Note: Though these books are not all “mythicist,” all provide scholarly support for that point of view. “I soon learned how little it mattered that the serious student agree with every point, even the main point, of a book. The thing is to find fresh food for thought and to encounter new perspectives not presented in the stale tomes of the orthodox and conventional.”—Robert M. Price. Thanks to Dr. Price for links to many of his reviews below, and for a number of (sometimes irreverent) comments that follow, variously by him and by myself.—René Salm.
– The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (1970)
– The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth (Prometheus, 1984)
Jesus was nothing other than a magic mushroom and his life an allegorical interpretation of a drug-induced state. Not jail for Allegro—but professional ruin.
BAUER, Bruno. Christ & the Caesars: The Origin of Christianity from Romanized Greek Culture. 359 pp. Rpt (1999) Charleston House Pub.
Paul wrote none of the ‘Pauline’ epistles. The most important individual catalyst for Christian emergence was not Jesus (whom Mark created) but Seneca, many of whose maxims and ideals appear unaltered at the heart of the New Testament. Bauer was the ideological founder of the Dutch Radical School. Dr. Price’s review.
CAROTTA, Francesco. Jesus Was Caesar: On the Julian Origin of Christianity (2005)
Exhaustive inventory of parallels. Alarmingly, asserts Caesar was Jesus.
CARRIER, Richard. On the Historicity of Jesus (Sheffield Phoenix, 2014)
A careful review of the evidence for and against.
CASCIOLI, Luigi. The Fable of Christ (2001)
Indicting the Papacy for profiteering from a fraud! The Christian Jesus Christ was an intentional fabrication in the mid-second century CE by revolutionary Essenes. Dr. Price’s review.
CHILDS, Hal. The Myth of the Historical Jesus and the Evolution of Consciousness (2000)
A psychotherapist take on the godman.
CHWOLSOHN, Daniil. Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus (1856, rpt. Elibron 2005)
Everything about this author (including pronouncing his name) is not for the faint of heart. His magnum opus redefines “massive.” The first volume is a mere 825 pp. (in two parts). The second volume comes in at 920 pp. (also in two parts, online at GoogleBooks). And what might be so interesting about the Sabians (or is it Ssabaeans)? Well, among other things (I confess to not having yet read this übergrosses Werk), they have proto-Christian and Arabian roots, a proto-gnostic religion, are probably to be equated with the Mandeans, and have strong links to the irrepressibly non-conformist city of Harran in northern Mesopotamia.—RS
COUCHOUD, Paul L.
– The Creation of Christ: An Outline of the Beginning of Christianity (2 vols). Watts & Co. (1939)
– The enigma of Jesus, translated by Winifred Whale (Winifred Stephens). With an introduction by Sir James Frazer. London Watts & Co.; 1st Edition (1924).
– The Book of Revelation: A key to Christian origins. 179 pp. Watts (1932)
– The First Edition of the Paulina. (From: Premiers ecrits du Christianisme, Paris 1930). 14 pp.
CUTNER, Herbert. Jesus: God, Man, or Myth? (1950)
Mythical nature of Jesus and a summary of the ongoing debate between mythicists and historicizers. Mythic-only position is continuous tradition, not novel. Pagan origins of Christ.
DETERING, Hermann. Falsche Zeugen: ausserchristliche Jesuszeugnisse auf dem Prüfstand (“False Witnesses: Non-Christian Witnesses to Jesus on Trial,” 2011).
The alleged witnesses to Jesus’ existence attest to neither a historical Jesus of Nazareth nor to the existence of Christianity in the first century CE. The negative results of historical inquiry can only place Christian faith in a precarious position. Detering passed away in 2018. Extensive links to his work are on this site beginning here and in the Sitemap.
