Jesus Never Existed

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Jesus Never Existed

A History of 'Jesus Denial'

In a culture based upon Christianity the denial of Jesus’ existence may appear at first glance absurd or even stupid. After all, goes the argument, “mainstream scholarship” accepts that there was a historical Jesus, even if there is no agreement as to actually who he was, precisely when he was, what he did or what he said.

Fact and Fancy

Today, New Testament scholars steer a course between two worlds, one in which a theological Jesus (“divine son of God”) holds centre stage – but this Jesus, of course, is acknowledged to be a matter of faith; and the other, “the world of a historical Jesus”.

Detailed, often meticulous, investigation of the history, culture and politics of Palestine in the second temple period creates a historically authoritative background. Against this background, a wafer thin construct of “Jesus” makes his spectral appearance.

But it is the historical context itself which allows this phantom saviour to “live”, “die” and “resurrect” and thereby cast its false shadow back upon history.

“We’re certain that Jerusalem existed, Herod, Pharisees and Romans, why not a Jesus?” Cue the Discovery Channel documentary:

“These are the type of sandals Jesus would have worn.This is the type of tree he would have rested under.”

Inertia of the Soft Option

Professional historians are not necessarily engaged by any particular interest in the issue of Jesus – and are all too aware of its controversial nature. A scholar who announces that he thinks there was no historical Jesus is likely to face scorn, even ridicule, and will gain little for his candour.

Thus most scholars, raised and educated in a Christian culture are content either to assume Jesus lived (and defer to the opinions of biblical specialists who are often men of faith) or, given the paucity of evidence for a great many historical personages, preface their uncertainty with a “probably“. It is much safer for them to aver the “probability of a man behind the legend” even while arguing that layers of encrusted myth obscure knowing anything about him.

This “safe” and gutless option maintains simultaneously the “obscurity” of a carpenter in an ancient provincial backwater (“absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”) and an academic detachment from “faith issues” which raised that supposed obscure guru to an iconic status.


A Flawed Scenario

Yet would, could a world-faith have arisen from a nonentity who failed in his own lifetime to have been noticed by anyone? How creditable is it that a wandering rabbi, who wrote nothing himself, an also-ran in a world full of fakirs, soothsayers and exorcists, could have cast such a spell as to have reverberated through the ages?

A “minimalist” Jesus is actually less satisfactory than no Jesus at all because it still requires a search elsewhere for the roots of the new religion. And if the roots are to be found elsewhere what need is there for the obscure personage anyway?

“It is very doubtful whether the Christian faith could have been built upon the foundations of a historic Jesus … who was little more than a teacher of practical philosophy.”

– J. Macquarrie (An Existential Theology, p23)

If we agree that a peripatetic, rabbinic radical called Jesus, unnoticed in the historical record, is not implausible then by the same token, nor would several such Jesuses be implausible.

Which of them would we elect to be the basis for the Christian faith as God’s “only begotten son”? If it could have been any of them then it was none of them.

Either JC was a divinity who chose to dazzle multitudes but leave no trace, who contrived to influence – not the Jewish people – but a mere handful of shadowy devotees whose successors rapidly split into numerous warring factions; or JC is the fabrication of human minds, a construct betrayed at every turn by contradiction and omission.

Salvation by Reason

Ironically, it was the work of a number of liberal theologians, rather than freethinkers, who first fractured that glorious fabrication Jesus, Son of God, Saviour of the World.

The “received wisdom” of the Church was first challenged during the European Reformation, which gave legitimacy to criticism of the papal system. Having opened the flood gates, all religious authorities and scripture itself were called into question and Protestantism emerged in myriad disparate sects. But after a thousand years of Church-enforced ignorance “school men” had but a small stock of real knowledge. As sinecured churchmen, these scholars struggled to use the rediscovered tools of logic to defend the dogmas of Christianity, whether of the Roman Catholic or new “pure” reformed variety.

But after two centuries, as the Enlightenment unfolded, brave theologians began to draw attention to the obvious errors and incongruities in accepted scripture. Why, they asked, was the New Testament silent about most of Jesus’ life? Why did Paul say almost nothing about the life of Jesus?

During the American and French Revolutions freethinkers went much further, questioning the veracity of the entire Bible and denouncing Christianity as a bogus superstition and an instrument of oppression. A new minimalist faith was born, “deism”, in which a creator god played no direct role in human affairs.


Higher Criticism

In the century that followed a radical minority – notably, scholars of the Tübingen School in mid-19th century Germany and Dutch Radical critics of the late-19th/early 20th centuries – continued to press the case that the Christian Lord and Savior was a pious fabrication, his whole “life”, trial and crucifixion a pastiche of verses from Jewish scripture.

