Defending the Theistic View

Is Jesus a Fraud? — Counter Arguments

If you’ve been keeping up with my Apologetics, you most probably have read my posts that refute Zeitgeist, part 1 which can be accessed by clicking here here. Currently, I am in a debate with another “Jesus-Myther” about the historicity of Jesus. He (Joel Guttormson) is in the process of writing a book which calls Christianity into question and posted part of it in a blog post entitled “The Jesus fraud-3 arguments.”

Even though I am debating with him in the comments I think I can do a better job in a blog post. And since he says in his post that he wants feedback I think this could give him a better idea of Christian arguments against the idea that Jesus is a mythical character that never existed.

Is Jesus a Composite?

Joel Guttormson begins his arguments by calling Jesus a “composite.” — He lists Pagan gods which he compares to Jesus. I have already refuted the parallels between the very same gods and Jesus in my refutation of Zeitgeist. It so happens that he uses Zeitgeist as a source in his bibliography! But I have no problem with going into some detail about this.

He lists Horus by saying he is a dying and rising god. — It is true that I found only one reference to Horus dying and rising in an ancient inscription called  The Cippi of Horus.” In this inscription he is stung by a scorpion and then dies. Isis then, with the help of Thoth, recites a chant and Horus revives. Even though he dies and rises, it is hardly comparable with Jesus because the forms of death and resurrection are completely different.

He wasn’t dead for three days Also, the claim that Horus was born of a virgin named “Isis-Meri” is wrong. His mother was simply named “Isis.” Also, Isis was not a “virgin” when he was born. Isis actually impregnated herself on her husband Osiris andthen she gave birth to Horus. (Click here) This is not a virgin birth. — The claim that Horus was born on December 25th is also wrong. In reality he was born on the second day of the Epagomenal Days which corresponds with July 30 to August 24. (Text link)

  • Before I go on, it should be mentioned that Jesus wasn’t even born on December 25. As a matter of fact, the Bible contradicts this by saying there were shepherds out in the fields the same night of his birth. (Luke 2: 8 ) If this were in December, they would have been sheltered. So the date of December 25 is irrelevant to Christianity.

The next god he mentions that Jesus supposedly mimics is Mithra. — I notice he associates the Roman Mithra with the Persian Mithras. But not several researchers question whether or not the two are really the same god, but in name only. This is because Mithras of Persia and Mithra of Rome are are different in nature. (Text link)

He then claims that Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25. — It is apparently true that Mithra was born on December 25th. But as mentioned, this date is irrelevant to Christian origins and therefore does not matter. It is false that Mithra was born of a virgin. He was, in fact, born from a rock which I suppose could be called a “virgin,” but that is quite an incredible stretch. (click here) There is no evidence that Mithra had twelve diciples. Such a statement comes from a misunderstanding of an inscription of the Zodiac.

It doesn’ matter to me if a Mithraic “holy day” was Sunday. I was raised as a Seventh-Day Adventist andtaught that the Sabbathwas on Saturday. — Also, Jesus being Jewish would have kept Saturday as Sabbath, not Sunday.

Joel Guttormson is wrong to advance the claim that Mithra died, was in the tomb for three days andthen resurrected. The truth is there is no story of Mithra dying at all. All we know is that he acended to heaven in a chariot. (Text Link)

Also, before claiming Mithra could have had influenced Christianity, it has to be mentioned that the earliest trace of Mithraism in the Roman empire is actually post-Christian. The Encyclopedia Britannica also confirms this fact pointing out,

There is little notice of the Persian god in the Roman world until the beginning of the 2nd century, but, from the year ad 136 onward, there are hundreds of dedicatory inscriptions to Mithra. This renewal of interest is not easily explained. The most plausible hypothesis seems to be that Roman Mithraism was practically a new creation, wrought by a religious genius who may have lived as late as c. ad 100 and who gave the old traditional Persian ceremonies a new Platonic interpretation that enabled Mithraism to become acceptable to the Roman world.