– Jesus Neither God nor Man: The Case for a Mythical Jesus. 814 pp. Age of Reason Publications; First edition (2009)
This is a mammoth expansion of the author’s The Jesus Puzzle (1999). Christianity started as a mystical-revelatory Jewish sect—no Jesus required! Doherty is the successor to Wells, who has moved a bit from pure mythicism. Doherty believes the early Christians did not believe Christ ever came to earth, but was sacrificed by spiritual entities on a higher cosmic plane. Wells thought the early Christians believed in a Jesus who had been on earth long before, but that in fact he never existed. Review by R. Perez-Franco (MIT).
– Challenging the Verdict: A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ.” 272 pp. Age of Reason Publications, Canada (2001).
– The Christ Myth. (Westminster College-Oxford Classics in the Study of Religion, 1910). 304 pp. Rpt Prometheus Books, 1998.
– Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus. (Watts Publ., 1912) 319 pp. Rpt Ayer Co. Pub (1972).
DUJARDIN, Edouard. Ancient History of the God Jesus (London: Watts, 1938)
– James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Viking Penguin (2001)
A mammoth, labyrinthine book which places the Essenes, Jewish Christianity, and Pauline Christianity in controversial contexts based on Eisenman’s own primary research into the Dead Sea scrolls. Armed with a hermeneutic of suspicion, Eisenman shows us how to crack the codes of theological disinformation, to listen to the long-faded echoes, to find handholds up what had seemed an insurmountable climb to a peak from which to view the hitherto unseen landscape of early Christianity. Dr. Price’s review.
– The New Testament Code: The Cup of the Lord, the Damascus Covenant, and the Blood of Christ. London: Watkins. (2006)
A difficult, massive, but ultimately rewarding read. The Dead Sea Scrolls clearly stem from the mid to late first century CE. Price writes: “Teicher was right. Eisenman is right. The Scrolls are the legacy of the Jerusalem Christians led by the Heirs of Jesus: James the Just, Simeon bar Cleophas, and Judas Thomas. The Teacher of Righteous was James the Just (though Arthur E. Palumbo, Jr., The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Personages of Earliest Christianity, 2004, may be right: as per Barbara Thiering, John the Baptist may have been the first to hold that office, with James as his successor). The Spouter of Lies who ‘repudiated the Torah in the midst of the congregation’ was Paul. It was he who ‘founded a congregation on lies,’ namely the tragically misled ‘Simple of Ephraim,’ converts from among the Gentile God-fearers who knew no better. The Wicked Priest was Ananus ben Ananus, whom Josephus credits with lynching James on the Day of Atonement… Eisenman‘s monumental work stands as a new milestone in the progress of New Testament research.” Dr. Price’s review.
ELLEGÅRD, Alvar. Jesus One Hundred Years Before Christ: A Study In Creative Mythology (London 1999)
Christianity seen as emerging from the Essene Church of God with the Teacher of Righteousness as Jesus prototype.
FAU, Guy. Le Fable de Jesus Christ (Éditions de l&38217;Union rationalistle, 1964, 1967)
FREKE, Timothy and Peter GANDY.
– The Jesus Mysteries: Was the “Original Jesus” a Pagan God? 360 pp. Three Rivers Press (1999)
A powerful demonstration that there was very likely no historical Jesus, but that the character was based on a sectarian Jewish adaptation of pagan god-men such as Dionysus, Osiris, and Attis. Jesus began as an allegorization of the OT Joshua (himself perhaps a mythic version of King Josiah).
– Jesus and the Lost Goddess: The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians (2001)
Examines the close relationship between the Jesus Story and that of Osiris-Dionysus. Jesus and Mary Magdalene are mythic figures based on the Pagan Godman and Goddess. Dr. Price’s review.
HARPUR, Tom. The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. 260 pp. Walker Books (2005).
Canadian New Testament scholar and ex-Anglican priest re-states the ideas of Kuhn, Higgins and Massey. Jesus is a myth and all of the essential ideas of Christianity originated in Egypt. Dr. Price’s review.
JACKSON, John G.
– Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth (1941)
– Man, God, and Civilization (1970)
– Christianity Before Christ (1985)
Most influential Black Atheist drew attention to the Ethiopian and Egyptian precedents of Christian belief.
KUHN, Alvin B.
– Who is this King of Glory? (1944)
– Rebirth for Christianity (1970)
Jesus was never a person, but a symbol of the divine soul in every human being.
LIEDNER, Harold. The Fabrication of the Christ Myth. (2000)
Anachronisms and geographic errors of the gospels denounced. Christianity one of history’s most effective frauds.
– The Great Deception: And What Jesus Really Said and Did (1998)
– Paul: The Founder of Christianity Prometheus (2002) Dr. Price’s review.
– The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Inquiry (2004)
After 25 years of study the German professor concluded that Paul, not Jesus, started Christianity. Lüdemann was expelled from the theology faculty at the University of Göttingen for daring to say that the Resurrection was “a pious self-deception.” So much for academic freedom.
MACK, Burton. The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy (Continuum, 2003)
MASSEY, Gerald. The Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ. 277 pp. A & B Book Dist Inc; Facsimile of 1886 edition (1992)
MESSORI, Vittorio. Jesus Hypotheses. St Paul Publications (1977).
NIELSEN, Ditlef. The Old Arabian Moon Religion and the Mosaic Tradition. Strassburg: Karl Trübner (1904). Nielsen was a pioneer in a field whose importance cannot be overestimated, yet which has received scant attention. Well worth the effort to procure and study.
ONFRAY, Michel. Traité d’Athéologie (2005). (English: In Defence of Atheism, 2007)
French philosopher argues for a positive Atheism, debunking an historical Jesus along the way.
– An analysis of Christian origins. 68 pp. Secular Society Limited (1961)
– Hypothese sur Jean le Baptiseur. 24 pp. Paris: Cahiers du Cercle Ernest Renan, No. 10 (1956).
This radical and overlooked writer produced numerous tracts (20-50 pages) for the Cahiers du Cercle Ernest Renan. Already at mid-century, Ory identified John the Baptist with Jesus and asserted other radical theses. His work is mostly untranslated and difficult to find in N. America.
– Le Christ et Jésus. Bruxelles: Éditions du Pavillon (1968). 285 pp.
– Deconstructing Jesus. Amherst, N.Y. Prometheus Books. (2000)A. Cline’s review.
– The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable is the Gospel Tradition? Amherst, N.Y. Prometheus Books. (2003). Ex-minister and multiply-accredited scholar shows Jesus to be a fictional amalgam of several 1st century prophets, mystery cult redeemers and gnostic ‘aeons’. A. Cline’s review.
RASKIN, Jay. The Evolution of Christs and Christianities (2006)
Academic and erstwhile filmaker Raskin looks beyond the official smokescreen of Eusebius and finds a fragmented Christ movement and a composite Christ figure, crafted from several literary and historical characters. Speculates that the earliest layer of myth-making was a play written by a woman called Mary—you read it here first.
ROBERTSON, John M.
– Pagan Christs: Studies in Comparative Hierology. 484 pp. Kessinger Publishing, LLC (2003).
– Christianity And Mythology. 496 pp. Kessinger Publishing, LLC (2004).
RYLANDS, L. Gordon. Did Jesus Ever Live? 120 pp. Watts, 2nd edition (1936).
—The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus. American Atheist Press. 375 pp. (2008). R. Price writes: “Salm examines every bit of known evidence from the Nazareth Plateau. What a disparity between his results (none of them methodologically dubious, none controversial except in result) and the blithe generalizations of certain well-known Bible encyclopedias and Bible archaeology handbooks.… New Testament minimalism: full speed ahead!” Dr. Price’s review.
—NazarethGate. American Atheist Press. 518+21 pp. (2015). The bulk of the book examines bias and outright misrepresentation in archeological work done since 2008. The final chapter fleshes out an old theory: the prophet behind Christian origins was Yeshu ha-Notri, a figure from the early first century BCE. (For information and ordering click on the “My books” tab at the top of this page.)