To those who looked beyond the blinkered vision of Christianity it was very apparent that much of the Jesus tale had parallels in much older fables, which had identical principal and supporting characters, identical story lines, and identical moral purpose. Christianity, it was clear, had not fallen from heaven but was a man-made production.

During the 20th century, rationalism, archaeology, and new techniques of scientific investigation forced a retrenchment upon defenders of the faith, despite the periodic upsurges in religious fervour. To accommodate the accumulating and undeniable evidence of biblical error, variegated “lives” of Jesus proliferated like algae on a sun-soaked pond.

“Mainstream” New Testament scholars, many of them committed Christians, had found a new home. A shadowy “Jesus of history” was now held to have existed beneath the admitted accumulated layers of faith-based fabrication.

Fearful to acknowledge that both their faith and careers were built on a monumental misconception they speculated on any number of fanciful ideas – a radical rabbi Jesus, a Mediterranean peasant Jesus, a Jesus with wife and family, a Jesus who travelled to England, India or Japan, a Stoic or Cynic philosopher Jesus – a Jesus for all seasons and all tastes. A hundred or more possible “biographies” for the godman contended, each contriving to avoid the obvious truth that no genuine reality underpinned the sacred fable.

End of Days

In the 21st century we face the paradox that though the unmasking of biblical fraud has gone further than ever before, global geopolitics finances and encourages a vociferous restatement of biblical fundamentalism and inerrancy, a torrent of misinformation, the sheer quantity of which can be overwhelming.

Most people have neither time nor inclination to delve deeply into the mass of evidence and argument. Christian apologists are ever-ready to denounce a “Christ-myther” as an isolated crank on the fringes of sanity, unworthy of serious consideration.

But their strident hostility hides the fear that the downfall of their superhero may not be far off. And what they can no longer deny or suppress is the fact that the exposure of “Jesus Christ” for the fabrication that it is, far from being the manic pursuit of odd-balls, has been embraced and endorsed by a continuous stream of talented scholars in all countries.

Demolishing the historicity of Jesus – A History

For more than 200 years a minority of courageous scholars have dared to question the story of Jesus. Despite the risks of physical assault, professional ruin and social opprobrium, they have seriously doubted the veracity of the gospel saga, have peeled away the layers of fraud and deceit and eventually have challenged the very existence of the godman.

Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768).1778, On the Intention of Jesus and His Teaching. [link] Enlightenment thinker and professor of Oriental languages at the Hamburg Gymnasium, his extensive writings – published after his death – rejected ‘revealed religion’ and argued for a naturalistic deism. Reimarus charged the gospel writers with conscious fraud and innumerable contradictions.

Francois Marie Arouet (Voltaire) (1694-1778). [link] The most influential figure of the Enlightenment was educated at a Jesuit college yet concluded, “Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world … The true God cannot have been born of a girl, nor died on a gibbet, nor be eaten in a piece of dough.” Imprisoned, exiled, his works banned and burned, Voltaire’s great popularity in revolutionary France assured him a final resting place in the Pantheon in Paris. One story is that religious extremists stole his remains and dumped them in a garbage heap.

Baron d’Holbach (‘Boulanger’) (1723-1789) Philosopher of the Enlightenment. 1766, Christianity Unveiledbeing an examination of the principles and effects of the Chrisian Religion. 1769, Histoire critique de Jésus-Christ (Ecce Homo). Classics from the Age of Reason. Holbach concluded that:

Religion is the art of inspiring mankind with an enthusiam which is designed to divert their attention from the evils with which they are overwhelmed by those who govern them.” – Christianity Unveiled, 16.5

Count Constantine Volney, 1787, Les Ruines; ou, Méditation sur les révolutions des empires (Ruins of Empires). Napoleonic investigator saw for himself evidence of Egyptian precursors of Christianity.

Edward Evanson, 1792, The Dissonance of the Four Generally Received Evangelists and the Evidence of their Respective Authenticity. English rationalist challenged apostolic authorship of the 4th Gospel and denounced several Pauline epistles as spurious.

Charles François Dupuis, 1794, Origine de tous les Cultes ou La Religion universelle (The Origin of All Religious Worship) Astral-mythical interpretation of Christianity (and all religion). “A great error is more easily propagated, than a great truth, because it is easier to believe, than to reason, and because people prefer the marvels of romances to the simplicity of history.” Dupuis destroyed most of his own work because of the violent reaction it provoked.

Thomas Paine, 1795, The Age of Reason. Pamphleteer who made the first call for American independence (Common Sense, 1776; Rights  of Man, 1791) Paine poured savage ridicule on the contradictions and atrocities of the Bible. Like many American revolutionaries Paine was a deist:

“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of … Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all.”  – The Age of Reason.

