“Jesus,” the rebel against Judaism

For the last several decades a wrong-headed and tiresome refrain has emanated from the theological podiums (or is it podia?) around the USA: “Jesus was a Torah-observant Jew.” So I myself learned on the first day of a New Testament course at the University of Oregon some years ago. The professor—Daniel Falk, a respected specialist in Qumran studies—quickly elaborated a little: Christianity was “a very significant modification of the religion of ancient Israel… It and Judaism are two offshoots of ancient Israel. Both came from rabbinic Judaism. Later, Christianity became a gentile religion.” The bottom line was clear: Jesus brought nothing radically new. He was in fact quite orthodox! What was “new” was Paul’s mis-interpretation of Jesus’ Jewish message…   … Continue reading

Thomas Brodie, mythicist priest:
Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus—Pt. 3

(Published Easter Sunday) On this Easter Sunday, ‘year of our Lord’ 2013, we may note that Father Thomas Brodie’s Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus offers the world a closely reasoned analysis showing that “Jesus of Nazareth” is a fiction, a literary construct cunningly based on Jewish scripture. Brodie has done nothing less than deconstruct normative Christianity based on literary source criticism. Of course, Thomas Brodie is no Johnny come lately, no dillettante, no wild-eyed hater of Christianity… He is both a Dominican priest and a distinguished bible scholar with an extensive resumé of published work going back many decades. Throughout his academic career, Brodie’s specialization has been literary source criticism. In this domain, he is the expert. Brodie … Continue reading

Thomas Brodie, mythicist priest:
Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus—Pt. 1

I have just finished reading Thomas L. Brodie’s Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery (Sheffield Phoenix, 2012). A friend gifted me his copy (thanks Alan) and that prompted me to immediately read this important monograph and to delay the rest of the “to read” pile on my desk. Being a painfully slow reader, I spent several weeks on the book and now offer my extended comments on this signal publication in the history of Jesus mythicism. Beyond the Quest is a mixture of two things: autobiography and historical-theological analysis, all (except chp. 7) written in an accessible style—like having an extended cup of coffee (p. xv). Jesus mythicists may not be that interested in the … Continue reading

The Natsarene Religion – Pt. 1 (Salm)

The thrust of Jesus mythicism is to establish that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist—he was an invented figure. Much ink is now being spilled demonstrating this and—even in the unlikely case that the question were settled by scholarship in the next decade or so—acceptance of Jesus mythicism by the general populace will probably require several more decades. However, showing that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist as an historical figure is not the end of the road. There are some, myself included, who strongly suspect that a human prophet was ultimately behind various Christian, Mandean, and Gnostic writings of late antiquity. I call this view semi-mythicism. Perhaps the prophet in question was John the Baptist. Perhaps he was the … Continue reading

My journey as a “spiritual atheist”—Pt. 3

Motive, means, and opportunity Reflecting upon Jesus’ virgin birth, resurrection, and everything in between, I was now convinced that his various biographies as presented in the gospels are pure fiction. Liberal scholarship has amply confirmed this and shown, for example, that the birth stories in Matthew and Luke are incompatible and preposterous as history. King Herod did not murder the babies of Bethlehem—no Roman writer noted such an atrocious act. No star stood still over the village. No census required people to return to their birthplace—a prescription for social chaos, otherwise unknown, that the practical Romans would never have mandated. In other words, Christianity is founded on an invented story—indeed, upon a “lie.” That is a harsh word, but no … Continue reading

Dr. Lena Einhorn’s “time shift” hypothesis

Lena Einhorn’s book The Jesus Mystery: Astonishing Clues to the True Identities of Jesus and Paul (2007) made two arguments: (1) the standard chronology of the New Testament is about twenty years too early (this is Einhorn’s “time shift” theory); and (2) that Jesus and Paul were one and the same person. I have not read the book, nor have I heard either of these theories before. But I have just finished reading Einhorn’s remarkable SBL paper regarding the first of the above theories. It is masterful. Not the typical New Testament scholar Lena Einhorn is a medical doctor with a PhD in Virology and Tumor Biology from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. In the 1980s she changed course and began … Continue reading

Ten steps to the birth of Christianity: My view

1. A PREACHER (“Teacher”) is born in Palestine towards the beginning of the common era. He claims to have found answers to the ultimate questions facing mankind and attempts to teach others the “Way” to understanding and fulfillment. His teachings conform to the Gnostic type and are fundamentally secular—the exercise of human reason and the application of effort towards the “understanding of life” (Mandaic: manda d’hayye).   2. THE REBELLION: The Teacher challenges the religious institutions of his time and place (as did the Buddha and Zoroaster before him). He considers Jewish teachings useless and misleading: cant, rite, sacrifice, and obedience. Though born a Hebrew, he rebels against Judaism. 3. THE BEGINNING OF A NEW RELIGION: Some followers listen to … Continue reading

John was Jesus? (Price) Pt. 2

“Was Jesus John the Baptist Raised from the Dead?” by Robert M. Price, Ph.D. Being Chapter Seven of Jesus is Dead (American Atheist Press, 2007) Reproduced by permission, in three parts. With occasional added footnotes in green by R. Salm Part Two In a Looking Glass Darkly Mark 1:14 (“And after John had been delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God.”) has Jesus neatly replace John on the public stage, occasioning the popular opinion that Jesus’ public advent signaled the miraculous return of John. Note the use of paradidomi, the same pregnant word used for the sacrificial delivering up of Jesus to death, whether by God (Romans 8:32) or by Judas Iscariot (Mark 3:19). Can the … Continue reading

The Christ and Jesus (Ory)

Georges Ory The Christ and Jesus (pages 29–38) Éditions du Cercle d’Éducation Populaire Brussels, 1968 Translated from the French, with notes in green, by R. Salm Priority of “Chrestos” The most ancient inscription that we have from a church dates to 318 CE. It is from Lebaba, next to Damascus, and the church was Marcionite. The inscription addresses Chrestos (“the Good”) and not Christus (“the Anointed” or “the Messiah”). The Marcionites equally employed the word Agathos to designate the “Good God.” Innumerable Christian epitaphs carry the name Chrestos. These are often found in Phrygia and everywhere in catacombs. In Rome, some inscriptions translate the Greek word by its Latin equivalent Bonus, thus: Eugenii spiritus in Bono (“May the spirit of … Continue reading