, Man, or Myth?
Guy Fau, 1967, Le Fable de Jesus Christ
Current proponents include
Earl Doherty, Profesor G.A. Wells, Robert M. Price, Hermann Detering, Freke and Gandy, P. Alfrani, AcharyaS (some more agnostic than strictly MJ-ers)
Quentin David Jones,
last updated : Southern Autumn Equinox 2004
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