Robert Taylor, 1828, Syntagma Of The Evidences Of The Christian Religion; 1829, Diegesis. Taylor was imprisoned for declaring mythical origins for Christianity“The earliest Christians meant the words to be nothing more than a personification of the principle of reason, of goodness, or that principle, be it what it may, which may most benefit mankind in the passage through life.”

Godfrey Higgins (1771-1834). 1836, Anacalypsis – An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis; or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions. English pioneer of archaeology and freemason.

David Friedrich Strauss, 1835The Life of Jesus Critically Examined. Lutheran vicar-turned-scholar skilfully exposed gospel miracles as myth and in the process reduced Jesus to a man. It cost him his career.

Bruno Bauer, 1841, Criticism of the Gospel History of the Synoptics. 1877, Christus und die Caesaren. Der Hervorgang des Christentums aus dem romischen Griechentum. (in English translation). The original iconoclast. Bauer contested the authenticity of all the Pauline epistles (in which he saw the influence of Stoic thinkers like Seneca) and identified Philo’s role in emergent Christianity. Bauer rejected the historicity of Jesus himself. “Everything that is known of Jesus belongs to the world of imagination.” As a result in 1842 Bauer was ridiculed and removed from his professorship of New Testament theology at Tübingen.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841, Essays. One time Trinitarian Christian and former Unitarian minister held Jesus to be a “true prophet” but that organised Christianity was an “eastern monarchy”.“Our Sunday-schools, and churches, and pauper-societies are yokes to the neck.”

Logan Mitchell, 1842, Christian Mythology Unveiled. 1881, Religion in the Heavens or Mythology Unveiled“Reigning opinion, however ill-founded and absurd, is always queen of the nations.”

Ferdinand Christian Baur, 1845, Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi. German scholar who identified as “inauthentic” not only the pastoral epistles, but also Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon and Philippians (leaving only the four main Pauline epistles regarded as genuine). Baur was the founder of the so-called “Tübingen School.

Charles Bradlaugh, 1860, Who Was Jesus Christ? What Did Jesus Teach? Most famous English atheist of the 19th century, founded the National Secular Society and became an MP, winning the right to affirm. Condemned the teachings of Jesus as dehumanizing passivity and disastrous as practical advice. Bradlaugh denounced the gospel Jesus as a myth.

Ernest Renan, 1863, Vie de Jésus (Das Leben Jesu / Life of Jesus). Although trained as a Catholic priest Renan was inspired by German biblical criticism and wrote a popular biography of Jesus which cost him his job (which he later regained). Renan concluded that the hero of the Christians was a gifted but merely human preacher, persuaded by his followers into thinking he was the messiahRenan subsequently wrote a History of the Origins of Christianity in seven volumes.

Sytze Hoekstra, 1871, Principles and Doctrine of the Early Anabaptists. Scholar of the Radical Dutch school, Hoekstra concluded Mark’s gospel had no value as a biography of Jesus. [link]

Robert Ingersoll, 1872, The Gods. 1879, Some Mistakes of Moses. Illinois orator extraordinaire, his speeches savaged the Christian religion. “It has always seemed to me that a being coming from another world, with a message of infinite importance to mankind, should at least have verified that message by his own signature. Is it not wonderful that not one word was written by Christ?

Walter Cassels, 1874, Supernatural Religion – An Inquiry Concerning the Reality of Divine Revelation

Kersey Graves, 1875, The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviours. Pennsylvanian Quaker who saw through to the pagan heart of Christian fabrications, though rarely cited sources for his far-reaching conclusions.

Allard Pierson, 1879, De Bergrede en andere synoptische Fragmenten. [link] Theologian, art and literature historian who identified The Sermon on the Mount as a collection of aphorisms from Jewish Wisdom literature.The publication of Pierson’s Bergrede was the beginning of Dutch Radical Criticism. Not just the authenticity of all the Pauline epistles but the historical existence of Jesus himself was called into question.

Bronson C. Keeler, 1881, A Short History of the Bible. A classic exposé of Christian fraud.

Abraham Dirk Loman, 1882, “Quaestiones Paulinae,” in Theologisch Tijdschrift. Professor of theology at Amsterdam who said all the epistles date from the 2nd century. Loman explained Christianity as a fusion of Jewish and Roman-Hellenic thinking. When he went blind Loman said his blindness gave him insight into the dark history of the church! [link]

Thomas William Doane, 1882, Bible Myths and their Parallels in Other Religions. Outdated but a classic revelation of pagan antecedents of biblical myths and miracles.

Samuel Adrianus Naber, 1886, Verisimilia. Laceram conditionem Novi Testamenti exemplis illustrarunt et ab origine repetierunt. Classicist who saw Greek myths hidden within Christian scripture. [link]

Gerald Massey, 1886, The Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ. 1907, Ancient Egypt-The Light of the World. Another classic from an early nemesis of the priesthood. British Egyptologist wrote six volumes on the religion of ancient Egypt.

