Category:Jesus Myth Theory (subject)

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The Jesus Myth Theory denies entirely the historicity of the Gospel narratives about Jesus of Nazareth.


According to this non-fictional theory, the Jesus we know from the Gospels is an entirely mythical figure. His "historical" biography was fabricated by early Christians, by adopting popular myths and legends of the time, commonly attributed to the "historical" lives of other gods or demigods. Hercules, Orpheus, Attis of Phrygia, Adonis of Syria, Dionysius of Greece, Mithra of Persia, and Osiris and Horus of Egypt are among the pagan gods with legends about miraculous birth, healing power, persecution, redemption, atonement and resurrection similar to those ascribed to Jesus.

In its more radical version the Jesus Myth Theory argues that a person called Jesus of Nazareth never existed; other proponents of the theory contend that there might have been a historical character named Jesus but is completely unrecognizable behind his mythical metamorphosis.

In some authors (notably, Bruno Bauer and Arthur Drews), the Jesus Myth Theory was motivated or influenced by antisemitic attitudes, in the attempt to separate radically the Christian Jesus from his Jewish environment and to turn Christianity into a totally non-Jewish religion based on Hellenistic or "Aryan" traditions.

Contemporary critical scholars dismiss the Jesus Myth Theory; see Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (2012 Ehrman), book. Although the Gospels contain "mythological" elements and cannot be taken as accurate reports of Jesus' life, they are not entirely unhistorical; they are theological re-interpretations of the life of a real person (the Historical Jesus).

Major proponents of the Jesus Myth Theory

Two 18th-century French philosophers, Charles François Dupuis (1742–1809) and Constantin-François Volney (1757–1820) are credited for first developing the idea that Jesus should be viewed as an entirely mythical character. They rejected the historicity of Jesus and explained the origins of Christian narratives about Jesus as mere allegories based on solar pagan myths and rituals.

The theories of Dupuy and Volney influenced the work (and the language) of scholar David Friedrich Strauss, who in 1835 contended that the gospels should be regarded as largely mythical (not historical) narratives. Strauss however did not question either the historicity of Jesus, or the existent of a certain continuity between his preaching and the "mythical" interpretations of his disciples, thus laying the foundations of modern critical scholarship on the Historical Jesus.

The Jesus Myth Theory was revived by Bruno Bauer. In his work we find, openly expressed, that kind of antisemitic prejudice that would become distinctive in some proponents of the Theory, especially in Germany. In Bauer's view, the roots of Christianity are in Hellenistic philosophy (Seneca and Philo), not in Judaism.

Bauer's ideas were taken up in the Netherlands by the so-called Dutch radical school () and in Great Britain by authors such as Gerald Massey, Edwin Johnson, J.M. Robertson, and Thomas Whittaker. In Germany, Arthur Drew's adherence to the Jesus Myth Theory degenerated into a virulent antisemitism who led him to support the rise of the German Faith Movement, a form of neo-Pagan Aryanism meant to replace both Judaism and Christianity.

After World War II, an extravagant variant of the Jesus Myth Theory was developed in the 1970s by John Marco Allegro, who traced the origins of Christianity in Near Eastern fertility cults, suggesting that Christianity was founded not on the memory of an actual human being, but on the ritual use of hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Contemporary proponents of the Jesus Myth Theory include George Albert Wells, Alvar Ellegård, Earl Doherty, Robert M. Price, and Tom Harpur. With Acharya S the Jesus Myth Theory has entered the fictional realm of Conspiracy Theories.

Three documentaries -- The God Who Wasn't There (2005 Flemming), The Pagan Christ (2007 Banks), and Zeitgeist: The Movie (2008 Joseph) -- as well as numerous websites have contributed in recent years to the renaissance of the Jesus Myth Theory, which however seems to have lost definitively any consensus in critical scholarship.

Some Books supporting the Jesus Myth Theory

Documentaries supporting the Jesus Myth Theory

The Jesus Myth Theory in Scholarship

Scholarly treatments of the subject include:

External links

Pages in category "Jesus Myth Theory (subject)"

The following 51 pages are in this category, out of 51 total.