Since Roman Mithraism indeed appears to be Post-Christian, as described by the Encyclopedia Britannica, then that reduces the chances of it influencing Christianity. More lilkely, Christianity would have influenced Mithraism.

Next, he lists Dionysus, claiming again that he was born on (the irrelevant date of) December 25th of a virgin. — Again, this is not true. Dionysus was the son of Zeus who “slept with Semele secretly”  and then his birth followed. (Source) Contrary to claims, Dionysus didn’t turn water to wine. He was known as the god of wine and showed moral man how to make wine. (Text link)

Dionysus was not known at “God’s only begottenson.” He was the son of Zeus who had lots of sons such as Minos and Perseus. Anyone who has studied, or at least investigated, Greek Mythology can easily disprove this claim. — Joel Guttormson then repeats Zeitgeist’s claims that Dionysus was called “King of Kings” and the “Alpha and Omega. The title of “King of Kings”  is a pretty strange title for Dionysus to have considering the fact that Zeus (not Dionysus) was the King of the Gods. (Text Link)

It is true that there was a death of Dionysus. When he was a newborn he was torn to pieces by Titan assassins andthen boiled. He was then found by his grandmother who revived him. He was then placed under protection. (Click here) This hardly  resembles the story of Jesus .

Guttormson then repeats the alleged ties between Krishna and Jesus. — He repeats that Krishna was born to the virgin Devaki. — Devaki was not a virgin when Krishna was born. Hindu Tradition says he was the last of eight children indicating his mother had children in the usual way. (Source) There is no indication that Krishna’s birth was any more miracolous than the others. There are no three kings (which isn’t even in the Bible) or even a star in the east.

Now what about his death and resurrection? — The fact of the matter is that Krishna was not crucified. According to sacred Hindu writings (See Mahabharata 16: 4 ) he was accidentally shot and killed by a hunter that mistook him for a deer.

The hunter, mistaking  Keshava [or Krishna], who was stretched on the earthin high Yoga, for a deer, pierced him at the heel with a shaft and quickly came to that spot for capturing his prey. Coming up, Jara beheld a man dressed in yellow robes, rapt in Yoga andendued with many arms. Regarding himself an offender, andfilled with fear, he touched the feet of Keshava. The high-souled one comforted him andthen ascended upwards, filling the entire welkin with splendour.

There is no resurrection. Krishna simply ascends to heaven to be with the gods. This doesn’t look anything like the passion and resurrection of Jesus in the slightest.

Next, Joel Guttormson cites a web page which is supposed to tie Jesus to King Oedipus (Click here andhere). Looking over the list of parallels, I cannot help but wonder if the originator of the list exagerated the parallels.

It says that the birth of Oedipus was “unusual,” apparently trying to show similarity to Jesus. But when I lookedinto Primary Greek Sources, there was nothing special other than his birth being predicted by an oracle which said he would kill his father and marry his own mother. (Seneca Oedipus) — There are certain parallels between the two given like they “prescribed” ways of behavior. But this kind of parallel is only to be expected (and therefore irrelevant) because one was a king and the other was a prophet.

Also the parallel that neither Jesus and Oepidus had children to succeed is also not relevant because this was not so unusual. Jesus didn’t need (or have) children in the first place. Oepidus, on the other hand, did andthey were killed before his death. — As for them both dying on a mountain (which I do not think is a big deal), it is true that his parents tied Oepidus up and left him to die on mountain, but he was saved. When he died, it was actually in a Shrine at Colonus near Athens. (Source)

 Several of the parallels given, though not necessarily all false,  are either exagerated or oversimplified, such as Jesus “reaching manhood he begins to enter his future kingdom.” This particular parallel, I would argue is boardering on “false” because it implies his kingdom is earthly. It was not. — It also calls Oepidusthe son of god. The problem is that every reference I find, other than Guttormson’s, simply calls him the son of Laïus, king of Thebes.  Also, for some reason, it lists Oepidus’ losing favor with the gods as a parallel with Jesus being persecuted. Personally,  I don’t know how this “parallel” works and I would call it false.