Edwin Johnson, 1887, Antiqua Mater. A Study of Christian Origins. 1894, The Pauline Epistles: Re-studied and Explained. English radical theologian identified the early Christians  as the Chrestiani, followers of a good (Chrestus) God who had expropriating the myth of Dionysos Eleutherios (“Dionysos the Emancipator”), to produce a self-sacrificing Godman. Denounced the twelve apostles as complete fabrication.

Rudolf Steck, 1888, Der Galaterbrief nach seiner Echtheit untersucht nebst kritischen Bemerkungen zu den Paulinischen HauptbriefenRadical Swiss scholar branded all the Pauline epistles as fakes.

Franz Hartman, 1889, The Life of Johoshua: The Prophet of Nazareth.

Willem Christiaan van Manen, 1896, Paulus. Professor at Leiden and most famous of the Dutch Radicals, a churchman who did not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. After resisting the argument for many years van Manen concluded none of the Pauline epistles were genuine and that Acts was dependent on the works of Josephus. [link]

Joseph McCabe, 1897, Why I Left the Church. 1907, The Bible in Europe: an Inquiry into the Contribution of the Christian Religion to Civilization. 1914, The Sources of the Morality of the Gospels. 1926, The Human Origin of Morals. Franciscan monk-turned-evangelical atheist. McCabe, a prolific writer, shredded many parts of the Christ legend – “There is no ‘figure of Jesus’ in the Gospels. There are a dozen figures” – but he continued to allow the possibility for an historical founder..

Albert Schweitzer,1901, The Mystery of the Kingdom of God. 1906, The Quest of the Historical Jesus. The famous German theologian and missionary (35 years in the Cameroons) ridiculed the humanitarian Jesus of the liberals and at the same time had the courage to recognize the work of the Dutch Radicals. His own pessimistic conclusion was that the superhero had been an apocalyptic fanatic and that Jesus died a disappointed man. Famously said those looking for an historical Jesus merely “found a reflection of themselves.”

“The Dutch Radicals did not forget to question, when questioning had gone out of fashion for the rest of theology.” – Geschichte der paulinischen Forschung, 108.

Wilhelm Wrede, 1901, The Messianic Secret
 (Das Messiasgeheimnis in den Evangelien). Wrede demonstrated how, in Mark’s gospel, a false history was shaped by early Christian belief.

Albert Kalthoff, 1902, Das Christus-Problem. 1907, The Rise of Christianity. Another radical German scholar who identified Christianity as a psychosis. Christ was essentially the transcendental principle of the Christian community which aimed at apocalyptic social reform.

George Robert Stowe Mead, 1901, Apollonius of Tyana, the Philosopher-Reformer of the First Century A.D. 1903, Did Jesus Live 100 BC? 1907The Gnostic Crucifixion. A discussion of the Jewish Jeschu stories which moves Jesus back to an earlier time.

Thomas Whittaker, 1904, The Origins of Christianity. Declared that Jesus was a myththat the Christian movement began only after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 and that the whole body of New Testament writings date to the second century. How right he was!

Emilio Bossi/Milesbo 1904, Gesù Cristo non è mai esistito (Jesus Christ Never Existed). Bossi was a radical lawyer/journalist (“Milesbo” being his pen-name). Jesus is a concoction from Tanakh and the mystery cults, and Jesus’s ethics are a patchwork from Philo and Seneca.

William Benjamin Smith, 1906, Der vorchristliche Jesus. 1911, Die urchristliche Lehre des reingöttlichen Jesus. Argues for origins in a pre-Christian Jesus cult on the island of Cyprus. [link]

Gerardus Bolland, 1907, De Evangelische Jozua. Philosopher at Leiden identified the origin of Christianity in an earlier Jewish Gnosticism. The New Testament superstar is the Old Testament ‘son of Nun’, the follower renamed Jesus by Moses. The virgin is nothing but a symbol for the people of Israel. From Alexandria the “Netzerim” took their gospel to Palestine.

In 1907 Pope Pius X condemned the Modernists who were “working within the framework of the Church”. Among those denounced and excommunicated was Alfred Loisy (
The Gospel and the Church, 1902), Catholic priest and theologian who made the pithy observation “Jesus announced the Kingdom, and it’s the Church that came.” An anti-Modernist oath was introduced in 1910, as well as the Confession for children – opening the door for rampant abuse.

Prosper Alfaric (1886-1955)   French Professor of Theology, shaken by the stance of Pius X, renounced his faith and left the church in 1909 to work for the cause of rationalism.
 1929, Pour Comprendre La Vie De Jésus. 1932, The problem of Jesus and Christian Origins. 2005, Jésus-Christ a-t-il existé? [Jesus: Did he exist?] Alfaric drew attention to Essene antecedents of Christian dogma.