SAYCE, Archibald H.
– The Religions of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia (Gifford Lectures), T. Clark (1902).
– The “Higher Criticism” and the Verdict of the Monuments. Soc. for Promoting Christian Knowledge. New York: E. Young (1984).
– Babylonian Literature S. Bagster (1877).
– Where Was Mount Sinai? London (1893).
– The Book of Daniel Unlocked (with W. Auchincloss). New York: D. van Nostrand (1905).
This far-ranging Assyriologist has been a perennial thorn in the side of the tradition. Sayce propounded numerous radical theories and had the learning to back them up. Certainly, not all his ideas are of equal value, but this scholar should be taken seriously even today.
SCHMITHALS, Walter. The Theology of the First Christians. Westminster/John Knox Press (1997)
R. Price writes: “Mark belonged to kerygmatic, Messianic Christianity (the Christ cult, if you will) and became aware of the remnants of the Galilean Jesus movement who understood Jesus non-messianically (or pre-messianically) as a prophet. This movement would later become the Ebionites of the second century. Mark sought to bring them into the fold, arguing that Jesus was the Messiah, but that understandably the Galileans did not know it because of Jesus‘ scheme to keep it secret till later… The Theology of the First Christians is a great book by a great New Testament scholar. No one will fail to learn much from it. ” Dr. Price’s review.
SCHONFIELD, Hugh. The Essene Odyssey. Element Books (1993)
The Teacher of Righteousness was buried in Kashmir. A preliminary Jewish messiah (Joseph) atoned by his alleged death in a cistern for the sins of the people, paving the way for the victorious Messiah ben David (Jesus).
Dr. Price’s review.
– The Birth of the Gospel: A Study of the Origin and Purport of the Primitive Allegory of the Jesus. 232 pp. Philosophical Libr. (1957)
– Ecce Deus: Studies of Primitive Christianity. 352 pp. The Open court Pub. Co (1913).
THOMPSON, Thomas L. The Messiah Myth (2006)
Theologian, university don and historian of the Copenhagen school concludes that both Jesus and David are amalgams of Near Eastern mythological themes originating in the Bronze Age…
UNTERBRINK, Daniel. Judas the Galilean: The Flesh and Blood Jesus
Explores in detail parallels between the tax rebel of 6 AD and the phantom of the Gospels. ‘Judas is Jesus.’ Well, part of Jesus, no doubt.
VERGNAS, Georges Las.
– Pourquoi j’ai quitté l’Eglise romaine Besançon (1956)
– Jésus-Christ a-t-il existé?
Vicar general of the diocese of Limoges who lost his faith. Argues that the central figure of Christianity had no historical existence.
– The Jesus of the Early Christians: A Study in Christian origins. 362 pp. Pemberton; First edition (1971)
– Did Jesus Exist? 250 pp. Prometheus Books (1987)
– The Historical Evidence for Jesus. 265 pp. Prometheus Books (1988)
– Who Was Jesus? A Critique of the New Testament Record. 244 pp. Open Court Publishing Company (1989)
– The Jesus Myth. 350 pp. Open Court 1998.
– Can We Trust the New Testament? Thoughts on the Reliability of Early Christian Testimony. (2004).
– The Jesus Legend. 320 pp. Open Court Publishing Company (1996)
Wells sets the debate on a new footing, bypassing the Mystery Religions for the Jewish Wisdom Myth as the basis for a purely mythic Christ. Why so many books? He has to keep correcting misrepresentations of his work by half-awake critics. He also reviews the latest historical Jesus literature and apologetics.
ZINDLER, Frank. The Jesus the Jews Never Knew. American Atheist Press. 524 pp. (2004)
No evidence in Jewish sources for the phantom messiah. Zindler carries the debate on both Josephus and (for good measure) Tacitus much farther along, making all apologetical appeal to these interpolations no longer credible even to wishful thinkers. Dr. Price’s review.