Joel Guttormson source gives a number of similarities between Oepius and other figures. He then says,

Jesus gets 18/22 or 81%. Here it is sufficient to suspect this section by adding only that it is obvious that character of Jesus was not unique but may have originated independently, even by first century standards and thus, it is more likely that these characteristics were not inspired by a figure named Jesus.

I beg to differe. With the “similarities” between the two examined, as I have just done, it is actually clear that many of the parallels are 1) trivial, 2) oversimplified, 3) exagerated or 4) down right false. — One of the “similarities” is that we know nothing about their childhood” to which I call “TRIVIAL!”

Is Jesus the Sun God

Again, citing Zeitgeist, Joel Guttormson repeats the claim that 12 disciples of Jesus has to be the same as the 12 Zodiac constellations. But other than the number 12, there is no parallel and therefore can be seen as a coincidence.

He then repeats a claim that is fully dependent of Jesus being born on December 25th. Quoting Zeitgeist, he says that the sun reaches its lowest point on December 22 and stops moving for three days. The claim then is that after three days the sun begins to move back up in the sky.

Guttormson then says,

Here I would like to comment about the Southern Cross constellation. During this time the sun was cruxified, thus giving us, crucified. After which the sun dies, and rises after 3 days. Furthermore, it can be shown that the birth sequence is entirely due to astrology.

Nice. But the problem is it isn’t true. The sun NEVER stops moving! The orbit of the Earth around the sun is a constant ellipse and therefore the movement continues. All one has to do to kow that this claim is false is take an astronomy class. The movement stopping would be a violation of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion and therefore cannot be true.

Also, about the “Southern Cross” — It is impossible for this to have anything to do with Jesus’ birth on the grounds that it was unknown in the ancient world. — It is a Modern Day constellation  discovered in the 16th century AD. There are no Greek or Roman legends about it and it isn’t visible in the most northern latitudes. (Text link) — I would suggest to Joe Guttorsmson to take an astronomy class before he swallows such scientifically and historically inaccurate none-sense, hook line and sinker. — Even if this were true, the argument would fail anyway because Jesus was not born on December 25th.

Next he repeats the claim that Mary is represented by Virgo because it means virgin. —  It is true that Virgo means virgin, but it also means a maiden or a young girl. (Source) Also, it is far more likely that Virgo stands for Astraea, Zeus’ young virgin daughter who was chased away by the what she was offended by in the Bronze Age (Source) According to Greek Mythology, Zeus placed her among the stars and she became Virgo and, except for being a young virgin, has absolutely nothing in common with Mary.

He then tries to tie Virgo to Bethlehem where Jesus was born saying that they both indicate “house of bread.” It is true that Bethlehem, in fact, does mean “house of bread,” (Bible Dictionary Vol. 8 Commentary Reference Series page 136) however there is no evidence that “Virgo” has any such meaning.

Next, in the next attempt to tie Jesus’ birth to astrology, he repeats the claim that the three stars in Orion’s belt are the “three kings” and that the star Sirius is the “star in the east.” — It is true that Sirius is called the “star in the east” and that three stars in Orion’s belt are the “Three kings.” However it is not true that that’s what they were known as in ancient times. The earliest information available in which they are called the “Three Kings” is from the 17th century AD and is therefore about 1,700 years to late to be of any relevance. (Click here) — Even if they were known as such in ancient times it would still be irrelevant for two reasons: 1) They are called “magi,” not kings. And 2) Matthew (the Gospel that tells the story) never specifies their number. Also, it is untrue that Orion’s Belt and Sirius point to the sun’s travel route (Click here).