Peter Jensen, 1909, Moses, Jesus, Paul: Three Variations on the Babylonian Godman Gilgamesh. Orientalist argued that Jesus was reworked Babylonian mythology. [link]

Mangasar Magurditch Mangasarian, 1909, The Truth About Jesus. Is He a Myth? Erstwhile Presbyterian Minister who saw through the fabrication. “Even in the first centuries the Christians were compelled to resort to forgery to prove the historicity of Jesus.”

Karl Kautsky, 1909, The Foundations of Christianity. Early socialist interpreted Christianity in terms of class struggle. [link]

John E. Remsburg, 1909, The Christ: A critical review and analysis of the evidences of His existence. Gospels rife with contradictions. Doubtful that Jesus existed and a supernatural Christ is certainly Christian dogma.

Arthur Drews, 1910, Die Christusmythe (The Christ Myth). 1910, Die Petruslegende (The Legend of St Peter). 1912, The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus. 1924, Die Entstehung des Christentums aus dem Gnostizismus (The Emergence of Christianity from Gnosticism)1926, The Denial of the Historicity of JesusEminent philosopher was Germany’s greatest exponent of the contention that Christ is a myth. The gospels historized a pre-existing mystical Jesus whose character was drawn from the prophets and Jewish wisdom literature. The Passion was to be found in the speculations of Plato.

John Robertson, 1910, Christianity and Mythology. 1911, Pagan Christs. Studies in Comparative Hierology. 1917, The Jesus Problem. Robertson drew attention to the universality of many elements of the Jesus storyline and to pre-Christian crucifixion rituals in the ancient world. Identified the original Jesus/Joshua with an ancient Ephraimite deity in the form of a lamb.

Edouard Dujardin, 1910, The Source of the Christian tradition : a critical history of ancient Judaism1938, Ancient History of the God Jesus.

Gustaaf Adolf van den Bergh van Eysinga, 1908, Examining the Authenticity of the First Epistle of Clement1912, Radical Views about the New Testament. 1918, Voorchristelijk Christendom. De vorbereiding van het Evangelie in de Hellenistische wereld. 1930, Does Jesus Live, or Has He Only Lived? 1951, Early Christianity`s Letters. Theologian and last of the Dutch radicals to hold a university professorship.

Alexander Hislop, 1916, The Two Babylons. Exhaustive exposure of the pagan rituals and paraphernalia of Roman Catholicism.

Edward Carpenter, 1920, Pagan and Christian Creeds. Elaborated the pagan origins of Christianity.

Rudolf Bultmann, 1921, The History of the Synoptic Tradition. 1941, Neues Testament und Mythologie. Lutheran theologian and professor at Marburg University Bultman was the exponent of ‘form criticism’ and did much to demythologise the gospels. He identified the narratives of Jesus as theology served up in the language of myth. Bultmann observed that the New Testament was not the story of Jesus but a record of early Christian belief. He argued that the search for an historical Jesus was fruitless: “We can know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus.” (Jesus and the Word, 8)

James Frazer, 1922, The Golden Bough. Anthropological interpretation of man’s progress from magic, through religion to science. Christianity a cultural phenomenon.

Marshall J. Gauvin, 1922, Did Jesus Christ Really Live? Notable speaker in the Freethought movement questioned the very existence of a Jesus figure.

Paul-Louis Couchoud, 1924, Le mystère de Jesus. 1926La Première Edition de St. Paul. 1930, Jesus Barabbas. 1939, The Creation of Christ. Couchoud, a polymath, espoused an historical Peter rather than an historical Jesus and argued that the Passion was modelled on the death of Stephen.

Georg Brandes, 1925, Die Jesus-Sage. 1926, Jesus – A Myth. Danish scholar identified the Revelation of St John as the earliest part of the New Testament.

Joseph Wheless, 1926, Is It God’s Word? An Exposition of the Fables and Mythology of the Bible and the Fallacies of Theology. 1930, Forgery in Christianity. American attorney, raised in the Bible Belt, shredded the biblical fantasy.

Henri Delafosse1926L’épître aux Romains.1927Les Lettres d’Ignace d’Antioche1928, “Les e’crits de Saint Paul,” in Christianisme. Epistles of Ignatius denounced as late forgeries.

L. Gordon Rylands, 1927, The Evolution of Christianity.1935, Did Jesus Ever Live? [link]

John GJackson1933, Was Jesus Christ a Negro? 1937, Introduction To African Civilizations. 1941, Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth. 1970 Man, God, and Civilization. 1985, Christianity Before ChristMost influential Black Atheist drew attention to the Ethiopian and Egyptian precedents of Christian belief. [link]

Alvin Boyd Kuhn, 1944, Who is this King of Glory? 1949, Shadow of the Third Century1970, Rebirth for Christianity. Jesus was never a person, but a symbol of the divine soul in every human being. “We are forced to the conclusion that the Christian religion was born out of a misreading of the cryptic ancient Scriptures, by sincere but unschooled minds.” (Rebirth, 87).

