What DID the Early Christians Believe?

Shadowy Mr Big behind worldwide criminal organisation. Known variously as 'Jesus', 'Christ', 'Lord', and 'Saviour'. Persistent rumours of a brief appearance in Palestine though unknown in official records. Cult members convince themselves JC is alive today. Intelligence suggests never actually existed.

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Kenneth Humphreys



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He who has ears
Let him hear!

The Year 36

5-minute enlightenment
for those in a hurry





Now let's see:

• born from a god (Zeus) and a mortal virgin mother (Alcmene).

• while still an infant, a jealous goddess, Hera, tried to kill him.

• performed miraculous deeds.

• descended into Hades.

• died in agony.

• rose again as a god.

Should we believe in an historical Hercules? He's mentioned by Tacitus, Josephus and others.
In short, we have as much (that is, as little) evidence for an historical Hercules as a historical Jesus.




12th Labour

Hercules at the tree of Hesperides, with apples and a snake.

Sound a tad familiar?

(British Museum)









Christians today, who affect such certainty over what their godman said and did, might be well served to pause and reflect that Christians who lived within a generation or two of their supposed saviour had no such certainty, that they speculated wildly, disagreed with each other to the point of violence, and organised rival churches.

For more than two hundred and fifty years the enthusiasts of Christ concocted astonishing fairy tales drawn from Pagan and Jewish antecedents and their own imagination.

Forget the glib assertion that the Jesus story 'got off the ground quickly and spread rapidly.' Let's consider a few thorns in the crown of the godman:



Sun God

Precisely when did this story spread?

Bizarre Beginnings – The Assortment of Early Christian Belief

Inconvenient fact: many cardinal "Christian" beliefs, including belief in a sacrificial godman, had been widespread for centuries before the Christians appeared. The evidence shows clearly that the Christians took over pre-existing beliefs and sacraments rather than introduced new ones. The first believers in Jesus maintained he was an ethereal spirit, much like other sky/sun-gods. Only later did he acquire a human death, a human life and finally a human birth.


Abraxas Jesus

Precisely what story got off the ground?

Nice Gnostics – Christian 'Mystics of Knowledge'

Inconvenient fact: there never was just one Christianity. Out of the milieu of religiosity that infected the Roman world, dozens of competing and conflicting Jesus/Sun-god/Mystery cults emerged and early Christianity was characterized by wildly variable beliefs about their hero. The earliest Christian theorists denied a physical incarnation of their Lord and knew nothing of the Bethlehem saga.


Constantine Jesus

Picture essay – The Evolving Legend

How the Godman is Made and Remade

The composite 'Jesus Christ' character – god, man, king, carpenter, conqueror, peace-maker, dispenser of justice, advocate of love – was assembled to try to unify a fragmented and fractious messianic religious movement.


Zodiac Jesus

Precisely where did this story spread?

Making an Apology – 'We're just like you'

Inconvenient fact: The middle decades of the 2nd century were the most prosperous age of the Roman Empire. With the catastrophic defeat of the Jews in 135 everything Jewish was treated with opprobrium. Christian writers in the great cities of the eastern empire scrambled to use Greek logic and the style of the sophists to defend Christianity. The Jewishness of the faith was  purged but the apologists had little to say about a human Jesus. They took comfort in noting similarities between their own ideas and pagan myths.


Pagans were campaigning to restore the Altar of Victory to the Senate House even in the 5th century.

A mass following?

Orthodoxy and the Early Church – Winners and Losers

Inconvenient fact: evidence of early Christian communities is scanty. The Christians remained a minority until well after one particular faction formed a political alliance with the State. The orthodox creed was unpopular for centuries; persecution was necessary to impose its will.







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Copyright © 2005 by Kenneth Humphreys.
Copying is freely permitted, provided credit is given to the author and no material herein is sold for profit.