Next, Joe Guttormson only continues to recycle Zeitgeist’s claims of Jesus alluding to ages of the Zodiac,

For instance, when Jesus is said to feed the multitudes in Matt 14:17, he supposedly does so using two fish. The symbolism of the two fish is taken directly from the Zodiac. Pisces, or Pisces the Two Fish, is the age in which Jesus was supposed to have been born.

For the record, Jesus was born between 7 and 2 BC, technically in the Age of Aries, but considering that it is as that age is closing I guess it is no big deal. — The attempt that Guttormson makes to tie the feeding of the multitude(in Matthew 14: 17) is pretty weak. He doesn’t mention the five loaves of bread that would throw of the alleged astrological symbology.

Other than the mention of two fish, what indication in the context ties this passage to the Age of Pieces? Nothing! He took the Bible out of context.

He then continues,

To show this, we need only look to the New Testament again. Luke 22:8-10 “Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’ Where do you want us to prepare for it?’ they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you”. Jesus, supposedly, is referring to the Age of Aquarius, represented as “The Water Bearer”, and as it happens, the Age of Aquarius immediately follows the Age of Pisces, starting around the year 2150AD.

Again, this is completely out of context. The only basis for equating the Age of Aquarius to the water bearer is the fact that he is a water bearer. — Other than this there is no basis for equating the two. This is just another example of the Bible being taken out of context because Jesus gives no reason to assume that he is talking about anything else other than where they will celebrate the Passover. — His tying the water bearer to Aquarius overlooks the fact that water bearers were very common back then because the Jews didn’t have indoor plumbing. Are we to consider every single water bearer from 2,000 years ago as representing Aquarius? The obvious answer is no.

Basically, there is no real basis for tying the Bible to the Zodiac. Apparently Joel Guttormson automatically attributes any mention of fish to Pieces, and any mention of a water bearer to Aquarius, no matter how insane the parallels are.

No evidence of Jesus’ Existence?

Finally, Joe Guttorsmson attempts an attack on the New Testament,

The final argument I shall present herein deals with the yet undeniable fact that there is not a shred of convincing documented evidence outside of the New Testament of the existence of Jesus Christ. Specifically, I am speaking of the Romans, who recorded nearly everything during their time in power. They were systematic and meticulous. Among the things that the Bible mentions that the Roman historians do not, is the slaughter of the innocence also known as the flight to Egypt. It should also be noted about that particular tale, this it is taken directly from the book of Exodus.

He argues that since no Roman Historian mentions the “Slaughter of the Innocence” then therefore it didn’t happen. He then claims it had to have been taken from Exodus. This is a very naive way to look at history. Such a deed was absolutely consistent with how King Herod the Great dealt with affairs. Historians show that Herod became even more murderous near the end of his life — Hint: The Right time for Jesus’ birth! (Text link) There is therefore no reason to believe that it didn’t happen.

As for his claim that no historian mentions Jesus, that is not true. — I am not going to appeal to the Testimonium Flavianum to attempt to prove my point because I realize that will be of no use. However, there is a second passage of Josephus’ writings that mentions Jesus in passing,

Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still upon the road. So Ananus assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of that Jesus who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some of his companions. And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.  (Antiquities 20, 200)

This passage mentions the murder of James, brother of Jesus “who is called Christ.” — Unlike for the Testimonium Flavianum the wast majority of scholars believe that this passage is completely authentic.

Robert E. Van Voorst, Professor of New Testament Studies, in his book Jesus Outside the New Testament on pages 83 and 84 affirms that,

The overwhelming majority of scholars holds that the words “the brother of Jesus called Christ” are authentic, as is the entire passage in which it is found. [ . . . ] A Christian interpolator would have used laudatory language to describe Jame and especially Jesus, calling him “the Lord” or something similar. At least, [ . . . ] he would have used the term “Christ” in an absolute way. Josephus’s words “called Christ” are neutral and descriptive, intended neither to confess nor deny Jesus as the “Christ.”

This passage is considered authentic because the language used by Josephus is not what a Christian interpolator would use. Josephus uses neitral language to describe Jesus, while a Christian would not hesitate to slant the language.