Herbert Cutner, 1950, Jesus: God, Man, or Myth? 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.

Georges Las Vergnas, 1956, Pourquoi j’ai quitté l’Eglise romaine Besançon. 1958, Jésus-Christ a-t-il existé? [linkVicar general of the diocese of Limoges who lost his faith. Argues that the central figure of Christianity had no historical existence.

Georges Ory, 1961, An Analysis of Christian Origins. French scholar concluded “Jesus-Christ was not a human Messiah.” [link].

Guy Fau, 1967, Le Fable de Jesus Christ. [link]

John Allegro, 1970, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross. 1979, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Christian Myth. 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.

George Albert Wells, 1971, The Jesus of the Early Christians. 1975, Did Jesus Exist? 1988, The Historical Evidence for Jesus. 1996, The Jesus Legend. 1998, Jesus Myth. 1999, Earliest Christianity2004, Can We Trust the New Testament? Thoughts on the Reliability of Early Christian Testimony. 2009, Cutting Jesus Down to Size: What Higher Criticism Has Achieved and Where It Leaves Christianity. Christianity a growth from Jewish Wisdom literature. Wells remains one of the best known advocates of Jesus mythicism though his later books concede the possible influence of a real preacher via the postulated Q document. [link]

Phyllis Graham, 1974, The Jesus Hoax. The nonexistent godman denounced, this time by one of his former brides – an erstwhile Carmelite nun. [link]

Jean Magne, 1975, Christian Origins, I-II. 1989, III, IV. Logique des DogmesLogic of the Sacraments. 1993From Christianity to Gnosis and From Gnosis to Christianity: An Itinerary through the Texts to and from the Tree of Paradise.

Samuel Max Rieser, 1979, The True Founder of Christianity and the Hellenistic PhilosophyChristianity started by Jews of the Diaspora and then retroactively set in pre-70 Palestine. Christianity arrived last, not first, in Palestine – that’s why Christian archeological finds appear in Rome but not in Judea until the 4th century. [link]

Abelard Reuchlin, 1979, The True Authorship of the New Testament. Conspiracy theory par excellence: Roman aristocrat Arius Calpurnius Piso (aka “Flavius Josephus”, aka “Plutarch”, aka “Manetho”!) conspired to gain control of the Roman Empire by forging an entirely new religion. OMG, really? [link]

Nikos Vergidis, 1985, Νέρων και Χριστός [Nero and Christ] Greek scholar argues for Christian origins in Rome.

Karlheinz Deschner, 1986-2004, The Criminal History of Christianity, Volumes 1-8. A leading German critic of religion and the Church. In 1971 Deschner was called before a court in Nuremberg, charged with “insulting the Church.” [link]

Hermann Detering, 1992, Paulusbriefe ohne Paulus?: Die Paulusbriefe in der Holländischen Radikalkritik (The Pauline Epistles Without Paul)2012, Der gefälschte Paulus – Das Urchristentum im Zwielicht (The Falsified Paul. Early Christianity in the twilight). German minister in the Dutch radical tradition. No Jesus and no Paul. The latter Detering identifies with the Samaritan sorcerer Simon Magus.

Gary Courtney, 1992, 2004 Et tu, Judas? Then Fall Jesus! The Passion is essentially Caesar’s fate in Judaic disguise, grafted onto the dying/resurrcting cult of Attis. Jewish fans of Caesar assimilated the sacrificed ‘saviour of mankind’ into the ‘Suffering Servant’ of Isaiah. [link]

Michael Kalopoulos, 1995, The Great Lie. Greek historian finds strikingly similar parallels between biblical texts and Greek mythology. He exposes the cunning, deceitful and authoritarian nature of religion.

Gerd Lüdemann, 1998, The Great Deception: And What Jesus Really Said and Did. 2002, Paul: The Founder of Christianity. 2004, The Resurrection Of Christ: A Historical Inquiry. After 25 years of study German professor concluded 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. [link]

Alvar Ellegard, 1999, Jesus One Hundred Years Before Christ. Christianity seen as emerging from the Essene Church of God with the Jesus prototype the Teacher of Righteousness. [link]

D. Murdock (aka ‘Acharya S‘) 1999, The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. 2004, Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled. 2009, Christ in Egypt. Adds a astro-theological dimension to christ-myth demolition. Murdock identifies JC as a composite deity used to unify the Roman Empire.[link]

Earl Doherty, 1999, The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? 2009, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Powerful statement of how Christianity started as a mystical-revelatory Jewish sect – no Jesus required!. [link]

Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy, 1999, The Jesus Mysteries. 2001, Jesus and the Lost Goddess : The Secret Teachings of the Original Christians. Examines the close relationship between the Jesus Story and that of Osiris-Dionysus. Jesus and Mary Magdalene mythic figures based on the Pagan Godman and Goddess.

Harold Liedner, 2000, The Fabrication of the Christ Myth. Anachronisms and geographic errors of the gospels denounced. Jesus a fictional Joshua for a 1st century Judaic cult and Christianity one of history’s most effective frauds. [link]

Robert Price, 2000, Deconstructing Jesus. 2003 Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition? 2011, The Christ Myth Theory and its Problems. Ex-minister and accredited scholar shows Jesus to be a fictional amalgam of several 1st century prophets, mystery cult redeemers and gnostic ‘aions’. [link]

Hal Childs, 2000, The Myth of the Historical Jesus and the Evolution of Consciousness. A psychotherapist take on the godman.[link]

Michael Hoffman, 2000, Philosopher and theorist of “ego death” who jettisoned an historical Jesus. [link]

Dennis MacDonald, 2000, The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. Professor of New Testament studies and Christian origins maps extensive borrowings from the Homeric epics the Iliad and the Odyssey by the authors of the gospel of Mark and Acts of the Apostles. [link]

Burton Mack, 2001, The Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy. Social formation of myth making. [link]

Luigi Cascioli, 2001, The Fable of Christ. Indicted the Papacy for profiteering from a fraud! [link]

Israel Finkelstein, Neil Silbermann, 2002The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred TextsCourageous archaeologists who skillfully proved the sacred foundational stories of Judaism and Christianity are bogus. [link]

Frank R. Zindler, 2003, The Jesus the Jews Never Knew: Sepher Toldoth Yeshu and the Quest of the Historical Jesus in Jewish Sources. No evidence in Jewish sources for the phantom messiah.

Daniel Unterbrink, 2004, Judas the Galilean. The Flesh and Blood Jesus. Parallels between the tax rebel of 6 AD and the phantom of the Gospels explored in detail. ‘Judas is Jesus’. Well, part of Jesus, no doubt. [link]

Tom Harpur, 2005, The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. 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. [link]

Francesco Carotta, 2005, Jesus Was Caesar: On the Julian Origin of Christianity. Exhaustive inventory of parallels. Alarmingly, asserts Caesar was Jesus. [link]

Joseph Atwill, 2005, Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus. Another take on the Josephus-Gospel similarities. Atwill argues that the 1st century conquerors of Judaea, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, used Hellenized Jews to manufacture the “Christian” texts in order to establish a peaceful alternative to militant Judaism. Jesus was Titus Flavius? I don’t think so. [link]

Michel Onfray, 2005, Traité d’athéologie (2007 In Defence of Atheism) French philosopher argues for a positive atheism, debunking an historical Jesus along the way. [link]

Kenneth Humphreys, 2005, Jesus Never Existed. 2012, The Birthing of a Godman. 2014, Jesus Never Existed: An Introduction to the Ultimate Heresy. Companion books of this website drawing together the most convincing expositions for the supposed messianic superhero. The author sets this exegesis within the socio-historical context of an evolving, malevolent religion. [link]

Jay Raskin, 2006, The Evolution of Christs and Christianities. 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. Maybe. [link]

Thomas L. Thompson, 2006, The Messiah Myth. 2012, Is this not the Carpenter? (Ed.). Theologian, university don and historian of the Copenhagen school who concludes Jesus and David are both amalgams of Near Eastern mythological themes originating in the Bronze Age. [link]

Jan Irvin, Andrew Rutajit, 2006, Astrotheology and Shamanism: Unveiling the Law of Duality in Christianity and other Religions. Explores astrotheology and shamanism and vindicates John Allegro’s work with psychoactive substances. [link]

Lena Einhorn, 2006, What Happened on the Road to Damascus? Swedish historian and proponent of the theory that Paul was the founder of Christianity and that “Jesus” was actually Paul. [link]

Roger Viklund, 2008, Den Jesus som aldrig funnits (The Jesus who never existed). A Swedish scholar reaches the same inescapable conclusion: Jesus never existed. [link]

René Salm, 2008, The Myth of Nazareth. Scholar who primarilly focuses on deconstructing the claims for a historical Nazareth – and does so very effectively. [link]

David Fitzgerald, 2010, Nailed: Ten Christian Myths That Show Jesus Never Existed At All. American author, public speaker and atheist activist joins the ranks of Jesus mythicists. [link]