Louis H. Feldman, a Josephus Scholar also agrees affirming that the vast majority of scholars accept this passage as authentic. (Josephus, the Bible, and History page 434) This means that secular non-Christian evidence of Jesus does exist from the first century itself. To say otherwise is to fly in the face of the most current and up-to-date scholarship.

Conclusion

Basically, what Joel Guttormson is presenting is a bunch of recycled claims that are easily refuted. Research shows that the gods he cites as similar to Jesus are actually much more different than be apparently knows. The ties to the zodiac are not even convincing to anyone that has actually read the Bible passages that he attempts to connect to the Ages of the Zodiac and they are completely taken out of context. Likewise, there is no evidence that Jesus was ever seen as a Sun god, and considering that Jesus and the first Christians were Jews, it is impossible that that is what he was considered as because such a thing went agaisnt their religion.

Also, it is completely false that no non-Christian doesn’t mention Jesus Christ. Josephus, in his passage about James, gives enough proof that Jesus and his family were known. And even though any “Christ-Myther” would try to argue that that mention of Jesus is a forgery, the vast majority of scholars believe it to be authentic and therefore first century proof of Jesus’ existence.

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4 responses

  1. Metro State Atheists

    Provide evidence prior to the second century of any of the writings of Josephus that mention Jesus. Further, appeal to authority arguments are meaningless. You can say many scholars say that but what is many? How do you know they aren’t biased? (ie that they aren’t christian) Further, you’d be good to inform your readers that the person responsible for the interpolation (not forgery) of the jesus additions was….an early CHRISTIAN father. Thus, this interpolation in the writings of Josephus cannot be cited as evidence. Futher, he was born in 37ad (4 years after the supposed death of Jesus) and didn’t start producing writings until the year 60 or so. 23 years apart from the “figure” doesn’t constitute as “eye-witness”. At best, IF he did write anything it was nothing more than a myth told at the time. Further, you misquote my intentions of the blog. These are 3 arguments that do not stand by themselves. You’ll also need to mention that i say “most likely didn’t exist” as I open to new evidence. Notice that I am asking for evidence and not what “many scholars” (who you keep in obscurity) say. If you want the other arguments, I have offered the opportunity to hear them in a comment I posted on the blog.

    Joel

    December 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm

  2. krissmith777

    Joe says,

    “Provide evidence prior to the second century of any of the writings of Josephus that mention Jesus.You can say many scholars say that but what is many? How do you know they aren’t biased? (ie that they aren’t christian)”

    So all you can do is appeal to bias? — Remember in one of my comments on your blog post I even cited an Athiest scholar that believes the passage to be authentic, but I notice that you have completely ignored that. Are you going to accuse him of being A Christian to?

    As for quoting an “Authority” I do it only to show I have my sources. — I notice that you did that to on your post.

    “Thus, this interpolation in the writings of Josephus cannot be cited as evidence. Futher, he was born in 37ad (4 years after the supposed death of Jesus) and didn’t start producing writings until the year 60 or so. 23 years apart from the “figure” doesn’t constitute as “eye-witness””

    You didn’t read my post very well then. I am fully aware that he wasn’t alive at the time of Jesus — HOWEVER, he was alive at the time Jesus brother was killed. There is no reason why he wouldn’t have known.

    “Further, you misquote my intentions of the blog. These are 3 arguments that do not stand by themselves. You’ll also need to mention that i say “most likely didn’t exist” as I open to new evidence.”

    I never said that that they were the only arguments. You are completely misunderstandin me. If you feel I misquoted you then that was not my intention.But in a comment on your blog when you said that he didn’t exist as a person in history, I take that asjustification for saying thst you believe he did not exist.

    “Notice that I am asking for evidence and not what “many scholars” (who you keep in obscurity) say. If you want the other arguments, I have offered the opportunity to hear them in a comment I posted on the blog.”

    Actually, that is evidence.If you want to call it into question, then consult New Testament scholars and ask them about it — And I don’t mean the “Testimonium Flavianun,” — I mean the passage about James.

    The evidence that the passage is authentic (not forged by a Christian)is the language that Josephus uses to describe Jesus.

    The Greek term what says “was called Christ” is way too neutral. And no Christian interpolator that wished to prove Jesus’ existence (including Eusabius) would EVER use Neutral language.I know, I looked it up. He would have said “He was Christ.” But that’s not the case.

    Your entire argument is “Well, maybe your sources are biased.” — If that’s your argument, then you have lost it. You apparently have no problem citing biased sources when it suits you — For God’s sake, YOU CITE ZEITGEIST (which has no credibility) in your bibliography and quote it! So you are not one to lecture about “Appeals to Authority” and “Bias.”

    But in making such an argument, you make a basic fallacy yourself. When you basically say “Your sources are probably biased, so I will ignore them” you are guilty of “Ad Hominem” which by deinition is both a logical fallacy and a personal attack.

    December 21, 2008 at 5:21 pm

  3. Derek

    krissmith777,

    Good post. This fellow has badly misunderstood the fallacy of arguing from authority. When citing scholars, who are experts in the relevant fields of study, as you do, you are NOT committing the fallacy of “arguing from authority”.

    Arguing from authority as a fallacy is when the entire force of the argument is placed on the wrong kind of authority. For example:

    1) George Washington was a masterful general who led American rebels to victory over a vastly superior force, a great man of compassion and caring, and the first President of the United States of America.

    2) George Washington was a Christian

    3) Therefore, Christianity is true.

    There is no logical connection here. The entire argument turns on the authority that Washington’s name carries with it. When quoting experts however, you are backing your arguments with the force of men and women who do this stuff for a living. There is no fallacy there. Surely, we’d never quote a biologist for backing in a paper regarding the textual status of the Iliad or the accuracy of Tacitus’s Annals. It’s not their field.

    In NT and ancient historical studies, there is a 99.99999% consensus that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical personage. If anyone knows anything about NT scholarship, they’d know that a 99% consensus is so rare in it that this must be considered a powerful indicator that something is amiss with Jesus mythicism. I’m sure this dude wouldn’t be crying like a baby if 99% of NT and classical scholars backed his views

    Asking for evidence from Josephus before the second century misses the point. The fact is, the evidence we have NOW overwhelmingly favors the James’ passages authenticity, and strongly favors the Jesus passage as well.

    There is NO evidence to indicate the any Christian Father interpolated the Jesus passage. Once obvious Christian glosses are removed (the phrases “he was the Christ”, “on the third day” and so forth) we can see the core of the passage is too short and filled with neutral to negative terms describing Jesus to possibly be from Christian hands.

    Moreover, asserting that Josephus wasn’t an eyewitness and therefore, his testimony wouldn’t count a priori is just plain looney. Josephus records MANY things he wasn’t a direct eyewitness of, but rather relied on investigating reports and then putting them in his histories. Josephus is recognized as a fairly reliable historian who investigated his reporting.

    Besides, he was not a Christian, and so would not have simply reported what Christians were saying about Jesus without checking it out.

    Much of antiquity is documented by historians who did not directly observe the things they report (Herodotus, Tacitus). That testimony is weighed against other reports, and the historian’s general reliability as a whole. This may be irritating to moderns who just have to have all those spaces filled in, but thats just tough.

    Again, however, its a non-issue, in the first 2 centuries after his death, there are as many writers (Christian and none) who mention Jesus as there are who mention Caesar Augustus, the ruler of the Roman Empire during Jesus’ life within the first two centuries after his death.

    Not bad for a Jewish preacher-peasant vs. the then King-of-the-known-world

    January 24, 2009 at 10:48 am

  4. Jake

    Finally a decent apologetics blog. God bless you and your work.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm

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