Thomas Brodie, 2012. Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: A Memoir of a Discovery.. Priest and former director of the Dominican Biblical Centre, Ireland concludes “Jesus did not exist as a historical individual” and is a literary reworking of the account of Elijah and Elisha. [link]

Richard Carrier, 2012. Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus2014, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason To Doubt. Erstwhile editor of Internet Infidels and activist for atheism argues for the use of Bayes’ Theorem as a way out of the befuddled mess that besets Jesus studies. Carrier establishes that probability favours the non-existence of Jesus. The alternative? A figure first conceive as a celestial being revealed through private revelation and scripture, written into allegory and subsequently misunderstood as a literal truth. In fact, just what mythicists have been saying for years but elegantly and comprehensively presented.[link]

Raphael Lataster, 2013.There Was No Jesus, There Is No God. Religious studies scholar at the University of Sydney puts his head above the parapet. This former fundamentalist Christian concludes from the spurious evidence, Bayesian reasoning, and rigorous logic that the historical Jesus never existed. [link]

Michael Paulkovich, 2013. No Meek Messiah. Freelance writer and contributer to The American Rationalist, American Atheist Magazine and Free Inquiry presents one-hundred-and-twenty-six writers from the “time of Jesus” who should have, but did not record anything about the Christian godman. [link]

Sid Martin, 2014, Secret of the SaviorJesus as a cypher for Israel? Not a new idea but skilfully presented here by Sid Martin, who analyses the gospel of Mark with the thesis that not a man but Jewish history was his source. [link]

Minas Papageorgiou, 2015, Jesus Mythicism: An Introduction. Greek scholar and journalist brings together for the first time the views of various mythicists and other experts creating a very interesting mosaic of contemporary mythicism. Minas Papageorgiou has selectively gathered here nineteen interviews by prominent academics and researchers who were all asked to comment upon the question: Did Jesus really exist? [link]

A Theologian Speaks

The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence.

He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in an historical garb.

– Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, 20.

A Professor Speaks

“His birth-date should be reassigned to 6 or 5 or 4 BC, though some prefer 11 or 7…

His birthplace was not Bethlehem … this was only asserted in order that an Old Testament prophecy could be fulfilled …

Jesus Christ was probably born at Nazareth … or perhaps some other small place.

– Michael GrantJesusp71,171)

Arthur Drews (1865-1935) – one of the great German pioneers in the denial of the historical existence of Jesus.

The ‘historical’ Jesus is not earlier but later than Paul; and as such he has always existed merely as an idea, as a pious fiction in the minds of members of the community.

– Drews, The Religious Problem of the Present.

Gustaaf Adolf van den Bergh van Eysinga (1874-1957) – Dutch theologian and New Testament professor who refuted the existence of Jesus.

The End is Nigh

“Not only has the divinity of Christ been given up, but his existence as a man is being more and more seriously questioned.

Some of the ablest scholars of the world deny that he ever lived at all.

A commanding literature dealing with the inquiry, intense in its seriousness and profound and thorough in its research, is growing up in all countries, and spreading the conviction that Christ is a myth.

Jesus … will have to take his place with the host of other demigods whose fancied lives and deeds make up the mythology of the world.”

– Marshall J. Gauvin (Did Jesus Christ Really Live? 1922)


Historically it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all, and if He did we do not know anything about him.

– The philosopher Bertrand Russell, “Why I Am Not a Christian“. (1927 lecture).

Dead Sea Scroll Scholar

In 1970 biblical scholar and Dead Sea Scroll expert John Allegro argued for the non-existence of Jesus Christ.

Allegro’s thesis associated notions of the godman with narcotic-induced visions.

The hallucinatory plant in question was Amanita Muscaria (Fly-Agaric), the phallic mushroom, arguably used by early Christians and interpreted as a virgin (i.e. seedless) birth and “God come in the flesh.”

Allegro was subjected to acrimonious fury and ostracised. He died in 1988.

George Albert Wells

I now think that there really was a man Jesus but that we can know very little about him.” YT

Born Again Atheist
Evangelist who “threw out the bath water and discovered there was no baby there.”

“There is not a single contemporary historical mention of Jesus, not by Romans or by Jews, not by believers or by unbelievers, during his entire lifetime.

This does not disprove his existence, but it certainly casts great doubt on the historicity of a man who was supposedly widely known to have made a great impact on the world. Someone should have noticed.”

– Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist (1992, p. 360).

Historian comes off the fence

“I have come to realize that mythicism is significantly more probably true than historicity. This I consider as radical a departure from my previous agnosticism as my agnosticism was from my previous historicism.”

– Richard Carrier, Editor-in-Chief, Internet Infidels, July 18, 2005

In the time since 2005 Carrier has become one of the leading advocates for a mythical Jesus. Probably.

Some fifty articles are now available as a book. For your copy order: